The Other Obamacare Lawsuit Moving Through the Courts
Policy + Politics

The Other Obamacare Lawsuit Moving Through the Courts

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Wednesday in King v. Burwell, the controversial case that could devastate the health care marketplace in 34 states and destroy the system envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. However, the high-profile assault on the law isn’t the only case working its way through the courts.

Last July, after months of threats and a lengthy struggle to find a willing attorney, the House of Representatives filed suit against the Obama administration. It claimed the president’s move to change the effective date of part of the ACA was an unconstitutional infringement on the power of the Congress to write the laws.

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On Friday, to little public notice, the House filed a new brief, with the court arguing against the administration’s request for the suit to be summarily dismissed. The attorney for the House, long-time Democrat Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University law school, is identified as the author of the brief.

“Defendants have acted without Congress – by expending billions of dollars in public funds absent any appropriation to make those payments, and by effectively rewriting statutory provisions not to their liking – notwithstanding Article I of the Constitution,” the brief reads. “Those actions strike at the very heart of the House’s express Article I legislative and ‘guardian of the purse’ powers.”

The case, formally known as U.S. House of Representatives v. Sylvia Matthews Burwell (the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services), is being heard in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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Though nominally about Obamacare, the case is actually a wider assault on President Obama’s authority to take executive action that changes the way laws passed by Congress are implemented and enforced. In that sense, it touches on many of the same issues as the current battle over Department of Homeland Security appropriations. In the DHS battle, Republicans are trying to block funding for the immigration-related executive actions taken independently by the president.

The House case is moving at a glacial pace through the court system. That means that even after the Supreme Court issues a ruling on King v. Burwell – which is expected in June – there will probably still be at least one high-profile Obamacare case working its way through the system.

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