WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s request to join a challenge to the federal health care law.
The nation’s high court denied Pruitt’s petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment in an order Jan. 26.
Oklahoma was the first state to challenge the illegal IRS subsidies in 2012 and last year it prevailed in federal district court in its own lawsuit, Pruitt v. Burwell.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, a lawsuit that makes the same legal claims as Oklahoma’s Affordable Care Act challenge.
Oklahoma, along with Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, filed a legal brief in December supporting the King challenge to President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
Like Pruitt’s lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2011, King challenges the billions of dollars in IRS subsidies being handed out as part of the implementation of the law, despite the ACA never authorizing any such subsidies.
“The IRS ignored the plain language of the Affordable Care Act and essentially rewrote the law to hand out illegal subsidies in all 50 states. That’s not what the language of the ACA says and not what Congress intended when it gave states the power to decide whether to set up their own state-based exchanges,” Pruitt said in December.
“Executive agencies like the IRS cannot rewrite laws with which they may disagree. As a collection of states, we support the ACA challenge that will be decided by the Supreme Court and are hopeful a ruling in our favor will ensure the IRS and other executive agencies are held accountable to enforce the laws as written by Congress.”
Pruitt, in his state’s lawsuit, has argued the “burdensome” requirements for large employers give the state standing.
In particular, Oklahoma’s lawsuit -- of which an appeal is pending -- contends that an IRS rule punishes “large employers,” including local government, with millions of dollars in tax penalties in states with federal health care exchanges, which is not allowed under the act.
The rule also violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the state’s lawsuit argues.
“Congress provided a choice for Oklahoma and other states in implementation of the health care law, and the IRS is attempting to take that away by rule,” Pruitt has said.
“The administration miscalculated how many states would support this law, so now they’re using the IRS to push through provisions that Congress did not pass.”
Pruitt could not immediately be reached for comment on the Supreme Court’s order.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.