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In a master stroke of timing, the House of Representatives has finally filed that big lawsuit against Barack Obama for his tyrannical actions in using executive orders as if he were some kind of president or something. As you recall, we thought it was dead, only, like Snake Plisskin, it turns out it had just vanished for a while, and then the House finally found a lawyer willing to take the case (who wasn't Larry Klayman, even), because separation of powers -- and now it is ON, Barry. You'll be lucky if you can Escape From DC!


The lawsuit had originally been only about the tyranny of Barack Obama delaying the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act by one year -- that thing that the Republicans wanted so bad when they were shutting down the government last year. That's still in there, because of course no president has ever had the power to make minor adjustments to the implementation of a healthcare law, just as long as you insist that we live in an alternate universe where George W. Bush never waived penalties for late signups in Medicare Part D. Did you know that Congress never passed a law allowing him to do that, and yet he went unsued for it, too?

Also, there's suddenly a brand new part of the lawsuit we'd never even heard anybody yell and threaten and stomp their feet about before, at least not in a See You In Court! way. Thanks, new lawyer Jonathan Turley!

The suit also challenges what it says is President Obama’s unlawful giveaway of roughly $175 billion to insurance companies under the law. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration will pay that amount to the companies over the next 10 years, though the funds have not been appropriated by Congress. The lawsuit argues that it is an unlawful transfer of funds.

That issue involves subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, which the federal government pays to insurers on behalf of people whose incomes range from the poverty threshold to two and a half times the poverty threshold ($11,670 to $29,175 a year for an individual). If the lawsuit is successful, poor people would not lose their health care, because the insurance companies would still be required to provide coverage — but without the help of the government subsidy, the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere.

Now, the griping about cost-sharing didn't come entirely out of nowhere; it's been a part of the thick catalogue of complaints about Obamacare for some time, but it hadn't been mentioned as part of the lawsuit until the thing was filed. We'll confess that we don't have our green accountant's eyeshade handy today, so here's a Vox explainer to give you some expertise explainering:

While the Affordable Care Act authorized these cost-sharing subsidies when it was passed in 2010, the House lawsuit says it never appropriated the necessary funding to be sent over to Health and Human Services.

So while HHS appears to have the funds to make those payments, the House lawsuit seems to be arguing that nuh-uh, it can't actually make the payments because the House never specifically appropriated them. (If any readers did bring their green eyeshade today, let us know. Math is hard, let's go shopping.)

Then again, the details may not matter that much, because no matter what, it's tyranny. As everyone knows, Hitler got his start by spending funds for purposes that had been approved by one law but not specifically appropriated by the Reichstag, which is why he set it on fire.

In any case there are some pretty odd, not-especially-lawyerly bits in the lawsuit. It begins with a little history and civics lesson about the separation of powers, which seems weird in a complaint where you're just supposed to list your allegations of all the ways the defendant made you sad in an unlawful way.

[A]ll legislative power is vested in Congress, and Congress alone. U.S. Const. art. I, § 1 (“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”). This legislative power may be exercised only through the “single, finely wrought, and exhaustively considered process,” Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 439-40 (1998), that is familiar to us all, namely, the passage of identical bills by the House of Representatives and the Senate (bicameralism), followed by delivery to the President for his signature or veto (presentment) ... Beyond the President’s role in the presentment process, the Constitution does not permit the Executive Branch to enact laws, or to amend or repeal duly enacted laws, including by adopting rules or taking other unilateral actions that have such an effect.

You sort of expect John Boeher to burst into song about being a Bill, yes he's only a Bill, who's sittin' here on Capitol Hill.

Surprisingly -- or maybe not -- the suit doesn't actually spend a heck of a lot of space on the decision to delay the employer mandate. Much of it focuses on the details of whether a specific appropriation is needed to fund those cost-sharing payments to insurers. We are not going to get bogged down in all that, thank you, except to note another phrase that we have a feeling lacks lawyerly precision.

Referring to the supposedly illegal way the payments are covered, the complaint says, "The Constitution does not permit such a sleight of hand." We are pretty sure that sleight of hand isn't in the Constitution one way or the other, although some have argued that the 10th Amendment covers other magic tricks, such as appearing to saw a lady in half.

There's also this bizarre justification of why the courts need to come save America -- or at least the legislative branch -- from the tyranny of executive orders:

The House has no adequate or available administrative remedy, and/or any effort to obtain an administrative remedy would be futile.

Again, not constitutional scholars here, but have you guys ever heard of this "impeachment" thing? Oh yeah -- that's what you wanted to avoid.

[NYT / Vox / House of Representatives v. Burwell et al]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Republicans are devouring each other's carcasses, and we are here for it! Especially when one of those Republicans is King Kris of the Kansas Votefucker Klan ... errr, Clan! It's been a week since Kansans cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary, and the GOP looks to be rolling up its sleeves for a slugfest.

As we type, Kobach leads by 298 votes out of more than 314,000 cast -- a whopping 0.00095 percent, if you round up! The Kansas GOP begged Donald Trump to stay out of the race and leave the field clear for sitting governor Jeff Colyer, who took over when Sam Brownback wandered off to bring Jesus to the Hottentots on behalf of the US government. Safe bet that Colyer would be gearing up for the general election now if President Twitterthumbs hadn't flapped his yap. So thanks for that, Donny!

No, really, THANKS!

Remember the hanging chad debacle in Florida? Now picture it in a landlocked state with more cows than people. It's like fantasy island for Devin Nunes, ALLEGEDLY.

Oh, but we are to kid!

After first insisting he wasn't going to recuse from the counting, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (one and the same!) wrote Colyer a fabulously bitchy letter agreeing to hand off the tabulation to his deputy, Eric Rucker. Colyer had made the shocking suggestion that Kobach delegate responsibility to the Kansas attorney general, rather than his own political appointee, and Kobach was stretched out on the settee with a fit of the vapors at the gross impropriety of it all!

I will not breach the public trust and arbitrarily assign my responsibilities to another office that is not granted such authority by the laws of Kansas.

After several anguished paragraphs, Kobach closed by remonstrating that Colyer was betraying his office by destroying the faith of Kansans in the sacred integrity of their electoral process.

As governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public's confidence in the election process. May I suggest that you trust the people of Kansas have made the right decision at the polls and that our election officials will properly determine the result as they do in every election.

Said the guy whose entire adult life has been dedicated to whipping up panic about millions of imaginary illegal alien voters.

So now these two princes can kick the crap out of each other WITH VOTES, specifically, provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters under the supervision of poorly trained poll workers. Kansas holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote to select the GOP candidate, BUT an unaffiliated voter can cast a vote by checking a box identifying as a Democrat or a Republican at the polling place. This was news to some poll workers, who mistakenly directed over one thousand unaffiliated voters to use provisional ballots without checking the box indicating party preference. Whoops!

So, will those provisional ballots be counted based on voter intent? Or tossed based on strict interpretation of the statute? And does Kansas law mandate tossing mail-in ballots that arrive without a postmark on Wednesday, since there's no forensic proof that they were mailed before midnight on Tuesday? And how disgusted will the Kansas electorate be when one of these assholes emerges from the melée holding the other one's scalp? And how many millions of dollars are going to be spent on litigating the Republican primary while this nice lady Laura Kelly, the Democratic minority whip of the Kansas Senate, is out campaigning for November?

Even before this debacle, Kobach looked significantly weaker against Kelly than Colyer, with self-funded Libertarian Jeff Orman threatening to throw a wrench in the works. The Wichita Eagle reports on a Remington Research Poll conducted in July:

In a Kelly-Orman-Kobach race, the poll puts Kelly and Kobach effectively in a dead heat — 36 percent for Kelly and 35 percent for Kobach, with Kelly's lead within the margin of error. Orman has 12 percent.

Colyer leads in a three-way race with Kelly and Orman, according to the poll. In that scenario, Colyer receives 38 percent of the vote, while Kelly gets 28 percent and Orman receives 10 percent.

Which is ONE POLL, in a deeply red state, but ... Kobach is a crap candidate who's likely to emerge from this fight with two black eyes and a pissed off base. If there's anyone who can blow this election, it's Kris Kobach.

Keep fighting, Kris! You can do it! (And now we need a shower.)

And YOU need an OPEN THREAD!

Follow your FDF on Twitter!

Money us, PLEASE! Throw a tip in the jar, or click here to keep your Wonkette snarking forever.

[Kobach letter / Wichita Eagle / Mother Jones / Kansas City Star]

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While most people spent this weekend telling Nazi punks to fuck off, a couple 11-year-olds were in Las Vegas hacking into voting machines. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FUN!

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