Attorneys for the Obama administration argued in front of a federal judge on Thursday that the lawsuit brought by Republicans in the House of Representatives over the president’s health care law should be thrown out.
No decision was made and there was no timeline given for when the judge might rule on this motion.
During this first hearing of the case, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer seemed somewhat skeptical of the government’s argument asking a deluge of questions to Justice Department attorney Joel McElvain throughout the roughly 75-minute hearing blocks from the United States Capitol.
"The House cannot sue the executive branch over the implementation of existing federal law," McElvain argued.
Collyer said her “problem” with the administration’s brief is that “it is not direct.”
Representing the House was prominent George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley who argued the Administration is spending money for payments to insurance companies that was not appropriated by Congress and therefore acting unconstitutionally. It is Congress that holds the power of the purse, Turley argued.
“We have named an assortment of injuries most obvious is the denial of the power of the purse,” Turley told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing. “If the Administration can claim the authority to take money directly out of the treasury in this fashion, then the power of the purse becomes a decorative element within our system.”
The administration also tried to make the argument that the House does not have legal standing to challenge how Obamacare is being implemented.
Turley said it would be creating a “different” and “dangerous” system if the court dismisses this suit because it would say the House does not have the ability to bring a lawsuit against the Executive Branch.
House Republicans brought this lawsuit against the Obama Administration last summer.
After both sides presented their arguments, Collyer said that the arguments had been “wonderful” but she has not yet decided how she will rule on the motion.
“You have presented me with a nice problem,” Collyer told the court. “I have lots of ideas, I just haven’t decided yet. We will get to work on it.”
Prior to the hearing, House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement released Wednesday:
“Time and again, the president has chosen to rewrite the law whenever it suits him, ignoring the will of the American people and the Constitution itself. Dozens of these unilateral actions involve ObamaCare, and the House is challenging two egregious examples that undermine the separation of powers...The very fact that the administration wants to avoid scrutiny – judicial or otherwise – shows you why this challenge is so important.”
Thursday’s hearing comes as the Supreme Court is working through a different lawsuit that challenges other portions of the Affordable Care Act.