Point of Information: the Origination Clause

I have a question. Has any federal law ever been declared unconstitutional on the technical procedural grounds of violation of the Constitutional requirements of the origination clause, as George Will demands is the case with the PPACA?

So you don’t have to look it up, here’s the origination clause to which he refers from Article I, Section 8:

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

The emphasis is mine. Mr. Will’s claim is that since the PPACA originated in the Senate it’s in violation of the origination clause which, since the Supreme Court has already held that its mandatory provisions are based on the Congress’s tax powers.

I seriously doubt that the Supreme Court would declare the PPACA unconstitutional on the grounds Mr. Will suggests unless it was already predisposed to strike the law down and there’s very little evidence that’s the case.

Could somebody help me out here?

7 comments… add one

  • ...

    I can’t answer your questions, but it would seem kind of silly to strike the PPACA down on these grounds. Clearly the House at that time agreed with the bill, and probably would be the party with standing in any event. However, it is one more bit of hinkiness regarding this legislation.

    Or, to quote another luminary of our times, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

  • PD Shaw

    Its my understanding that the courts limit “All bills for raising revenue” to those exclusively about raising revenue, and I’m not aware of any high profile success in this argument. That the ACA is not solely about raising revenue appears to have been the ground by which Will’s argument lost at the district court.

    This would also seem to fall into the category of “political” matters that the courts don’t like to get involved with. The House was in a position to protect its prerogatives, why should the courts do that for them?

  • If I haven’t made myself clear in the post itself, I think that Mr. Will is reaching on this.

  • PD Shaw

    Will’s probably reading a CATO brief, so he’s not crazy that there is some law here. But just the idea that the penalty is a tax for some purposes and not for others probably means that the ACA is not purely a revenue raiser.

  • Zachriel

    The PPACA originated in the House, as sponsored by Charlie Rangel. The Senate passed its own bill as an amendment to the House bill. The House *agreed* to these amendments, properly enrolling the bill.

  • jan

    Unlike other significant entitlement programs, where there was unilateral collaboration and cooperation, the PPACA has been largely propelled through the legislative process by one party pushing the envelop of proprietary, transparent conduct. For instance, when a HC reform version passed the house, on a slim 220-215 margin, it was largely through back room deal making and abortion promises to reach the winning number. Getting around the Origination Clause also needed some creative thinking, Senate maneuvering and circumvention as well.

    The House passed a version of health care reform on November 7, 2009, and sent it to the Senate. Unhappy with this version, a group of senators wanted to produce their own bill. The Origination Clause, however, requires that all bills for raising revenue must begin in the House, and health care reform included many new taxes/revenue raisers, including the individual mandate. To solve this problem, the Senate amended another tax bill that the House had recently passed: H.R. 3590. This House bill originally changed the tax rules for servicemen and women buying new homes. The Senate struck out the text of the existing bill, and inserted its new proposal as an amendment (i.e., it used a “shell bill”). This modified version of H.R. 3590 passed the Senate by a vote of 60-39.

  • jan

    Above comment should have been bipartisan, not “unilateral,” in first sentence.

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