The Supreme Court will soon hear a case about the legality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare). At the heart of the case is the interpretation of the Origination Clause, which specifically addresses Constitutional authority for taxation. It reads:
“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
Contained in more than 2,000 pages of Obamacare are a number of provisions that created new taxes or increased existing taxes, such as medical equipment, flex accounts, investment income, Medicare payroll and itemized medical deductions.
The most controversial of all of the Obamacare taxes relates to what is known as the “Individual Mandate.” To avoid violating the Origination Clause, Obama and Pelosi repeatedly stated that “the penalty” imposed on those without health insurance was not a tax, but would still be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
When the constitutionality of the Individual Mandate came before the Supreme Court, many expected the Court to rule it as unconstitutional. Sadly, Chief Justice John Roberts betrayed the American people by casting the deciding vote to uphold the Mandate as constitutional. In his ruling, Roberts wrote that if the “penalty” was only a “fine” it would be unconstitutional, but since the penalty was collected by the IRS, associated with filing income taxes, it was a “tax” and not a “penalty” and therefore constitutional.
This ruling provided grounds for a lawsuit filed by small business owner and Iraq veteran Matt Sissel. His lawsuit, handled by the Pacific Legal Foundation, (PCF) asked the Court on October 26, 2015 to hear the case.
Sissel’s lawsuit rests on the Origination Clause.
Sissel contends that the ACA originated in the Senate, not the House, and the Individual Mandate created a tax, which therefore violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution.
The lawsuit calls for the entire ACA to be struck down not only because of the Individual Mandate, but also because of the twenty other taxes the ACA created and/or increased.
Timothy Sandefur, the Principal Attorney with PCF, said of the lawsuit:
“Every day it becomes more clear that Obamacare is bad medicine for America. Obamacare cancels freedom of choice in people’s medical decisions and swamps healthcare providers with micromanaging federal dictates. And more and more, it is triggering unaffordable insurance-premium hikes for tens of millions of families and individuals.
“But beyond its assault on healthcare freedom, Obamacare represents an attack on some core constitutional principles and protections for taxpayers. Obamacare raises taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars, but it was enacted in violation of the Origination Clause, which was designed to safeguard against arbitrary and reckless taxation. Obamacare was unveiled in the Senate, even though the Origination Clause requires taxes to start in the House, the body closest to the people.
“Pacific Legal Foundation and Matt Sissel are asking the Supreme Court to accept our challenge to Obamacare, in order to uphold and enforce the Constitution’s safeguards against arbitrary taxation, and to liberate Americans from a harmful law that was imposed in defiance of those procedures and protections.”
The outcome of Sissel’s case will determine the relevance and authoritativeness of the Constitution. If the Court refuses to hear the case, then the message it sends is that the Constitution is no longer the authoritative legal basis for American jurisprudence.
If the Court accepts the case and rules against Sissel it would be sending the same message. If it takes the case and rules that the ACAt did violate the Origination Clause, then complete turmoil will ensue in the healthcare industry, but the Constitution will be upheld.
The decision before the Supreme Court is more serious than most realize.