WASHINGTON – Foes of President Obama's health care law are taking another crack at upending the legislation, filing a new challenge with the Supreme Court after a separate long-shot case was rejected earlier this year.
The petition filed Monday by the Pacific Legal Foundation, like the prior challenge, focuses on an obscure aspect of the law. The case contends ObamaCare violates the provision of the Constitution that requires tax-raising bills to originate in the House of Representatives.
Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer Timothy Sandefur, alleging the law is "unconstitutional in so many ways," said justices will face one challenge to the law after another until it is significantly changed or repealed.
The new appeal, filed on behalf of small-business owner Matt Sissel, stems from the Constitution's Origination Clause, which requires that the House be the first to pass a bill "for raising revenue."
In a statement posted Monday, the foundation claimed the Affordable Care Act as America knows it essentially was created by the Senate -- by taking an unrelated House bill, gutting it and replacing the text with ObamaCare.
"This was done as part of an overall effort to avoid fair democratic deliberation over the merits of that law," the foundation said.
Lower courts have rejected the foundation's argument. A unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington said that while the health care law does contain tax-raising provisions, its primary purpose was not to raise revenue, but rather to expand health care coverage.
When the full 11-judge appeals court considered whether to hear the case, the four Republican-appointed judges concluded that the legislation should qualify as revenue-producing. But they would have ruled in favor of the administration anyway. They said the bill properly originated in the House, even if the measure was stripped of its original language.
The petition to the Supreme Court revives the allegation.
The petition states: "The PPACA did not originate in the House, but in the Senate, which erased the entire text of a House-passed bill relating to a different subject and replaced it with what became PPACA."
The court has twice turned back major challenges to the health care law, in opinions written by Chief Justice John Roberts in 2012 and in June. The one decided in June pertained to whether tax credits for insurance could apply to plans sold in both state- and federally-run insurance exchanges. The court ruled they could.
The court also has allowed family-owned businesses with religious objections to opt out of paying for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans. A related case involving faith-oriented colleges, hospitals and charities is pending.
Nicholas Bagley, a health law expert at the University of the Michigan Law School, said he doubts the court will intervene in the latest challenge. "There's disagreement on the appeals court about the rationale, but until there's disagreement about the right outcome, the Supreme Court has no reason to take the case," Bagley said.
But Sandefur said he hopes the court will agree to hear yet another case. The meaning of the Origination Clause "has never been before the Supreme Court," Sandefur said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.