ACA: Doomed by Its "Tax"?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

George Will describes a legal case that may yet doom the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) on constitutional grounds:

[T]he origination clause, which says: "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."

The ACA passed the Senate on a party-line vote, and without a Democratic vote to spare, after a series of unsavory transactions that purchased the assent of several shrewdly extortionate Democrats. What will be argued on Thursday is that what was voted on -- the ACA -- was indisputably a revenue measure and unquestionably did not originate in the House, which later passed the ACA on another party-line vote.

This case comes from Matt Sissel, an Iowa artist and small-business owner who is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which litigates for limited government. Sissel neither has nor wants health insurance, preferring to invest his limited resources in his business. Hence he objects to the ACA's mandate that requires him to purchase it or pay the penalty that the ACA daintily calls the "shared responsibility payment." [links in original, corrected a typo]
Interestingly, as Will elaborates, the very reading of the ACA that interpreted its non-participation penalty as a tax, thereby saving it, may have doomed it on the grounds now being considered.

I hope Will is right, but I am wary of the fact that Chief Justice John "Humpty Dumpty" Roberts will be waiting should the case make it to the Supreme Court.

-- CAV

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