[THS] Fourteen US states file lawsuit against health reform
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Thu Mar 25 12:52:36 CET 2010
Fourteen US states file lawsuit against health reform
Tue Mar 23, 3:31 PM
MIAMI (AFP) - In a sign of political battles to come, 14 US states filed a lawsuit
Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of health care reform just moments after
President Barack Obama signed it into law.
"This lawsuit should put the federal government on notice that Florida will not permit
the constitutional rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of our state to be ignored
or disregarded," said Attorney General Bill McCollum.
McCollum, a Republican who is running for governor in the upcoming election, led
the charge against a provision of the new legislation requiring most people to buy
health insurance or else pay a fine.
The lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court also calls the reform bill an "unprecedented
encroachment" on state sovereignty by requiring states to spend billions on
expanding health care coverage to the poor.
"This is not a partisan issue," he told reporters. "It's a question for most of us in the
states of the cost it is to our people and to the rights and freedoms of the individual
He was joined by the Republican attorneys general of South Carolina, Nebraska,
Texas, Utah, Alabama, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota
and Michigan, and the Democratic attorney general of Louisiana.
But asked about the challenges, Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
replied: "We clearly believe that the bill's provisions are, in fact, constitutional and will
be so held."
Virginia filed a separate suit on Tuesday asking a federal judge to invalidate the
entire health care reform act because the federal government overstepped its
authority in requiring people to buy health insurance.
"There has never been a point in our history where the federal government has been
given the authority to require citizens to buy goods or services," Virginia Attorney
General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.
Obama's Republicans foes have waged a political war on the historic health care
overhaul and have vowed to repeal it should they retake the House and Senate in
November mid-term elections.
The governor of Idaho signed a bill into law last week blocking federal mandates
requiring individuals in his state to purchase health insurance and a similar bill was
passed in Virginia.
Some 34 other states out of the nation's 50 have either filed or announced their
intention to file similar legislation, according to the National Conference on State
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday it's typical for "big pieces of
legislation" to face legal challenges but there is "pretty longstanding precedent on
the constitutionality of this."
The White House does not believe their opponents "will be very successful," he told
But the question of whether the federal government can require people to buy health
insurance will likely head to the Supreme Court, said Jonathan Siegel, a law professor
at George Washington University.
"Is the bill constitutional? I think the answer is yes, but it's not a 100 percent slam
dunk," Siegel said.
The federal government is granted the right to regulate commerce and is also
granted whatever "necessary and proper" powers needed to do so, Siegel said.
While it is clear that the only way to get private insurance companies to stop
discriminating against sick people is to make sure that people don't wait until they get
sick to buy it, it is not completely clear if the government's powers extend to requiring
people to buy insurance, he said.
The question of whether state legislators can try to block the bill's implementation has
a much more straightforward answer.
"State law is irrelevant," Siegel told AFP. "Where state and federal law conflict,
federal law wins."
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