POLITICS

Supreme Court Trashes Latest Legal Attack On Obamacare

The justices already ruled the law constitutional. They're done for now.
Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still constitutional.
Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still constitutional.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court has snubbed yet another Obamacare case.

The justices on Tuesday declined to take up the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act -- a quirky lawsuit that sought to invalidate the law on the grounds that it violates the origination clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Under the clause, "all bills for raising revenue" -- read: taxes -- must "originate" in the House of Representatives. But Matt Sissel, the man behind the case, argued that must mean the health care law is unconstitutional because, in his view, the legislation originated in the Senate.

"The reason the Constitution requires all bills for raising revenue to originate in the House is to keep the taxing power -- of which the founders were justly suspicious -- in the hands of the most democratic branch of the federal government," said Sissel's appeal to the Supreme Court.

That argument was a response to the court's decision in NFIB v. Sebelius, which in 2012 upheld the law on the basis that its so-called individual mandate -- the requirement that every American carries health insurance, or else pay a penalty -- constitutes a "tax on going without health insurance."

But Sissel, an artist, challenged that requirement, noting in court papers he'd much rather "devote his resources to building up his art business rather than buying health insurance." 

Even though two lower courts rejected his arguments, he nonetheless pressed on with his appeal to the Supreme Court. What may have prompted Sissel to take his case all the way to the top was a lengthy rejection issued by an appeals court last summer -- essentially telling him that his constitutional argument was meritless, but in which four conservative judges said that the case underscored "the importance of this issue to our constitutional structure and to the individual liberty protected by that structure."

But even those judges, in the end, couldn't bring themselves to rule that the challenger had a winning case, and concluded that the Affordable Care Act properly originated in the House of Representatives.

"To read my opinion so far, you might wonder whether I think the world will end not in fire, or in ice, or in a bankruptcy court, but in an Origination Clause violation," wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh for himself and the three other judges. "This case is not Marbury v. Madison redux. But the case is still quite important."

Apparently not important enough for the Supreme Court to get involved.

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