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. A House divided can not stand. Why do not the Democrats join the lawsuit and assert the other side of the argument.

    Stop the war or we will stop the Government!
    –May Day 1971

  2. Here is one of the main problems.

    Employer patient pools are made up of people who are healthy enough to work. Individual patient pools are made up of the healthy self employed, part time employed, as well as all those who are unhealthy enough to work. So the cost is skewed far more towards the individual patient pool.

    I think employers should get out of the insurance business. Put together a benefits package that has a medical flexible spending account, or something similar, and then the employees all buy health insurance on the individual market. That spreads out the spending risk. We also need to bring back consumer choice. All of the range in insurance products that existed a mere few years ago, were created to meet consumer demand and to remain competitive. Consumers could pick a plan that had the coverage they wanted (and if they had strong religious beliefs, there were plans for them too), at the price they could afford. They were in control. Now the government makes elderly women get free birth control coverage. Because it’s weird like that.

    We need copays that are affordable on one hand, but which discourages wasteful spending, such as going to the doctor every time you have a minor cold.

    And we also need to bring down the spiraling cost of health care.

  3. Well, Medicare is supplemented by private insurance. And it’s running out of money. And it has far fewer benefits today than it did a decade ago.

    People who have Medicare like it now. How would it change if we put everyone on it? Would it be like Obamacare? Would we ruin it, lower its standards, and make it 1100% percent more expensive “because we have to do something”?

    If you like Medicare, make it like Obamacare and then see if you like it.

  4. “Obamacare” has made it far *less* likely that you, or anyone, will go bankrupt due to medical bills.”

    Actually, my premiums doubled, my deductible increased from $500 to $6,000, the drug formulary tightened, in order to get access to the mandatory pediatric dental insurance I was forced to buy I had to satisfy that deductible, and most doctors and cancer treatment centers don’t accept it, so you have to pay out of pocket for treatment. Do you have any idea what cancer treatment can cost?

    So please explain to me how we are now less likely to go bankrupt from medical bills because of Obamacare.

  5. Congratulations on getting a judicial ruling on the separation of powers.

    Are any of the ACA supporters aware of the VAST SUMS OF MONEY that have been wasted in the implementation of this boondoggle? Are they aware of the $2 billion boost in the IRS budget in 2015 ALONE to hire 9,000 new employees needed to enforce Obamacare’s tax provisions? That’s $2 THOUSAND MILLION before a single dime is paid for a single health care procedure for any American. And the insurance companies – why are they pulling out of all the Obamacare facilities if not for the fact they’re losing buckets of money?

    This excrescence on the body politic needs a boot! Thank you, Professor Turley for obtaining the ruling that returns power to control the purse to the House.

  6. Why do parents want their 26 year old children to still be considered dependents on their health insurance?

    Because Obamacare makes insurance unaffordable now.

    We are going to be known as the generation that saddled our great grandkids with crushing debt. We pushed our bills on them to pay. We made health insurance unaffordable and low quality. We raised taxes and made it harder to succeed.

    We’ve been so selfish, and it’s our descendants who are going to pay for it.

  7. Congratulations Professor Turley.

    The Brazilian legislature sure cares more for the laws of their land, than the Republicans do in America, or Obama would’ve been impeached by now.

    January 20th, 2017 can’t come fast enough. I go to sleep every night praying that Obama doesn’t destroy our beloved America before he goes.

  8. Joe said;
    “I can’t imagine the willful disregard of facts, mental gymnastics, cognitive dissonance, and self-delusion that goes into a comment like that.”

    Maybe I am dumb but if my kids had to pay their healthcare, they couldn’t afford to live on their own and move in with me. I’m just a blue collar worker, trying to give my children an education I never got. The last thing they need is a $600 a month healthcare bill.

    I hope you enjoyed insulting my intelligence and obviously you must be some Harvard grad who enjoys talking down to others.

    Thank you for those lovely insults.

  9. j mir The Constitution was ignored by the Florida Supreme Court. That’s why it went to SCOTUS. The Constitution states “you cannot change the rules of an election after the election has taken place”. Florida was doing exactly what the Constitution didn’t allow.

  10. Nick – thanks. I was lucky enough to get a p/t job at a relitive’s company when identity theft caused my insurance to lapse. It was the final insult to injury that even though I had proof of the crime, because of Obsmacare, I could not get a new policy and until the end of the year. Although I really wanted to be a full time Mom, I have to work to get access to employer insurance, which is so much better than Obamacare individual policies. It’s a relief that I can now find doctors who accept my insurance.

    But I cannot forget all those trapped in Obamacare policies, with their choice taken from them. It’s what got me more interested in politics (and embittered with the ultra Left.)

  11. j mir ACA was passed with not one Republican vote. Republicans were kept out of the process. Senator Reid allowed no Republicans in discussions, which took place behind closed doors. Reid also changed the rules to keep Senator Scott Brown out of a final vote or they wouldn’t have had closure. Obamacare cost us billions with a hand full of users when compared with 330,000,000 Americans. Yes, a smidgen of people signed up, but lots didn’t pay. Obamacare is a classic example of how legislation should never have happened.

  12. I did not read all the comments as yet. But the member of the House from my District is opposed to the “House” position and says that just a majority of RepubliCons do not have standing to speak for the whole House. It is a House divided. The decision probably cannot stand.

    Can we address the Standing issue here? This is where the DC Ct of Appeals is likely to reverse.

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