President Obama’s lawlessness will be tested. That’s the take-home message as a result of a federal judge’s grant of standing to the House of Representatives in their lawsuit against the president.
Last year the House of Representatives filed a lawsuit against Obama contesting his unlawful implementation of ObamaCare. The White House and liberal critics scoffed, calling this lawsuit “ridiculous” and “frivolous”, among other less polite remarks. Now those responses may come back to haunt them.
Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled last week against the Obama administration, concluding that the House has standing to assert an injury to its institutional powers. Furthermore, her ruling means the lawsuit doesn’t involve a “political question”, as the administration had asserted.
There are two main allegations of the lawsuit:
- The House contends the executive branch has spent billions of dollars on ObamaCare’s “cost-sharing” subsidy, even though Congress hasn’t appropriated money for it. The House says this violates Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, which declares: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
- The House asserts that the administration has failed to faithfully execute ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate by issuing regulations lowering the percentage of employees who must be offered insurance and delaying the mandate’s effective date for two years.
Defenders of the Obama administration believed the House would not be granted standing since the Supreme Court denied standing in Raines v. Byrd (1997), when a group of 6 congressmen suited President Bill Clinton over his use of the line-item veto. But Raines didn’t involved a claim of institutional injury.
The House lawsuit, in contrast, was authorized by a majority vote and does claim an institutional injury. Judge Collyer says, “The plaintiff here is the House of Representatives, duly authorized to sue as an institution, not individual members as in Raines . . . That important fact clearly distinguishes this case.”
Judge Collyer approved standing for the House to pursue its first allegation, but not to pursue its Employer Mandate claims. David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Elizabeth Price Foley, both constitutional lawyers, write in The Wall Street Journal that the judge incorrectly concluded that “the Employer-Mandate Theory is fundamentally a statutory argument” that merely asserts that the administration is “misinterpreting” ObamaCare. They state she was mistaken in asserting that other, private litigants are ‘’free to sue” over such misinterpretation.
Several private lawsuits have already tried to litigate these misinterpretations, and federal courts in both the Seventh and the Eleventh Circuits have held that they, too, lack standing. They argue:
“When neither Congress nor private litigants have standing to challenge an executive’s unilateral rewriting of a statute, the executive possesses a dangerous, unchecked legislative power.”
“If the ‘genius of our Framers was to limit the Executive’s power,’ as Judge Collyer wrote, by reserving to Congress exclusive control over the federal purse, the Founders were equally inspired in giving Congress exclusive control over legislation and obligating the president to “faithfully” execute such laws.”
The lawlessness of the Obama administration must be restrained if our country is to continue to be ruled as a republic instead of a monarchy. This ruling by Judge Collyer gives hope that restraint is possible.