Alabama Bill Would Keep Abortion Clinics Far Away From Public Schools

Kate Scanlon /

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prevent new abortion facilities from opening near schools.

If signed into law, House Bill 527 would prohibit the Alabama Department of Public Health from renewing or granting a license to an abortion facility within 2,000 feet of a public school.

The legislation was modeled after laws that prevent convicted sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school.

If passed, the legislation would force the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville to close or relocate when its current license expires, due to its proximity to Edward White Middle School.

The House approved the legislation in a 79-15 vote.

State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, told AL.com that he doesn’t want children to see protestors on both sides of the issue on their way to or from school.

“It is a volatile atmosphere that our children shouldn’t be exposed to,” Henry said.

Rev. James Henderson, a co-pastor at Ex Nihilo Church and the former executive director of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, was part of the effort to bring the bill to the legislature.

Henderson told The Daily Signal that the bill is “appropriate for more reasons than one.”

“It’s not good to have an abortion facility across the street from a public school,” he said.

He said that the bill is in the interest of the safety of young women.

Henderson, who is also a member of the Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee, expressed optimism that the bill will be approved by the state’s Senate and signed into law by the governor.

Henderson said he is new to politics and that it was “interesting to see what happened” when the bill was debated in the legislature.

“The left is all stirred up on their blogs,” he said.

He said that he views the work of the pro-life movement as a “ministry,” and that he hopes that the one remaining abortion facility in Huntsville will close.

“Women who have had abortions who testified, you can see the pain in their eyes,” he said, adding that he’s “more determined to pray for them than ever.”

Opponents of the bill object to restrictions on abortion facilities.

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates said in a statement that they stand “firmly against HB 527 and the targeted attack on women’s health care in Alabama.”

“By likening a health care facility to a sex offender in the wording of the bill it is clear that the intent is not to make women safer, but to deny access [to abortion],” they said.

They added that the bill would “create an ongoing legal battle by violating the constitutional rights of Alabama citizens.”

The Digital Presidency of Barack Obama - The Daily Signal

The Digital Presidency of Barack Obama

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale /

The Obama White House has embraced digital communication like none before it. According to The Washington Post, The White House Office of Public Engagement has no less than 14 employees whose job it is to push the President’s message out on new media and social Web sites. After all, this is a President who was elected to office on the strength of Internet-based fundraising and the enthusiasm of Generation X’ers. Digital communication and interviews with alternative news Web sites come easily to this President, whose ready smile and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor plays well with younger audiences and who is entirely at ease on offbeat talk shows like Between Two Ferns.

According to the Post, White House official Paulette Aniskoff, head of the White House Office of Public Engagement, was recently dispatched to Hollywood for a strategy session on how the Obama Administration can work with YouTube and other Web sites to “promote some of the administration’s key policies.” The meeting, which lasted two hours, according to the Post, “in many ways exemplifies how central digital media and audience engagement have become to the functioning of the Obama White House.” It exemplifies more than that: It also reveals Hollywood itself as a part of the White House propaganda machinery, a powerful political megaphone.

But there is more to this story than the hipness of the Obama presidency and the embrace of likeminded Hollywood producers. For one thing, while the array of digital examples and numbers seems impressive, in the aggregate Obama’s digital followers are still a small portion of Americans compared to the nation as a whole.

If you add up all their followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+, the President, the First Lady, and the White House reach an audience of 20 million Americans. That leaves the vast majority of the 300 million U.S. citizens to whom and for whom the President is also accountable and with whom he needs to communicate.

Only glancingly does the Post touch on a darker side of this story: While the Obama White House is creating an appearance of openness and sharing through its sophisticated use of social media, it is at the same time able to exercise more control over its messaging. Traditional media have all been shut out of reporting on the Obama White House, and this has been a cause of ire not just for media associated with the right, but across the board.

From photo journalists complaining of a lack of access to take pictures of the President and his family to the Administration’s prosecutions of government sources suspected of leaking to even seizures of journalists’ records and criminal investigations of reporters, this Administration has sought to control any potential contact with reporters. All this despite its vaunted emphasis on “transparency.”

“There’s no question that sources are looking over their shoulders,” a senior managing editor at the Associated Press told Judicial Watch, who added that “sources are more jittery and more standoffish.” David E. Sanger of The New York Times told Judicial Watch, “This is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

Now, many Presidents have looked for ways to address the American people directly, hoping to evade the gatekeepers of the national media. But the Obama Administration’s two-pronged approach is something new, reaching out through digital media and Hollywood while at the same time closing the spigot on traditional and sometimes inconvenient media coverage.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A more transparent and less obsessively controlling occupant of the White House could (and should) take a different course.

An Alliance Carrying the Torch of Freedom in Europe - The Daily Signal

An Alliance Carrying the Torch of Freedom in Europe

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint /

Last weekend, I had the honor of attending a meeting of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in Winchester, England. The organization consists of members of the European Parliament from 15 European Union nations and Turkey and works with several “regional partners” including Canada, Australia and the United States.

The Alliance opposes the centralized bureaucracy of the European Union. As laid forth in its Reykjavik Declaration, the group favors “the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level—by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies.” It supports individual liberty, freedom from oppressive tax and regulatory regimes, and the rights of free speech and worship. It is inspiring that there are groups of Europeans keeping the torch of freedom burning even as some of their governments act to dampen it.

I find that liberty-minded people have much the same concerns, whether in the United States or across the Atlantic. Although we have distinct governments, they’re seeing the problems with centralized power just like we’ve experienced in the United States.

The issue of immigration is just as contentious a subject in England and the continent as it is here. Perhaps more so: The vast cultural differences between European countries and millions of their new residents has resulted in large minorities of immigrants who are opposed to the principles of free speech, freedom of worship, women’s rights and other values of their adoptive societies.

This debate has grown even more furious at the prospect of the European Union forcing member nations to accept immigration quotas—regardless of whether the newcomers are well suited to their host countries or whether the current citizens like it.

Further, just as Americans have experienced the fallout from Washington picking winners and losers in the marketplace and an unaccountable Federal Reserve fiddling with our money, many Europeans see centralized economic and monetary policies as a road away from prosperity, not toward it. The Euro was supposed to act as a unifying, stabilizing force for the European Union, but it has exposed well-managed nations to the risks and unsustainable debts of irresponsible ones. Too many Europeans have had their future put in the hands of foreign bankers or reckless governments, instead of with their own elected representatives.

Particularly in England, it’s easy to see the painful lessons being learned about centralized, government-run health care systems. On each of my last two visits, London newspapers were running front page stories about the latest scandal at the National Health Service—from patients dying without treatment to billions of dollars in waste. I hope we can replace Obamacare with a patient-centered system before it metastasizes into something similar.

I’m glad the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists is doing good work in Europe. Although we consider many aspects of the American Founding to be original ideas, the vital concepts of individual rights, freedom of speech, free economies and common law came from long philosophical and political traditions in England and the continent. It would be a dark day for the world if either America or Europe abandoned them.

Civil Servants Have Rights, Too. Government Should Respect Them. - The Daily Signal

Civil Servants Have Rights, Too. Government Should Respect Them.

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson /

Yesterday, the North Carolina House passed a bill that would protect magistrates who object to performing solemnizing ceremonies for same-sex marriages and clerks who object to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The bill, should it become law, would make it clear that no one can be denied a marriage license but magistrates or clerks could recuse themselves from the process behind the scenes should they have sincere objections to same-sex marriage.

The bill already had passed the North Carolina Senate in February of this year, and now has passed the House. But the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, has vetoed the bill. That’s a mistake, for this bill is good public policy. Government employees have rights, and those rights should be protected. Without this accommodation, magistrates and clerks who refuse to take part in same-sex marriages will be removed from office, and “shall” be guilty of a crime that is punishable by up to 120 days in jail.

Consider a county clerk who has served in her job for decades issuing marriage licenses. Now the government has redefined marriage—and her job. Should she be forced in all circumstances to violate her beliefs? Indeed, two former magistrates are suing the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts precisely because they were told to issue same-sex marriage licenses or resign.

They resigned—but they shouldn’t have had to. Indeed, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires the government to accommodate conscientious objectors as best it can. Title VII applies to all employers, including the federal government, and requires that employers grant reasonable religious accommodations to employees, provided those accommodations don’t create an undue hardship for the employer.

<<<<<For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book, “The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty.”>>>>>

The North Carolina bill makes it clear that magistrates should be accommodated whenever possible—and, at the same time, that all citizens should be able to receive marriage licenses. In other words, it’s a win-win situation. The law of religious accommodation for public employees is complicated but perhaps not as difficult as we sometimes make it.

Professor Robin F. Wilson of the University of Illinois Law School writes, “A common refrain is that religious objectors in government service should do all of their job or resign. This stance conflates the public receipt of a service offered by the state with the receipt of that service from each and every employee in the office who is available to do it.” In other words, as Prof. Wilson says, citizens have a claim to receive certain “services from the state, but they do not necessarily have a claim to receive the service from a particular public servant.”

Professor Wilson offers an example of “reasonable accommodation” for Title VII purposes from the 7th Circuit:

In Rodriguez v. City of Chicago, for example, a Catholic Chicago police officer, Angelo Rodriguez, requested a reassignment after being posted at an abortion clinic in his district. Officer Rodriguez expressed willingness to serve in the event of an emergency breach of peace at the clinic but asked not to be assigned active duty at the clinic since it would violate “religious beliefs … that prohibit [his] participation in keeping abortion clinics open.” The Rodriguez court noted that “[u]nder Title VII … an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious observance or practice unless it can demonstrate that such accommodation would result in an undue hardship to the employer’s business.”

Indeed, the court ultimately ruled that the city’s offer to transfer Rodriguez to a district “comparable to [his own] but without abortion clinics,” with “no reduction in his level of pay or benefits,” was “a paradigm of reasonable accommodation.”

Religious objection is not a trump card, but employees’ religious objections should be accommodated when possible. Our law demands a careful—and possibly complicated—balancing of interests. The North Carolina bill is a good way to achieve peaceful coexistence going forward.

For more on this, see my new book “The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty,” ready for pre-order today at Amazon.

Los Angeles Unions: Minimum Wage Hike for Thee, But Not for Me - The Daily Signal

Los Angeles Unions: Minimum Wage Hike for Thee, But Not for Me

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk /

Los Angeles recently hiked its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Los Angeles unions strongly support this move, with a catch. They want the increase to apply only to non-union companies.

The Los Angeles Times reports local unions are now lobbying the city council to exempt unionized firms from the higher rate. If they get their way, unionized companies—and only unionized companies—could pay less than the new minimum.

At first glance this appears highly hypocritical: Unions want to require companies to pay more but do not want their members to lose their jobs as a result.

As Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, told the Times:

With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them. This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.

Los Angeles unions appear to recognize the value of flexibility for their members even as they push for a law that denies it to everyone else. They don’t mind higher wages eliminating other workers’ jobs, but they want to protect their members.

This take probably underestimates Los Angeles’ unions. They have another reason to seek this exemption: It would boost their membership. An exemption would enable unions to offer businesses lower wages in exchange for unionizing.

Unions have increasingly turned to this tactic to increase their membership.

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce documented recently, organized labor has strongly pushed for “living wage” requirements in major U.S. cities. Many of these union-backed ordinances exempt unionized companies. Unions use these exemptions to help organize and reduce costs at unionized companies. For example:

Allowing unionized companies to sidestep the minimum wage hike gives non-union companies a strong incentive to unionize. This could mean tens of thousands of new members for Los Angeles unions and millions of dollars in additional dues.

Of course, most workers don’t unionize in hopes of getting a pay cut. But unions often can ignore such objections. National Labor Relations Board rules generally require workers to wait three years before voting out a newly formed union. California also lacks a “right-to-work” law—unionized Los Angeles workers must pay dues or get fired, no matter how little they like their contract.

The government should not give special interest groups carve-outs to boost their membership. If Los Angeles unions believe that non-union employers should have to pay at least $15 an hour, that rate should apply to unionized firms too. The law should not make unions the low-cost option.

These 4 Graphics Tell the Story of School Choice - The Daily Signal

These 4 Graphics Tell the Story of School Choice

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk / Kelsey Harris /

Earlier this week, professor Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas made the case for school choice in Washington, D.C. Based on his research, The Daily Signal pulled out data to tell the story visually.

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

Kelsey Harris/Visualsey

‘Say What?’ Planned Parenthood Calls Itself a ‘Safe Haven’ for Newborns - The Daily Signal

‘Say What?’ Planned Parenthood Calls Itself a ‘Safe Haven’ for Newborns

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk / Kelsey Harris / Kate Scanlon /

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is advertising itself as a “safe haven” for newborns.

According to Vermont’s Department for Children and Families, the state’s Baby Safe Haven Law “offers you safe places you can give up your baby—anonymously and legally.”

Under the Baby Safe Haven Law, parents may deliver a child younger than 30 days old to any “safe haven” in the state.

The agency defines “safe haven” as any “fire or police station, health care facility, place of worship [or] adoption agency licensed in Vermont.” Emergency responders can also make arrangements to come pick up a child after a 911 call.

The parent or individual who delivers the child to a safe haven may do so anonymously, but they are given the option to provide personal or medical information about themselves and the child. They are also offered support services such as medical help or counseling, which they may or may not choose to accept.

Planned Parenthood facilities were approved by the state to be safe havens.

Monica Kelsey, a pro-life speaker and an advocate of Safe Haven laws, shared a picture of the ad on her Facebook page.

“Rather than abandoning your newborn, you can bring your baby to a safe place where he or she will be cared for,” the ad says.

WHAT?? Say What? Planned Parenthood in Vermont is a Safe Haven drop off location? I called and asked to make sure and…

Posted by Monica Kelsey, Pro-life Speaker on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

“Say What? Planned Parenthood in Vermont is a Safe Haven drop off location?” Kelsey wrote.

“As much as I hate Planned Parenthood, it is about time they are doing something good,” one user commented.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England confirmed to The Daily Signal that any Planned Parenthood facility in Vermont is a safe haven for newborns up to 30 days old.

Chris Christie Vows to Scrap Common Core in New Jersey - The Daily Signal

Chris Christie Vows to Scrap Common Core in New Jersey

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk / Kelsey Harris / Kate Scanlon / Ken McIntyre /

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he will pull the state out of Common Core education standards—increasingly unpopular among parents and teachers alike—in favor of “higher, New Jersey-based standards” to be developed by the end of the year.

He has asked the state’s top education official to convene parents, teachers and educators to drive development of the stronger standards, Christie said. But the governor dismayed some by stopping short of discarding a controversial test designed to assess how well students learn under the Common Core standards.

“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie said Thursday afternoon in a speech at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J. “It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents. And [it] has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work.

“Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones,” the governor said.

Christie, who initiated a study of the contentious standards last July, becomes the latest Republican governor to pull his state from Common Core.

One of those other governors, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, has taken the federal government to court over what he calls a scheme to use federal funds to coerce states into signing up for Common Core. An initial hearing in that lawsuit was set for today, Time magazine reported.

“It is time to have standards that are even higher [than Common Core] and come directly from our communities,” @GovChristie says.

Christie and Jindal are both likely GOP candidates for president. Christie’s move leaves two other major, unannounced contenders for the Republican nomination, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as the most prominent GOP hopefuls who haven’t disavowed Common Core as a vehicle for Washington to have a role in state education choices. In the Democrats’ contest, the issue has yet to become a litmus test for Hillary Rodham Clinton and any challengers.

Christie said:

I have heard far too many people—teachers and parents from across the state—that the Common Core standards were not developed by New Jersey educators and parents. As a result, the buy-in from both communities has not been what we need for maximum achievements. I agree: It is time to have standards that are even higher and come directly from our communities. And, in my view, this new era can be even greater by adopting new standards right here in New Jersey—not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.

However, Christie puzzled some parents and teachers by saying the state for now would retain the hotly debated test known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career).

“We must continue to review and improve that test based on results, not fear or speculation,” Christie said. “I will not permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the way of the good.  We must test our children because federal law requires it and because it is the only way to objectively judge our progress.”

“If @GovChristie is genuinely interested in new standards, the state must abandon the PARCC fiasco,” @NJEA chief says.

Common Core proponents argue that PARCC and similar assessments are the best way for the federal government to ensure that states faithfully implement the standards.

>>> Commentary: More States Push Back Against Common Core

Wendell Steinhauer, head of the state teachers union,  said Christie was being “completely illogical” in calling for rejection of Common Core while continuing the PARCC assessments tied directly to those standards.

Steinhauer, president of thew New Jersey Education Association, said:

If the governor is genuinely interested in new standards, the state must abandon the PARCC fiasco, which is taking a terrible toll on the quality of instruction and student learning in New Jersey. It is completely illogical to use this deeply flawed test if the administration is going to abandon the standards that are driving it.

Christie said David Hespe, head of New Jersey’s Department of Education, would lead a group to develop a new set of standards.

The group is expected to complete a review of previous state standards and make any recommendations by the end of the year. Christie aides said the review would consider:

“I have some real concerns about Common Core and how it’s being rolled out and that’s why I put a commission together to study it,” Christie said in November. “I’m not an educational expert.”

>>> Commentary: Momentum Builds Against Common Core Education Standards

New Jersey, along with 45 other states, adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 as a way to ensure their students are “college- and career-ready,” and to track student success in a way that’s comparable state by state.

Some critics say PARCC and other exams associated with what they see as questionable standards for math and language are too rigorous, and usurp local and state control of the classroom.

“@GovChristie is keeping the PARCC testing, which is the heart of Common Core in this state,” Steve @Lonegan says.

Steve Lonegan, a former mayor who ran against Christie in the 2009 GOP primary for governor, was skeptical.

“Christie has suddenly had an epiphany on Common Core because he’s trying to send a signal to Republican primary voters,” Lonegan, whose wife and daughter are teachers, told The Daily Signal.

Despite “a lot of flowery rhetoric about parents and children,” Lonegan said, “in the really important part of the speech [Christie] says he’s keeping the PARCC testing, which is the heart of Common Core in this state.”

Lonegan, director of monetary policy for the American Principles Project and the GOP’s unsuccessful challenger last year to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., added:

Common Core is about teaching to the test and not the individual needs of the student. Common Core is a one-size-fits-all approach that dumbs down education.

Opponents also argue that the Obama administration gave states an incentive to adopt Common Core and affiliated exams with $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” grants and waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

In many states, education experts note, the hurried adoption of Common Core preceded the elections of 2010, which brought in new governors, legislators and school board members. Christie first took office in January 2010, Jindal in January 2008.

“Over the last two years, states have begun to realize the costs of quickly signing on to Common Core,” Brittany Corona, now state programs director for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, wrote earlier this year for The Heritage Foundation. She added:

By 2015, 15 of the original 46 states that agreed to Common Core have made efforts to withdraw from the standards and aligned tests. Four exited the standards completely—Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana.

Now, Corona said, the alignment of college entrance exams, such as the SAT and ACT, and advanced placement courses have prompted concern over the “voluntary” nature of the standards.

Kevin Mooney contributed to this report, which has been updated.

Billionaire Environmentalist Pushes New Oil Tax in California - The Daily Signal

Billionaire Environmentalist Pushes New Oil Tax in California

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk / Kelsey Harris / Kate Scanlon / Ken McIntyre / Alex Anderson /

In an effort to combat high gasoline prices in California, billionaire environmentalist activist Tom Steyer is pushing for a state ballot measure to pass an oil severance tax.

Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate, announced support for the potential ballot measure earlier this month at the California Democratic Party convention.

“I want to understand why Californians are paying up to $1 billion more to oil companies per month for gasoline prices than anywhere else in the country,” Steyer said.

We’ve been out talking to Californians and they show strong ballot box support for making Big Oil pay their fair share. #CADem15 #DemsLead

— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) May 15, 2015

California has the highest gasoline prices in the nation, where a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.739, a dollar more than the national average.

According to the Los Angeles Times, one measure would impose a 10 percent oil extraction tax, while the other would “strengthen disclosure requirements for oil companies’ management of gasoline supplies and prices.”

In a letter to the California lawmakers, Steyer, along with Jamie Court—president of Consumer Watchdog—blamed the oil industry for a lack of transparency over prices and inventory levels.

“The oil industry must answer for this half-billion dollar cost to Californians,” they wrote. “The market is rigged to the benefit of an oligopoly and the rules need to be changed to benefit consumers rather than the oil industry.”

Nick Loris, senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, believes that high costs of energy in California are directly related to state policy and taxes.

“The economic and regulatory environment in California is a big reason the costs of energy are so high in California,” Loris said. “If Californians want lower prices, they should urge their politicians not to implement higher taxes to fund their pet projects, especially since those projects tend to be economic disasters.”

In 2006, the California State Legislature passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act, requiring a statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

This legislation created a cap-and-trade program, requiring oil refiners to purchase pollution credits from the state.

Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, believes that an emphasis on market-based programs will provide the lowest costs to the consumer.

“We have an opportunity to have a conversation about state regulations,” Hull told The Daily Signal.

Hull argues that proponents of the tax contradict themselves when they call for lower energy prices but seek to increase the cost of raw materials through a severance tax.

“Simplifying and reducing the number of contradictory kinds of program would allow for a lower cost and more efficient means of complying with climate change initiatives,” Hull said.

This isn’t the first time California has considered an oil extraction severance tax.

In 2014, a bill authored by California state Sen. Noreen Evans would have established an oil and gas production tax. The bill failed to make it out of committee.

What You Need to Know About the House’s Obamacare Lawsuit - The Daily Signal

What You Need to Know About the House’s Obamacare Lawsuit

Kate Scanlon / Helle Dale / Jim DeMint / Ryan T. Anderson / James Sherk / Kelsey Harris / Kate Scanlon / Ken McIntyre / Alex Anderson / Melissa Quinn /

The U.S. House of Representatives had its first day in court today after filing a lawsuit against the Obama administration for making unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act in November. Now, a district judge must rule on whether the case will proceed.

Lawyers representing the Obama administration and the House of Representatives gathered today before U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer for the first hearing in a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s changes to the health care law—namely his delay of the employer mandate and the authorization of payments from the Treasury Department to insurance providers.

Congress, the House of Representatives contends, did not appropriate funds for those payments, which will cost taxpayers more than $175 billion over the next 10 years.

The House and its lawyer, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, argue these changes to the law violate the Constitution and are suing the Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services.

“In challenging these actions, this case addresses fundamental issues regarding the limits of executive power under our constitutional form of government, and the continued viability of the separation of powers doctrine upon which ‘the whole American fabric has been erected,’” Turley wrote in documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “This lawsuit thus raises issues of exceptional importance, not only to plaintiff United States House of Representatives, but also to the entire nation.”

“This lawsuit thus raises issues of exceptional importance, not only to plaintiff United States House of Representatives, but also to the entire nation,” said Jonathan Turley, lawyer for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Justice Department lawyers, led by Joel McElvain, motioned to have the lawsuit dismissed on the basis that the House lacks the legal standing to challenge the administration in court.

McElvain and the government argue U.S. law mandates that the House is required to prove it has been harmed in order to have standing.

>>> It’s Time for Congress to Put an Obamacare Repeal Bill on the President’s Desk

“The U.S. House of Representatives now asks this court to decide a generalized, institutional dispute between the executive branch and one chamber of the legislative branch concerning the proper interpretation of federal law,” McElvain argued in documents filed with the court.

“This novel tactic is unprecedented, and for good reason: the House has no standing to bring this suit.”

However, according to several reports, Collyer—who was appointed by President George W. Bush—repeatedly pushed McElvain today over his arguments for why the case should be dismissed.

“So is it your position that if the House of Representatives affirmatively voted not to fund something … then that vote can be ignored by the administration, because after all, no one can sue them?” Collyer asked McElvain.

Despite her pressure on the government, Collyer has not yet ruled on whether the case will be dismissed.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, pointed to the constitutional infringements cited by the House as reason for why the case should proceed.

“This makes it a very basic constitutional issue, which is that the executive branch cannot spend money unless it’s been specifically appropriated by Congress. That’s been true for the 200 plus years we’ve been a country, no matter what the issue is,” said @HVonSpakovsky.

“This lawsuit talks about specific injury and a specific misuse of funds by the executive branch,” he said. “This makes it a very basic constitutional issue, which is that the executive branch cannot spend money unless it’s been specifically appropriated by Congress. That’s been true for the 200 plus years we’ve been a country, no matter what the issue is.”

Von Spakovsky went on to cite the authorization of the lawsuit by the full House as further evidence the lower chamber has standing.

“This throws this case on a completely different plane,” he said, contrasting this case with others in which just one or two lawmakers—such as Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s attempt to sue the administration—file suit.

However, Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, said the House cannot prove it has been harmed, which is required under U.S. law.

>>> Congressman Pushes for Appointment of Obamacare Watchdog

“We have a constitutional system where Congress has certain powers and responsibilities, and the president has certain powers and responsibilities, and the courts have certain powers and responsibilities,” he said. “When Congress can’t get its act together to enforce its will, then it’s not legitimate for Congress to turn to the courts to sue the president, any more than it is for the president to sue Congress.”

“It has the power of the purse and the power to hold investigatory hearings, which it’s exercising,” Jost continued. “It’s not legitimate for [the House] to sue the courts to force the administration to do what it wants it to do.”

House Speaker John Boehner first announced he would pursue a lawsuit against the Obama administration in July 2014, which the House voted to authorize. The lawsuit was postponed until November, though, after two lawyers who initially represented the lower chamber dropped out. Turley is now representing the House.

“The very fact that the administration wants to avoid scrutiny—judicial or otherwise—shows you why this challenge is important,” Boehner said in a statement yesterday. “No one—especially the president—is above accountability to the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Republicans in both chambers of Congress have frequently criticized the president for unilaterally changing different provisions of Obamacare without consulting Congress, and this case is one of many filed against the administration over the health care law.