Moore v. U.S. House of Representatives

Decision Date04 May 1984
Citation733 F.2d 946,236 U.S.App.D.C. 115
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Civil Action Nos. 82-02318 and 82-02352).

James L. Kaler, Washington, D.C., with whom Sherwood B. Smith, Jr., Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellants in Nos. 83-1077 and 83-1190.

Ron Paul, Washington, D.C., pro se in No. 83-1190.

Douglas Letter, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., with whom J. Paul McGrath, Asst. Atty. Gen., Stanley S. Harris, U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C. (at the time the brief was filed) and Leonard Schaitman, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellees, United States in Nos. 83-1077 and 83-1190.

Stanley M. Brand, General Counsel, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., with whom Steven R. Ross, Deputy Counsel, Washington, D.C., House of Representatives was on the brief for appellees, United States House of Representatives, et al. in Nos. 83-1077 and 83-1190.

Morgan J. Frankel, Asst. Senate Legal Counsel, Washington, D.C., with whom Michael Davidson, Senate Legal Counsel, M. Elizabeth Culbreth, Deputy Senate Legal Counsel and Charels Tiefer, Asst. Senate Legal Counsel, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellees, United States Senate, et al. in Nos. 83-1077 and 83-1190.

Before WILKEY and SCALIA, Circuit Judges, and LUMBARD, * Senior Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge WILKEY.

Concurring opinion filed by Circuit Judge SCALIA.

WILKEY, Circuit Judge:

Eighteen members of the United States House of Representatives appeal from a decision of the district court which dismissed their challenge to the constitutionality of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. 1 The district court dismissed their complaint on the ground that the legislators lacked standing, and, alternatively, on the ground that in the court's remedial discretion, declaratory relief should not be granted for the stated claim. We hold that the appellants have standing to sue, but we affirm the district court's dismissal as a proper exercise of the court's remedial discretion to withhold declaratory relief for the appellants' claim.

I. BACKGROUND

All of the appellants were members of the United States House of Representatives ("the House") for the 97th Congress, and some of them were also members of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House in that Congress. The appellants sued the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the House, and the Secretary of the Senate in the District Court for the District of Columbia. The United States intervened as a defendant in the case. Appellants sought a declaratory judgment that the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 ("TEFRA") 2 was unconstitutional because it originated in the Senate in contravention of the Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That clause provides that all "bills for raising revenue" shall originate in the House, although the Senate may make amendments as on other bills. 3

The appellants' complaint alleges the following facts. 4 On 14 December 1981, H.R. 4961, which had been introduced in the House, was reported favorably to the House by the House Committee on Ways and Means. As reported by the Committee, the bill comprised six sections amending the Internal Revenue Code, the net effect of which would have been to reduce the amount of tax revenue collected. The House approved H.R. 4961 without amendment and sent it to the Senate on 15 December 1981. 5

The bill was received by the Committee on Finance of the Senate, which reported H.R. 4961 favorably to the Senate on 12 July 1982. The bill as reported to the Senate still carried the House bill number but it had been substantially amended. The six revenue-reducing provisions following the bill's enacting clause had been deleted and replaced by a massive tax-increasing proposal. Instead of reducing the amount of revenue collected, the bill as amended proposed to increase revenue by more than $98 billion over three years. The Senate passed the amended H.R. 4961, newly entitled "The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982," and returned it to the House. 6

Upon the bill's return to the House, Appellant Rousselot offered a resolution to the House which proposed to resolve that the Senate's amendments to H.R. 4961 contravened the Origination Clause of the Constitution. His proffered resolution further proposed that the bill be returned to the Senate without further action by the House. The Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House moved to table the appellant's resolution and the motion to table carried the House. The Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, at the direction of the Committee, then moved to send H.R. 4961 to conference with the Senate, without first referring it back to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The House agreed to that motion, and the bill was sent to conference. 7 H.R. 4961 was subsequently reported out of joint conference and it passed both the House and the Senate in August 1982. The President signed the bill into law.

The appellants' complaint charges that the revenue bill as originally introduced in the House was not a bill for "raising revenue" within the meaning of the Origination Clause, because the net effect of the bill would have been to reduce the amount of revenue collected. Thus, the appellants charge, when the Senate amended H.R. 4961 so that the net effect of the bill's provisions was to increase the amount of revenue collected, the bill became one for raising revenue and it originated improperly in the Senate. 8 The merit of the appellants' claim turns on whether the phrase in the Origination Clause referring to "bills for raising revenue" means bills that increase revenue, in which case TEFRA unconstitutionally originated in the Senate under the alleged facts, or whether the phrase means all bills for collecting revenue--revenue-increasing as well as revenue-decreasing bills--in which case TEFRA constitutionally originated in the House and was merely amended by the Senate according to the facts stated in the appellants' complaint. 9

In their complaint, the appellants allege injury in their official capacities as members of the House and of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House by the defendants' interference with the appellants' legislative duties in originating bills for raising revenue. They further allege that they were injured individually and derivatively as members of the House by abrogation of the right of the House to originate bills for raising revenues. 10

The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment in the district court and the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the court should exercise its remedial discretion to withhold relief. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that the plaintiffs lacked standing, and, alternatively, that the doctrine of remedial discretion warranted dismissal.

II. STANDING

The district court held that the appellants had not alleged an injury in fact sufficient to give rise to standing. We disagree. For the purposes of determining the standing of appellants to sue, we must assume the validity of the appellants' claim and construe the complaint in favor of the complaining parties. 11 Thus we assume, but do not decide, that TEFRA unconstitutionally originated in the Senate under the alleged facts.

Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts to "cases or controversies." This constitutional limitation on the power of the federal judiciary is reflected in principles of standing, which ensure that a party who invokes the court's jurisdiction presents a case that falls within the constitutional power of the federal courts. 12 As the Supreme Court stated in Baker v. Carr, in order to be a proper party to litigate a claim, the claimant must "allege such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions." 13 In the recent case of Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Supreme Court noted that this precondition is essential in order properly to confine the role of the Judiciary in the tripartite system of government mandated by the Constitution. 14

The particular requirements of standing were summarized by the Supreme Court in Valley Forge:

Article III requires the party who invokes the court's authority to "show that he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant" ... and that the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action" and "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision" .... 15

In addition, the claimant's injury must fall within the zone of interests protected by the constitutional provision allegedly violated. 16 Applying those requirements to the instant case, we must determine whether (1) the congressional claimants suffered an injury in fact (2) to an interest protected by the Origination Clause, (3) which injury was caused by the defendants' actions, and (4) which injury could be redressed by a favorable decision of the court. 17 We address each of these requirements in...

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