A Texas doctor sued the U.S. over President Barack Obama’s health-care reforms on claims the U.S. Supreme Court overlooked when it upheld the Affordable Care Act last year.
Steven Hotze of Houston claims the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, violates the U.S. Constitution’s origination and takings clauses, which weren’t part of arguments before the Supreme Court. The high court upheld the act by a 5-to-4 vote.
Hotze’s suit, filed today in federal court in Houston, targets the “shared responsibility payment” business owners will be required to pay the U.S. under the act if they choose not to provide government-approved minimum health coverage for their workers. That penalty kicks in on Jan. 1.]
“Obamacare has become a redistribution of wealth scheme, where people are compelled to pay money to other people,” Hotze’s lawyer, Andy Schlafly, said in a telephone interview. “The government isn’t allowed to order one private party, a business owner, to pay money to another private party, an insurance company.”
…This feature violate the Constitution’s origination clause because the measure didn’t originate as a “revenue-raising bill” in the U.S. House of Representatives and was instead crafted from a gutted Senate bill, according to the complaint.
Could this be the lawsuit that overturns Obamacare? It certainly seems possible. That’s why I wanted to talk to the lawyer involved in the case. What follows is the transcript of my conversation with Andy Schlafly.
First of all, tell people who aren’t informed about this case a little bit about the basic details of what’s happening and what’s going on.
Well, Obamacare’s official title is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It’s becoming painfully apparent that the act does not protect patients, it does not make care affordable. It’s just the opposite. Millions are going to lose their insurance once the act becomes fully effective on January 1, 2014, which is just in, what? — about seven months or so and the insurance premiums are going way up so those who try to keep insurance are going to be paying a lot more for it.
Employers are shifting their employees to less than 30 hours in order to avoid paying the fines under Obamacare, which applies to workers who are working 30 hours or more and who don’t have insurance. So what employers are doing is they’re basically reducing the aggregate hours worked and there have been studies last week that show that while employment is slightly going up, the aggregate hours worked is going down.
Right. I believe we’ve hit the lowest level in the last 30 years actually.
Yes, yes — and this is terrible for workers. So not only are workers not going to have health insurance, they’re losing hours so their paychecks are going down.
Well, this thing is definitely a disaster. Tell us a little bit about your case and how that’s going in Texas.
Well, Obamacare was upheld by a five to four vote of the U.S. Supreme Court last summer on a novel theory that they adopted by calling the penalties a tax and saying that this is within the taxation power of Congress, which the court upheld it as constitutional. But once they decided it was a tax, then that makes the origination clause applicable. That’s Article 1, Section 7 and that provision of the Constitution says that all taxes that raise revenue must originate in revenue raising bills in the House of Representatives.
Now let me, let me ask you about that. They would say if you asked them that, they’ve done that because they gutted a House bill and used that as their vehicle. But you don’t think that’s the case. Tell us why that is.
They did gut a House bill. Harry Reid looked around and found a House tax bill, but it was a tax credit bill that he used and gutted. It was not a tax increase. To the contrary, it was a tax credit for veteran home buyers and so it was not a revenue-raising bill. And you know Harry Reid evidently does not read the Constitution or does not take the Constitution seriously, because the Constitution says it must be a revenue raising bill in the House that they use. He did not do that. He used a revenue cutting bill in the House.
Now you’re also going to argue that the bill violates the Fifth Amendment by saying that the bill forces citizens to pay money to other citizens by compelling employers to pay private insurance companies for health coverage. And I think the argument there is going to be that it violates the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment which says, “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Is that correct? Tell us a little bit more about that.
Exactly, exactly. You’ve explained that extremely well.
Well, thank you.
And there is quite a bit of case law that says that government cannot order Citizen A to pay money to Citizen B. Government cannot tell everyone to pay $500 to the neighbor on their right. Government can tax people and then government can use those taxes to redistribute wealth, but it cannot order someone to give his home to somebody else. It’s private property, which is respected by really both sides of the court in different forms. For example, copyright law has strong bipartisan support as a form of private property. What Obamacare does is it violates it. It just tells people that you’ve got to pay your money to other private people. Insurance companies are private entities. It tells people to do that and no one has challenged that yet.
Last question here: For Obamacare to be overturned, this is going to have to go to the Supreme Court. Listening to your arguments, my first thought is that you probably have four votes there for it. Do you think you can get John Roberts or any of the liberal justices to go along with this? What do you think your chances are of success? Is this a long shot? Do you think you have a genuine shot at it? What’s your opinion?
I think we have an excellent chance of success and I think we’re aided by the fact that the wheels are falling off on Obamacare and even Democrats are seeing it as a train wreck. This happened in a number of other areas of the law where a ruling comes down one way and then a year or two passes and there’s just sort of a general consensus that, hey, this is not working. Then the Supreme Court is happy to come in and rule the opposite way.
One famous example that’s often cited is when the Supreme Court upheld, I think it was by an eight to one margin that Jehovah’s Witnesses did have to pledge allegiance to the flag even though it was contrary to their religious belief. And not that much time went by, maybe two or three years, and people said, “Wait a minute, that’s not the kind of country we live in. We do believe in individual liberty.” Then when an almost identical case went back to the Supreme Court, by a six to three margin they reversed themselves and held the opposite way. I think we’re seeing the same sort of growing sentiment about Obamacare. This thing is a failure. This is hurting a lot of people. It’s time to give the Supreme Court a second chance to look at this. I think you’re going to see five votes or more than five votes to strike it down.
Andy, I really appreciate your time.
Well, God bless you, John. I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me and I appreciate all the good work you do on the Internet.
Thank you so much. You have a good one, buddy.