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Health law gets new wave of challenges

WASHINGTON — More than a year after the Supreme Court upheld the central provision of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a fresh wave of legal challenges to the law is playing out in courtrooms as conservative critics and their Republican allies on Capitol Hill make the case that Obama has overstepped his authority in applying it.

A federal judge in the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments Tuesday in one of several cases brought by states, along with business owners and individual consumers, who say the law does not grant the Internal Revenue Service authority to provide tax credits or subsidies to people who buy insurance through the federal exchange.

At the same time, the House Judiciary Committee will convene a hearing to examine whether Obama is “rewriting his own law” by using his executive powers to alter it or delay certain provisions. The panel also will examine the legal theory behind the subsidy cases: that the IRS — and, by extension, Obama — ignored the will of Congress, which explicitly allowed tax credits and subsidies only for those buying coverage through state-run exchanges.

“After the ACA was enacted and after the president signed it, a lot of people — me included — decided that we weren’t going to take this lying down, and we were going to try to block it and ultimately either get the Supreme Court to overturn it or Congress to repeal it,” said Michael F. Cannon, a health policy scholar at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, who will testify in the House on Tuesday.

Aides to Obama say the president offers a legal rationale with each administrative decision, and legal experts say judges ordinarily give agencies like the IRS broad latitude in interpreting federal law. An administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss pending litigation, defended the IRS interpretation. “Our position, at bottom, is that when Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act, it was creating a national solution to a national problem,” the official said.

—Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times

Gunmen attack offices of Pakistani media group

ISLAMABAD — Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the office of a leading news media group in Karachi on Monday evening, wounding a security guard and underscoring the threats journalists face in the country.

The motive of the attack, on the offices of the Express Media Group, remained unclear, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Pakistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, who face frequent harassment and intimidation from a variety of groups, including the Pakistani Taliban and other militants, state security forces and intelligence agencies, and local political and criminal groups. So far this year, at least five journalists have been killed. And 44 more have been killed over the past decade, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Express Media Group publishes an Urdu-language newspaper and an English daily, The Express Tribune, which is a partner publication of The International New York Times. The group also owns the Urdu television network Express News.

The number of attackers was not immediately clear, said Bilal Lakhani, the publisher of The Express Tribune. The gunmen opened fire on the building at 7:10 p.m. from an adjacent bridge. However, they did not try to approach the main entrance, located in a narrow, barricaded alley off the main road. Security guards on the rooftop of the building fired back, and the attackers fled, Lakhani said.

Though the Pakistani Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, some officials believe that recent threats suggested that they were probably behind the shooting.

—Salman Masood, The New York Times