Rush Limbaugh
Weekdays, Noon - 3pm

Text Us: #30930
Phone: (800) 616 WBEN
Business: (716) 843-0600
| More
Jan 21, 4:03 PM EST

Issue on appeal: Did health-care reform rules hurt senator?

AP Photo
AP Photo/Jim Matthews
US Video

Buy AP Photo Reprints

CHICAGO (AP) -- Lawyers for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson sought on Wednesday to revive the Wisconsin Republican's challenge to the federal health care overhaul, arguing before an appellate panel that he was indeed harmed by executive rules associated with the legislation.

The oral arguments heard by three judges of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago centered on those rules, adopted after President Barack Obama's health care reform, which let congressional staffers keep favorable insurance benefits.

The main question for the appellate court is whether the rules harmed Johnson himself in some way, which he must show for the lawsuit to proceed. A U.S. district court judge in Wisconsin dismissed Johnson's suit in July, concluding that Johnson failed to show how rules conferring benefits on his staffers somehow hurt him.

But Johnson's lawyer, Paul Clement, said Wednesday that the rules, among other things, sullied Johnson's reputation in his constituents' eyes because his staffers were getting exclusive benefits others weren't entitled to.

Johnson and other legislators, even as critics of the rules, would still be subject to accusations that "they are being treated better than their constituents" and "feathering their nest," Clement said.

Government attorney Mark Stern responded that there's no precedent to back the view that a damaged political reputation constituted the kind of harm required for a lawsuit to go ahead.

If Johnson prevails, said Judge Ann Claire Williams, an appointee of Democrat Bill Clinton, politicians everywhere might start filing suits on the grounds that adhering to a new law or rule undermined them politically.

"Where do we draw the line?" she asked.

Clement responded that this case is unique because it directly affects the operations of U.S. lawmakers' staffs.

Congress included in the 2010 health care bill a requirement that members of Congress and their staffs move off the federal employee health care plan and into online marketplaces to put them in the same situation as all uninsured Americans.

Johnson filed his suit a year ago after the Office of Personnel Management decided lawmakers and their staffs should be able to continue to get the same health care benefits - covering about 75 percent of their premium costs - even after leaving the federal health insurance program they had been on for years.

The two other appellate judges who will decide Johnson's appeal are Republican appointees Joel Flaum and William Bauer. A ruling is expected within several months.

Both Clement and Stern declined to comment after Wednesday's hearing.


Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

How long do you think the Corasanti jury will deliberate before reaching verdicts?
  A day or two.
  Several days.
View Results

Get it Now

WBEN iPhone App



Photo Galleries

RSS Center