Today, we filed our complaint United States House of Representatives v. Burwell (Case 1:14-cv-01967), in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The House’s complaint contains eight counts concerning constitutional and statutory violations of law related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are a myriad of unilateral amendments to this Act, ordered by President Obama’s Administration, which could be the subject of a challenge, and there are a number of changes that are already being litigated, including King v. Burwell, which has been accepted by the Supreme Court for review. The House’s complaint, however, focuses on the Administration’s usurpation not only of the House’s Article I legislative authority, but also of the defining “power of purse.” Both of these powers were placed exclusively in Article I by the Framers of our Constitution. These constitutional and statutory claims are highly illustrative of the current conflict between the branches over the basic principles of the separation of powers. The House’s complaint seeks to reaffirm the clear constitutional lines of separation between the branches – a doctrine that is the very foundation of our constitutional system of government. To put it simply, the complaint focuses on the means rather than ends. The complaint is posted below.
Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category
As many on this blog are aware, I have previously testified, written, and litigated in opposition to the rise of executive power and the countervailing decline in congressional power in our tripartite system. I have also spent years encouraging Congress, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, to more actively defend its authority, including seeking judicial review in separation of powers conflicts. For that reason, it may come as little surprise this morning that I have agreed to represent the United States House of Representatives in its challenge of unilateral, unconstitutional actions taken by the Obama Administration with respect to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is an honor to represent the institution in this historic lawsuit and to work with the talented staff of the House General Counsel’s Office. As in the past, this posting is meant to be transparent about my representation as well as my need to be circumspect about my comments in the future on related stories. (more…)
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“What you going to do when the rain comes?
Are you going to sail on the rising seas like Noah?
What you going to feed your little orphans
When there’s no more fish in the sea forever?”
-Brendan Perry, “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” from Ark (Cooking Vinyl, 2010)
In April of this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. Among its conclusions is that “atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.” The report also states that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” In order to limit the increase in global temperature to two degrees Celsius, the panel estimates that it will be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050 and to virtually nothing by the end of the century.
The political response was predictable. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a short hearing, promptly declaring that the science is not “settled” and accused Democrats of “trying to scare America.” Republican reaction to this week’s announcement of a climate agreement with China was even harsher, with Sen. Mitch McConnell complaining that “these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states across the country.”
Although there are serious scientists who dispute the IPCC findings, the cumulative scientific evidence that anthropogenic activities significantly impact climate change is overwhelming. So why are the IPCC’s findings so controversial? The answer is that the politics of climate science denial are largely shaped by two forces: the contrived skepticism of the energy industry and the religious skepticism of the evangelical right.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Congress is drafting legislation to deny Social Security benefits to those accused of participating in persecutions of others by the Nazis. HR 5706 directs the Justice Department to provide names of individuals suspected as such to the Social Security Administration which would then terminate all social benefits to these individuals. This could occur despite payments by these individuals into the social security system and who are presently receiving such benefits.
The Bill, titled the “Nazi Social Security Benefits Termination Act of 2014,” came into being after the Associated Press reported that millions of dollars in benefits have been provided to those beneficiaries, many of whom the AP claims received the promise of social benefits on the condition they removed themselves from the United States. The Justice Department disputes this claim.
While there is no question that those who participated in genocides should be held accountable for their actions, the steps Congress is taking has substantial long term risks to due process rights, entitlements, and using retirement benefits as a form of collective punishment to individuals deemed undesirable by the U.S. Government.
It appears that friends (albeit a dwindling number) of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber may soon have to put his face on milk cartons to locate the economist. After a series of frank but embarrassing statements on the strategies behind the Administration’s passage of the Affordable Car Act (ACA), Gruber has moved from the status of “disfavored” to “disavowed” to “disappeared.” This week, Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi expressed a complete lack of knowledge of who Gruber is, was, or will be — even though she previously cited his work and he was paid $400,000 as one of the architects of Obamacare and has made over $2 million from HHS. Such roles are often difficult for scholars in moving between the political and academic worlds, but it is rare to find an academic become such an issue in a national debate.
This week we discussed another videotape of Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a major role the ACA, or “Obamacare,” making revealing and highly embarrassing statements about the strategy behind the passage of the Act. Gruber had already previously attracted controversy with statements where he endorsed the theory at the heart of the recent decisions in Halbig and King by challengers to the ACA: to wit, that the federal funding provision was a quid pro quo device to reward states with their own exchanges and to punish those that force the creation of federal exchanges. That issue will now be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Gruber caused uproar when, after he had denounced the theory as “nutty” during the arguments in Halbig and King, he was shown later to have embraced that same interpretation. Gruber has become a major liability in the litigation. Gruber then was back in the news with an equally startling admission that the Obama Administration (and Gruber) succeeded in passing the ACA only by engineering a “lack of transparency” on the details and relying on “the stupidity of the American voter.” Now a new videotape has surfaced from Gruber speaking at the University of Rhode Island in 2012 and expressing the same contempt for the intelligence of citizens — suggesting again that they were hoodwinked to “the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.” Gruber was paid roughly $400,000 to help design the ACA by the Obama Administration, but he is proving far far more costly in its aftermath.
The Supreme Court has decided to wade back into the controversy over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” today with the granting of review of King v. Burwell, No. 14-114. I have previously written about the King case as well as the parallel case in the D.C. Circuit in Halbig.