Artist asks Supreme Court to review Senate’s “gut-and-replace procedure”

The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), on behalf of Matt Sissel, has asked the Supreme Court to hear PLF’s Origination Clause challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both trial and appellate courts previously rejected Sissel’s claims, and in August 2015, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied Sissel’s petition for rehearing en banc.

“. . . Obamacare represents an attack on some core constitutional principles and protections for taxpayers,” said PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur. “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.”

Background. Sissel is an artist and small business owner who prefers to pay medical expenses on his own rather than be required to purchase a health insurance plan he does not want. He claims ACA Sec. 5000A — the individual mandate, which subjects individuals to a shared responsibility penalty payment if they choose not to obtain health insurance — is unconstitutional. His suit alleged that, based on the Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius (NFIB), the ACA is a bill for raising revenue, enacted in violation of the Origination Clause.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit found that the purpose of the ACA was to induce participation in health insurance plans and any resulting revenue from the shared responsibility penalty was merely a by-product. As such, the Origination Clause did not apply.

Petition for certiorari. The petition for certiorari argues that the panel created a new, subjective test that conflicts with Origination Clause precedents from the Supreme Court and other circuits. The petition argues that the test is unworkable and undermines the Constitution’s structure. Specifically, the questions presented for review are:

Is the tax on going without health insurance a “Bill[] for raising Revenue” to which the Origination Clause applies?

Was the Senate’s gut-and-replace procedure a constitutionally valid “amend[ment]” pursuant to the Origination Clause?

“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,” said Sandefur.

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