Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hawley: The Jurisdictional Question in Hobby Lobby

Erin Morrow Hawley (Missouri), The Jurisdictional Question in Hobby Lobby, 123 Yale L.J. Forum ___ (2014):

Hobby LobbyBurwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores may well be the biggest case of the term. And by its own rules, the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction. An obscure statute, the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 (“the AIA”), imposes a pay-first requirement for federal tax challenges. The deeply held conventional wisdom is that the AIA is a jurisdictional statute, and there is a good argument that the AIA applies to the contraception mandate. As we learned from National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 132 S.Ct. 2566 (2012), the best evidence of whether Congress intended the AIA to apply is the text. The mandate at issue in Hobby Lobby, 26 U.S.C. § 4980D, expressly refers to the employer assessment as a tax—24 times. In light of NFIB, the Supreme Court’s failure to address the AIA was a serious mistake.

(Hat Tip: Josh Blackman.)

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