Jeffrey Cutler v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Services

On December 31, 2013, Jeffrey Cutler, acting pro se, filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the United States Department of the Treasury, the HHS Secretary, and the Treasury Secretary in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (case no. 1:13-cv-02066-CKK).

Cutler is challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is better known as “Obamacare,” both on its face and as applied.  Cutler asserts that the provision requiring individuals to purchase government-mandated health insurance coverage or face monetary penalties violates the religion clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Cutler is Jewish born but does not qualify for the religious exemption).  Moreover, Cutler asserts that the recent “administrative fix” by the Obama administration that permits some citizens (based upon the State in which they reside) to keep their healthcare plan “if they like it,” but not others, including Cutler, violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

Cutler, a resident of Pennsylvania, currently serves as the Tax Collector of East Lampeter Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, having won the election in November 2013.  From 2007 to 2013, Cutler had a health insurance policy that he liked because it included the coverage he needed, it allowed him to see the doctors he wanted, and it was affordable.

On or about October 12, 2013, Cutler received a notice from his insurance company that his health insurance would soon be cancelled because of Obamacare.  And, indeed, his insurance was cancelled on December 31, 2013.  Consequently, as of January 1, 2014, Cutler has been without health insurance and is accruing penalties as a result.

In 2013, President Obama famously promised the American people that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”  Even today, the President is assuring the American people that “if you like the insurance you have, keep it,” stating that “[n]othing in the proposal forces anyone to change the insurance they have.  Period.”  Consequently, in November 2013, President Obama announced a “transitional policy” that would allow millions of Americans whose insurance companies cancelled their healthcare coverage to remain in their non-compliant plans.

Cutler wanted to keep his healthcare plan—a plan which he liked—but he was unable to do so despite the President’s promise.    As a result, on December 31, 2013, Cutler filed this lawsuit on his own behalf (pro se) because he believes that his constitutional rights are being violated by the actions of the federal government—actions which are directly harming him in a very personal way.

Indeed, on September 15, 2014, Cutler attempted to purchase insurance through his insurance company’s website and over the phone with an associate from the company, but he was not able to do so because of Obamacare.  And despite the President’s promise, Cutler was not able to keep the healthcare plan he liked because Pennsylvania is not one of the States where that is possible.  Consequently, although the mandate to purchase and maintain government-approved health insurance is a federal mandate that is applicable to all American citizens, with a few exceptions, the “transitional policy” promised by the President is discriminatorily enforced based upon the State in which a person resides.   Moreover, under Obamacare, Cutler cannot even attempt to get insurance again until November 15, 2014.

The government moved to dismiss Cutler’s lawsuit, claiming that he lacked standing (i.e., he has not been personally harmed by Obamacare) and that he failed to sufficiently allege a legal claim.  The district court granted the motion, so Cutler appealed.

After filing his notice of appeal, Cutler contacted AFLC and asked if we would represent him in his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and we agreed because this is an important case which raises important constitutional issues.  Indeed, as this case demonstrates, Obamacare is a serious threat to freedom and must be stopped.

CASE UPDATE (October 16, 2014): AFLC filed a motion for injunction pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (November 20, 2014): AFLC filed its reply in support of its motion for injunction in the D.C. Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (February 4, 2015): AFLC filed its opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (May 12, 2015): Oral argument held in D.C. Circuit.  Listen to argument here.

CASE UPDATE (November 11, 2015): AFLC filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

CASE UPDATE: The petition was denied.  Case closed.