Constitutional Law

Origination clause challenge to health-care law is tossed by DC Circuit

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An artist’s origination clause challenge to the Obama administration’s health-care law has failed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The origination clause states that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”

Iowa artist and part-time National Guardsman Matt Sissel had claimed the health-care law’s tax penalty, imposed on those who fail to buy health insurance, raises revenue to support the government generally. As a result, he said, the law should have originated in the U.S. House of Representatives, rather than the Senate, as required by the origination clause.

In a ruling on Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit said the health-care law is not covered by the origination clause because its primary purpose is to increase health insurance coverage, rather than to raise revenue. Reuters and Josh Blackman’s Blog noted the decision (PDF).

The D.C. Circuit cited Supreme Court decisions that said bills that incidentally create revenue are not revenue bills covered by the clause.

The court also turned down a commerce clause claim by Sissel, saying he had a flawed understanding of the 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld the law under Congress’ taxing power.

Reuters called Sissel’s suit “a long-shot challenge” and said he was backed by the Pacific Legal Foundation. The foundation vowed to appeal in a post at its Liberty Blog.

Prior coverage: “Amended Suit Claims Obamacare Was Enacted in Violation of Origination Clause”

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