A federal appeals court has summarily tossed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate — a case that is similar to the one that House Republicans plan to file against the president.
This suit was filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which argued that the delay could hurt doctors financially. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday said the plaintiffs don’t have a right to sue.
A unanimous three-judge panel threw out the case only three days after oral argument, a breakneck speed.
The physicians’ group argued that the Obama administration doesn’t have the right to delay the implementation of the employer mandate, particularly without delaying the individual mandate, too. The doctors said they are harmed because when people pay the penalty, they have less income to buy medical care from them.
“The [Supreme] Court has rejected efforts by one person to litigate about the amount of someone else’s taxes (or someone else’s subsidies, which are taxes in reverse),” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the three-judge panel, which also included Judges William Bauer and Richard Posner. All three were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents.
The House voted in July to sue Obama on the grounds that he exceeded his executive authority when the administration delayed penalizing companies for not following the employer mandate, which was supposed to begin Jan. 1.
The House has not yet filed the lawsuit. On Friday, the House replaced its lawyers after the previous attorney pulled out, citing pressure from other clients for the political nature of the suit, according to House staffers.
However, the judge did hint at how someone could achieve standing to successfully file the lawsuit.
“Only persons seeking to advance the interests” of the employer mandate would have a “plausible” right to sue, Easterbrook wrote. “Someone else would be a much more appropriate champion of the contention that the IRS has not done what it should to accomplish the statute’s goal of universal coverage.”
Andrew Schlafly, the attorney who represented AAPS, said the House’s lawyers should heed a lesson in Easterbrook’s opinion.
If there was “a large company that was not [observing] the employer mandate — because Obama waived that for 2014 and for a lot of companies for 2015— one of those employees might have a plausible claim,” he said. “If the House would add one of those individuals, that would give — or should give — the lawsuit standing.”
AAPS officials have not decided yet whether they will appeal, Schlafly said.