State Attorneys General Do Good (For Once), Hit Obamacare with Lawsuits

On the heels of the health insurance takeover staged by the House of Representatives this week, a handful of state attorneys general have filed lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.

This is amazing, because normally one hears from state AGs when they’re doing something horrid, like shaking down businesses, re-regulating industries (cigarettes, accounting firms – remember?), and, on occasion, illegally engaging ladies of the night.  So, it’s especially heartening to see some attorneys general doing something good, for a change.

“The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit filed by 12 (so far) of the attorneys general argues, in part.  The AGs argue, specifically, that the “individual mandate” exceeds Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The outcome is far from certain.  My colleague Hans Bader, for example, harbors doubts as to whether the Commerce Clause argument will win over a majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuit further argues, in part, that the bill violates the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, to the States or to the people.   The argument is that the federal government lacks authority in the Constitution to force states to carry out mandats without reimbursing them for costs.

Virginia’s attorney general has filed a similar, separate lawsuit, because the federal law conflicts with the the state’s own Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead in the lawsuit, which has been planned in the months leading up to final passage of the bill.  He’s joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana – all Republicans, but for Louisiana Democrat James “Buddy” Caldwell.

The Obama Department of Justice has announced it will defend the health care bill against the state lawsuits.  Whatever the outcome, these attorneys general deserve kudos and praise for taking decisive action against a manifestly unjust – and harmful – power grab by President Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress.