This afternoon, Judge Rosemary Collyer issued a final ruling in United States House of Representatives v. Burwell, the challenge to unilateral actions taken by the Administration under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Judge Collyer ruled in favor of the House of Representatives and found that the Administration violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress. The historic ruling reaffirms the foundational “power of the purse” that was given to the legislative branch by the Framers.

In 2015, Judge Collyer rejected an effort by the Administration to bar consideration of the merits of the challenge, thereby setting the stage for her to rule on whether the Administration has violated Article I, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution, which provides that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

Today Judge Collyer ruled squarely for the House in finding the Administration’s actions to be unconstitutional and that its claims “cannot surmount the plain text [of the law].” Judge Collyer found that the refusal of Congress to appropriate the funds did not give the Administration license to unilaterally order the payment of billions to insurance companies. In comparing this case to prior unsuccessful challenges to the ACA, the Court noted:

“The problem the Secretaries have tried to solve here is . . . a failure to appropriate, not a failure in drafting. Congress’s subsequent inaction, not the text of the ACA, is what prompts the Secretaries to force the elephant into the mousehole. There are no inherent flaws in the ACA that keep Section 1402 payments from being paid, in advance or otherwise. . . . There is nothing in the ACA that prevents compliance. The funds simply must be appropriated.”

Judge Collyer’s decision is linked below.

Judge Collyer’s opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole. We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision.

This victory was made possible by the extraordinary legal team from the Office of the General Counsel. I would again like to thank former General Counsel Kerry Kircher; Acting General Counsel William Pittard; Senior Assistant General Counsel Todd Tatelman; Assistant Counsels Eleni Roumel, Isaac Rosenberg, and Kimberly Hamm. It is an honor to be part of this team and this extraordinary moment in constitutional law.

Jonathan Turley
Lead Counsel for the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives v. Burwell

Burwell opinion


  1. Americans are a unique bunch. If we are satisfied with our financial situation, including insurance for health care. Feel guilty When we look into the details and realize joining Obamacare meant getting screwed. Hence, not the millions and millions joined. Prudently, the vast majority stayed away. For the millions who did join Obamacare, comes the truth. It couldn’t work, and didn’t. And here comes our uniqueness, we feel bad for those who believed Obama. It is in our nature to be concerned about other Americans. Charities, churches, etc., have increased. Meaning we try to help those in need. I don’t say less fortunate because this country guarantees a high school diploma. Of course, you must go to school and do well enough to get the diploma. Too many don’t and somewhere along the line taxpayers are providing food, shelter, health care. Oops, and cell phones. Our sympathies are being tried. Most of this is due to bad parenting. I’m sure many of over 1,000 graduating when I did had bad parenting. But, we had wonderful teachers. And we sat in our seats, listened and took notes. Now classrooms have teachers fighting for their safety. Obama has tested us too far and we are done.

    By the way, there was a time when free education ended after eighth grade. Parents had to pay for high school. They didn’t have student loans. Eighth grade was considered all you needed. Of course they learned a great deal more than children today learn at the eighth grade level.

    Health care for the poor and indigent should be at free clinics manned by graduates with large student loan debt. With a decent salary and major $$$ toward student loans, and the experience for a future job could help everyone. I know there are reasons this couldn’t work, but we are a smart people who could make this work.

  2. I “love” all you cry babies talking about “millions” of people who benefit from the ACA. I don’t believe it is millions and every week I hear from people who tell me they have a $5000 deductible and pay $500 a month for insurance that is virtually useless. They never meet the deductible and never get get to use it. What about those people? Dumocrats, as usual, pick a liar who lies to your face and still sleeps at night. Now they pick a woman with so much baggage she needs a wagon train five miles long. I guess corruption doesn’t bother either? What is happening to this country? No wonder the people have spoken and they want nothing to do with political hacks…..

  3. Starting Impeachment process would scar Obama’s presidency. Why do we accept a President that ignores the Constitution? How many times? And nothing happens to him. He is untrustworthy, a liar, a simpleton about our security, and anti-military. The damage done during his two terms might never be undone, though I hope so. Can a new President destroy Executive Orders and their actions cease?

  4. Just one more thing. I just found out that the house and senate members and their staffs get a $12,000.00 stipend to help them off set the cost of the “ACA”! If I’m wrong will someone please correct me. If I’m not wrong, well you make up your own mind.

  5. We’re supposed to have 3 legs of government The checks and balance thing. Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government. They are supposed to be able to keep each other in check. I don’t believe we have 3 legs of government anymore. We have morphed into just 2, the Democrates and the Republicans.

  6. Maybe a start. Now let’s see if the courts refuse to allow for bailing out corporations any more (GM, Chrysler, banks, etc). Then it can limit the federal (really national) government to its enumerated powers and do away with nonsense like the Energy and Education Departments, minimum wages, etc.

  7. A pox on both Repos and Demos. This was the right ruling to enforce how our government is organized as written down in our constitution. A pox on the Demos for crafting such a mess of a bill. A pox on the Repos for spending an inordinate amount of time trying to tear it apart without finding a fitting solution to the millions that cannot afford good health care. We are a wealthy country, the only reason we do not care for all our hearth needs is because far too many have this outpost mentality that freedom mens if you don’t make it on your own you deserve to die. Lets please get beyond that and work together for the good of all.

    So a pox on both the Repos and Demos.

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