“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress gives up its designated legislative authority whenever a president decides to legislate on his own.” — American Civil Rights Union Chairman Susan A. Carleson
Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2014) — In an amicus brief filed in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, the ACRU has joined Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and two organizations in support of a lawsuit filed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that challenges a rule issued by the Obama Administration allowing federal health insurance subsidies for lawmakers and some congressional staff members.
The brief, written by attorney Joel C. Mandelman, notes that the Affordable Care Act has been altered by executive decree 14 times in violation of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress sole power to amend or revise legislation. One of those alterations creates health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and some employees that are not available to other Americans.
Sen. Johnson filed his lawsuit in January (Sen. Ron Johnson v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management). The Justice Department has asked a federal judge in Wisconsin to dismiss Johnson’s lawsuit, arguing that Sen. Johnson has not been “directly injured” by the regulation and has no legal standing to sue.
The ACRU brief, which was filed also on behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and the National Center for Public Policy Research, disagrees, noting that, “If a Member of Congress cannot challenge the loss of his, or any other legislative Member’s powers, how could any other citizen have Article III standing?” Article III established the federal court system.
The brief cites the Constitution’s Article I provision that, “‘all legislative powers … are vested in a Congress of the United States’ and not in a Congress subject to the President rewriting the laws that Congress has enacted.” The president has only two legislative powers — signing or vetoing laws, the brief notes.
The brief also lists several instances of other executive agencies that have blatantly exceeded their constitutional authority, including the IRS, the EPA, and the Justice Department.
“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress gives up its designated legislative authority whenever a president decides to legislate on his own,” said ACRU Chairman Susan A. Carleson.