Does a House of Congress Have Standing Over Appropriations?: The House of Representatives Challenges the Affordable Care Act
53 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016 Last revised: 9 Mar 2016
Date Written: February 29, 2016
In U.S. House of Representatives v. Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the District Court for D.C. in 2015 held that the House of Representatives has Article III standing to challenge certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act as violations of the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause. The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on legislative standing is complicated. The Court has generally avoided the contentious question of whether Congress has standing to challenge certain presidential actions because of the difficult separation-of-powers concerns in such cases. In Raines v. Byrd, the Court held that individual members of Congress generally do not have Article III standing by simply holding office to challenge an allegedly unconstitutional statute. In a 2015 decision, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Court distinguished Raines as a case involving individual legislators and relied on its 1939 decision in Coleman v. Miller in holding that the Arizona Legislature had standing as an institution to challenge an allegedly unconstitutional limitation on its legislative authority. In its Chadha and its Windsor decisions, the Court suggested, but did not directly hold that Congress or a house of Congress has standing in some circumstances to defend its institutional constitutional authority. The Arizona, Chadha and Windsor decisions implicitly support congressional standing in Burwell. The Article argues in favor of institutional congressional standing by Congress, a house of Congress or a duly authorized committee to defend core constitutional authority possessed by Congress, but against legislative suits merely challenging how the executive branch implements a particular federal statute.
Keywords: Article III, standing, Affordable Care Act, Obama Care, ACA, Congress, U.S. House of Representatives v. Sylvia Matthews Burwell, separation of powers
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation