Republicans in the US House of Representatives have standing to proceed with a lawsuit against US President Barack Obama’s administration over his signature healthcare law, a federal judge said Wednesday, handing them a significant and somewhat unexpected victory in the ongoing legal battle.
US District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled Wednesday against the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss the case. Collyer said House Republicans do have the standing to pursue their challenge, which argues that the Obama administration violated the US Constitution by spending money on the law that had not been appropriated by Congress.
That was a key question in the lawsuit, which the White House and House Democrats have continually dismissed as a “political stunt.”
In her ruling, Collyer rejected that argument, calling the House’s challenge valid.
“Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter,” she wrote.
The case centers on the more than $175 billion the administration will spend over the next decade under a cost-sharing program with health-insurance companies. The Obama administration has said it’s spending previously allocated money.
The attorney for the House, Jonathan Turley, called Collyer’s decision “historic and profound.”
“The ruling today means that the United States House of Representatives now will be heard on an issue that drives to the very heart of our constitutional system: the control of the legislative branch over the power of the purse,” he wrote in a statement posted to his website. “We are eager to present the House’s merits arguments to the Court and remain confident that our position will ultimately prevail in establishing the unconstitutional conduct alleged in this lawsuit.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who’s leading the lawsuit against the president, said he was “grateful” for the court’s ruling.
“The president’s unilateral change to Obamacare was unprecedented and outside the powers granted to his office under our Constitution,” Boehner said in a statement. “I am grateful to the court for ruling that this historic overreach can be challenged by the coequal branch of government with the sole power to create or change the law. The House will continue our effort to ensure the separation of powers in our democratic system remains clear, as the Framers intended.”