Show Host Threatens Lawsuit if Democrats Pass Health Care Reform Using “Slaughter Rule”

Mar 17, 2010 7:50pm

ABC News' Kristina Wong reports: Mark Levin, conservative talk show host and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has warned House Democrats that if they use the “Slaughter Rule” to pass health care reform, he will file a lawsuit

“The House is not free to fundamentally alter the legislative process and change that article of the constitution through its own internal rules,” Levin told ABC News’ Steve Portnoy in an interview earlier today.

The “Slaughter Rule” — also known as “self-executing” and “deem and pass” – is a procedure would allow House members to vote on a “fix it” bill reconciling differences between the House and Senate bills passed last year, while “deeming” the Senate bill automatically passed in the House. 

The procedure has been used 20 times over the last 30 years by both Democrats and Republicans, but critics argue it has never been used on anything as big as health care reform. 

“Whether Republicans have done it or whether it’s been done in revenue cases or smoking cases, is really of no merit,” Levin said. “Neither chamber has ever so brazenly and fundamentally re-written how laws are made in this country and if the court doesn’t draw a black-letter line right here, then I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“What this will come down to is how flexible the interpretation of that provision it is for the House of Representatives,” said Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University. “Courts are highly deferential to the houses in setting their own rules, but also courts try to tend to avoid these types of fights.”

However, he added that there were “legitimate objections” to the use of the maneuver to pass legislation of such importance. 

“It is simply bad public policy,” Turley said. “I don’t know any constitutional scholar on either side of this debate that believes that this is a good idea or that it’s good for the country.”

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