Did a federal court just deal a blow to President Barack Obama’s unpopular health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act?
A group of GOP lawmakers sued the president and asked the court to declare Obamacare subsidies unconstitutional, as the U.S. Congress hasn’t made appropriations for them.
A judge agreed with the lawmakers. He ruled the subsidies unconstitutional on Thursday. From the Los Angeles Times:
The judge’s ruling, though a setback for the administration, was put on hold immediately and stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal.
But the 38-page opinion highlights the repeated complaint from Republicans that Obama and his administration have ignored constitutional limits on their authority.
The Constitution says “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer, yet the administration has continued to pay billions to insurers for their extra cost of providing coverage for low-income Americans.
“Paying out Sec. 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” she wrote. “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”
Signed by the president in 2010, the law requires individuals to obtain health insurance or face a penalty. Opponents filed a lawsuit and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional. The high court rejected the argument but ruled that states can’t be forced to expand Medicaid to accommodate the law.
Business owners and non-profits who oppose paying for drugs that might cause abortions have gone to court for exemptions. Christian retailer Hobby Lobby successfully sued to be exempt from the contraception mandate. The Supreme Court ruled that requiring closely held corporations to provide contraceptives violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups are in litigation over the contraception mandate. To avoid a split decision in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the court asked the religious organizations and the government to suggest a compromise.
Federal lawmakers passed a bill to repeal Obamacare, but the president vetoed it.