Human Services

House Sues Administration over ACA

Earlier today the United States House of Representatives filed suit against the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Treasury, challenging the Administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In a press release, Speaker John Boehner announced:

Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.

The suit alleges that the Administration unilaterally delayed the employer mandate contrary to the ACA, and improperly provided nearly $4 billion in public funds to insurance companies without an appropriation from Congress.

Lead counsel for the House, Jonathan Turley, has supported the law, but has become increasingly skeptical of the use of executive powers to circumvent Congress:

I support national health care and voted for President Obama in his first presidential campaign. However, as I have often stressed before Congress, in the Madisonian system it is as important how you do something as what you do. And, the Executive is barred from usurping the Legislative Branch’s Article I powers, no matter how politically attractive or expedient it is to do so. Unilateral, unchecked Executive action is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in our constitutional system. This case represents a long-overdue effort by Congress to resolve fundamental Separation of Powers issues. In that sense, it has more to do with constitutional law than health care law. Without judicial review of unconstitutional actions by the Executive, the trend toward a dominant presidential model of government will continue in this country in direct conflict with the original design and guarantees of our Constitution.

The case has been assigned to Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003. A copy of the complaint can be found here.


In Depth: Human Services

The welfare state is larger than it has ever been in U.S. history. As Americans we spend nearly one trillion dollars a year on federal and state human services programs, yet despite public investment the poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent. Public assistance is necessary to help those who …

+ Human Services In Depth