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house Bill H.R. 177

Should Congress Block the Supreme Court From Citing Obamacare Cases As Precedent?

Argument in favor

Congress has the ability to restrict the cases that the Supreme Court can cite as precedent, and it should do so to ensure that the Obamacare cases don’t play a role in future rulings.

Tafinzer's Opinion
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02/04/2017
When a bill has obvious unconstitutional characteristics any precedents set should not be cited.
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operaman's Opinion
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01/26/2017
If prohibiting the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare cases truly eradicate this unconstitutional policy from all three branches of government so that the repeal will be complete. I say… go for it. And is it just me reading that Congress has the ability to prevent the Supreme Court from citing certain cases? Never knew this, but wonder if this also could be a avenue to reform liberal judicial activism on the "living" Constitution mantra?
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Jamison's Opinion
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02/19/2017
This is already allowed by the Constitution. Many of you claim to be against this, calling it "court stripping" and "unconstitutional," but in reality it is very constitutional. It's true, we do have the "three branches" for a reason and the "checks and balances" were made to limit all forms of government, but if that's all you can cite as evidence for your case then congratulations, you have the knowledge of any 6th grade history/civics student who paid adequate attention. Article III Section 2 of OUR constitution states "the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." This means that Congress sets the guidelines that the Supreme Court must follow. To be honest, the only reason that the third branch is allowed to see any cases is because congress allows it. So when you attack this bill or say that this is an over reach, you're the one being unconstitutional.
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Argument opposed

The Supreme Court made the correct rulings in these three cases and Congress shouldn’t try to prevent them from being cited as precedent in the future, and this bill may be unconstitutional.

Sandra's Opinion
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01/26/2017
This is an alarming overreach that removes the checks and balances of our democracy. If Congress wants to limit the checks of the Supreme Court maybe they should rewrite the Constitution.
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Ryan's Opinion
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01/27/2017
This sets a dangerous precedent to say the legislature can decide what prior court cases can be used in making legal decisions. One, many legislators have no judicial background and are unqualified to evaluate nuanced legal opinion. Two, what's to say they can't simply toss out all precedent once they get a Court they like in order to reconsider landmark decisions? (Roe v. Wade and Wickard v. Filburn come to mind but this Pandora's Box would open the door to negating all legal precedent.)
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Luis's Opinion
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02/19/2017
Does the term checks and balances mean nothing anymore?
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What is House Bill H.R. 177?

This bill would prohibit the Supreme Court from citing specific cases related to the Affordable Care Act from being cited as precedent in all future cases after the legislation is enacted. The cases that would be barred from citation are National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, King v. Burwell, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Congress has the authority under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution to provide exceptions and regulations for the Supreme Court’s consideration of cases.

The cases involved played a significant role determining the legality of provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Nat’l Fed. of Ind. Business v. Sebellius upheld Congress’s power to enact most of Obamacare; King v. Burwell upheld state exchanges and premium tax credits to qualifying persons; while Burwell v. Hobby Lobby allowed closely held (i.e. not publicly traded) businesses to be exempt from a law’s mandates on religious grounds if there’s a less restrictive way of furthering the law’s interests.

Impact

The Supreme Court.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 177

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced this bill to “bar the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare in forthcoming decisions as binding precedent” and added the following in a press release:

“By prohibiting the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare cases, we will be truly eradicating this unconstitutional policy from all three branches of government so that the repeal will be complete. Furthermore, we must work to restore Article I authority and the Rule of Law by ensuring Congress is the only entity of our government making or changing laws.”

Some have argued that this legislation, if it were to become law, could be found unconstitutional. Prof. Eugene Volokh, who writes for the Washington Post and teaches at the UCLA School fo Law offered the following criticism:

“Congress can’t prescribe a rule of decision for courts (except by changing the law on which the decision was based)... Likewise, Congress can’t try to strip precedents of their precedential value (again, except by actually changing the law on which the precedents were based). Article III, section 2 gives Congress the power to limit courts’ jurisdiction, but not the power to constrain the courts’ reasoning.”

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina / Public Domain)

Official Title

To bar Supreme Court decisions in certain Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases from citation.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017
    When a bill has obvious unconstitutional characteristics any precedents set should not be cited.
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    This is an alarming overreach that removes the checks and balances of our democracy. If Congress wants to limit the checks of the Supreme Court maybe they should rewrite the Constitution.
    Like (869)
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    This sets a dangerous precedent to say the legislature can decide what prior court cases can be used in making legal decisions. One, many legislators have no judicial background and are unqualified to evaluate nuanced legal opinion. Two, what's to say they can't simply toss out all precedent once they get a Court they like in order to reconsider landmark decisions? (Roe v. Wade and Wickard v. Filburn come to mind but this Pandora's Box would open the door to negating all legal precedent.)
    Like (468)
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    Does the term checks and balances mean nothing anymore?
    Like (436)
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    What kind of idiot introduced this piece of garbage?
    Like (227)
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    Disgusting overreach. Please stop this!
    Like (175)
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    This is a dangerous incursion to judiciary powers by the legislative branch, another attempt to erode the checks and balances that is at the heart of our democracy.
    Like (167)
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    This bill represents an Unconstitutional over-reach of power by the congress and is a poor attempt to undermine the Supreme Court's decision upholding the ACA.
    Like (147)
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    Let's just think about this for a second, even if you vote yea here because you hate Obamacare what happens when THIS precedent is used in a way you disagree with when someone you dislike is in office? When making decisions it's unwise to base the decision on the short term of who can use it RIGHT NOW and instead base it on who might use it in the future as well and if giving that kind of power is worth it in the long run?
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    This is blatant congressional overreach. We have a separation of power between the three branches of government which must be respected. Citation of previous Supreme Court case law should not be meddled with by the legislative branch. Just as the universally bad Jim Crow Supreme Court Decisions remain to be referenced, if only to show that they are bad law, whether or not you like the decisions regarding the ACA, good and bad case law must remain for use and citation by the judiciary.
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    If the Supreme Court didn't judge against Obamacare as unconstitutional when it was signed, then there is no reason for Congress to step in and force that. Health care needs reform, and Republicans should be careful about hamstringing their own efforts by throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
    Like (58)
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    "Some have argued that this legislation, if it were to become law, could be found unconstitutional. Prof. Eugene Volokh, who writes for the Washington Post and teaches at the UCLA School fo Law offered the following criticism: “Congress can’t prescribe a rule of decision for courts (except by changing the law on which the decision was based)... Likewise, Congress can’t try to strip precedents of their precedential value (again, except by actually changing the law on which the precedents were based). Article III, section 2 gives Congress the power to limit courts’ jurisdiction, but not the power to constrain the courts’ reasoning.”"
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    Let the court do its job. Congress doesn't get to decide whether something is constitutional--that's the Supreme Court's job.
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    The three branches of government are equal. Separation of powers is essential in maintaining the checks and balances that prevent any one branch from completely dominating the others.
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    Hell no....checks and balances people no one branch of government has total power....if we start shifting power we will have a dictatorship
    Like (30)
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    If prohibiting the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare cases truly eradicate this unconstitutional policy from all three branches of government so that the repeal will be complete. I say… go for it. And is it just me reading that Congress has the ability to prevent the Supreme Court from citing certain cases? Never knew this, but wonder if this also could be a avenue to reform liberal judicial activism on the "living" Constitution mantra?
    Like (28)
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    I don't understand why this is even a question to be asked...
    Like (27)
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    Law is established by case precedent. This is true for both good and bad law, however the system is established to self-correct, and this would derail that process in a way that throws the entire establishment of case precedence into question.
    Like (25)
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    This is already allowed by the Constitution. Many of you claim to be against this, calling it "court stripping" and "unconstitutional," but in reality it is very constitutional. It's true, we do have the "three branches" for a reason and the "checks and balances" were made to limit all forms of government, but if that's all you can cite as evidence for your case then congratulations, you have the knowledge of any 6th grade history/civics student who paid adequate attention. Article III Section 2 of OUR constitution states "the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." This means that Congress sets the guidelines that the Supreme Court must follow. To be honest, the only reason that the third branch is allowed to see any cases is because congress allows it. So when you attack this bill or say that this is an over reach, you're the one being unconstitutional.
    Like (21)
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    Checks and balances are the core of the Constitution!! DO NOT TAMPER!
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