The GOP in the House yesterday filed a lawsuit against President Obama's health care plan.
They have been threatening to do so for the past four years, ever since it passed. Why has it taken so long? Because they don't have a case. They couldn't get any law firm to accept it for four years. Two firms originally agreed to but then pulled out. Finally some law professor has agreed to file the suit. Law professors can always find a case in any set of facts and do so to manufacture exam questions year after year. I know because I used to be a law professor and even wrote an exam once that centered on Bigfoot. Law professors get very desperate.
There are at least two odd things about this purported case. First, it argues that President Obama acted illegally by delaying the requirement that large companies provide employee health care coverage.
What? Say that again.
If they hate the Affordable Care Act so much, why are the Republicans suing because part of it has been delayed? What are these people eating for breakfast?
A second weird thing about the lawsuit is that it ignores an argument that has just been taken up by the US Supreme Court. That argument maintains that part of the law is being enforced illegally. Through an apparent drafting error one part of the law limits premium subsidies to those who buy insurance on "state" exchanges. Until now purchasers have been allowed federal subsidies for buying insurance on the federally created exchanges that were set up because some states refused to create their own. Obviously the intent of the law was to provide subsidies to people who need them. No rational reason comes to mind for a federal program to be denied to beneficiaries the federal government intended to help by stepping in where the individuals' own states had refused to act. A basic rule of determining legislative intent is that the result of your interpretation should not be crazy. The federal government clearly wanted to help people so it's ridiculous to argue that they would deny them access to healthcare subsidies if those people had been forced to use a federal exchange.
If you think there's an argument the other way, I sure would like to hear what it is.
So why didn't the Republicans jump on this argument and use it in their lawsuit? After all, even though the argument is crazy, the US Supreme Court apparently thinks well enough of it to spend time addressing the case.
The House GOP won't use this argument in its suit because it makes the House look incredibly stupid, not just because it's a crazy argument but because it was the House's own drafting mistake that created the superficial confusion. Yes, I admit it was the House under Democratic rule that made the drafting error but that won't stop the present House leadership from wanting to protect the institution from looking stupid no matter who was to blame.
The House GOP should have realized that it need not worry about a thing like shabby drafting errors. It already looks so bad because of pushing a lawsuit that no law firm would touch.
But what does the House GOP care? Their voters won't pay any attention to these matters. The Republican majority in Congress is chiefly there because redistricting has allowed the Republicans to represent a great deal of empty land. And - last I heard - cactus and sagebrush, cornfields and cattle just don't give a damn about the law or how it is made.
Well, lots of luck to that law professor who took the case. He's going to need it.