TOPEKA – (May 22, 2014) – Kansas last week joined in a new legal challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
Schmidt joined with 19 other states in a Texas-led challenge to the procedure by which Congress enacted the law in 2010. The new challenge argues that because the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is a “tax” within the meaning of the Constitution, the Constitution’s command that all tax bills must originate in the House of Representatives was violated when the Senate was the first chamber to craft the legislation. The Constitution's framers required all tax bills to originate in the House of Representatives to ensure that lawmakers closest to the people would be the initial gatekeepers for any decision to impose taxes.
“The federal government can’t have it both ways,” Schmidt said. “If the individual mandate is constitutional because it is a tax, then the bill that created it must comply with all the constitutional requirements for a tax bill.”
The new challenge pending before the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is Hotze v. Sebelius, No. 14-20039.
Schmidt previously joined in a second, separate challenge to the application of the employer mandate in Kansas. That challenge argues that businesses in states like Kansas, which decided not to set up a state-run health insurance exchange, are not subject to the employer mandate. It is pending in both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
A third challenge, which argues that legal protections for religious freedom preclude the federal government from requiring companies to provide certain types of contraception coverage that violate the owners’ religious beliefs, is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Kansas also has joined in that case, and a decision is expected before the end of June.
“We continue to push back strongly against these federal actions that we think exceed the authority given to the federal government,” Schmidt said. "It's appropriate to continue to test the legality of various parts of this massive law and its continued implementation by the federal government."