Attorneys General File Lawsuits Claiming Health Care Overhaul Is Unconstitutional

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys general from 13 states sued the federal government Tuesday, claiming the landmark health care overhaul is unconstitutional just seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed it into law.

The lawsuit was filed in Pensacola after the Democratic president signed the 10-year, $938 billion bill the House passed Sunday night.

"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 says.

Legal experts say it has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. All are Republicans except James "Buddy" Caldwell of Louisiana, a Democrat.

Some states are considering separate lawsuits - Virginia filed its own Tuesday - and still others may join the multistate suit. In Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, a Christian legal advocacy group, sued on behalf of itself and four people it says don't have private health insurance and object to being told they have to purchase it.

McCollum, who is running for governor, argues the bill will cause "substantial harm and financial burden" to the states.

The lawsuit claims the bill violates the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government has no authority beyond the powers granted to it under the Constitution, by forcing the states to carry out its provisions but not reimbursing them for the costs.

It also says the states can't afford the new law. Using Florida as an example, the lawsuit says the overhaul will add almost 1.3 million people to the state's Medicaid rolls and cost the state an additional $150 million in 2014, growing to $1 billion a year by 2019.

"We simply cannot afford to do the things in this bill that we're mandated to do," McCollum said at a press conference after filing the suit. He said the Medicaid expansion in Florida will cost $1.6 billion.

"That's not possible or practical to do in our state," he said. "It's not realistic, it's not right, and it's very, very wrong."

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is also running for governor, said the lawsuit was necessary to protect his state's sovereignty.

"A legal challenge by the states appears to be the only hope of protecting the American people from this unprecedented attack on our system of government," he said.

But Lawrence Friedman, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the New England School of Law in Boston, said before the suit was filed that it has little chance of success. He said he can't imagine a scenario where a judge would stop implementation of the health care bill.

Still, McCollum said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually decide if the overhaul is constitutional.

"This is not lawful," he said. "It may have passed Congress, but there are three branches of government."

Some states are looking at other ways to avoid participating. Virginia and Idaho have passed legislation aimed at blocking requirements in the bill, and the Republican-led Legislature in Florida is trying to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ask voters to exempt the state from the federal law's requirements. At least 60 percent of voters would have to approve.

Under the bill, starting in six months, health insurance companies would be required to keep young adults as beneficiaries on their parents' plans until they turn 26, and companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to sick children.

Other changes would not kick in until 2014.

That's when most Americans will for the first time be required to carry health insurance - either through an employer or government program or by buying it themselves. Those who refuse will face tax penalties.

"This is the first time in American history where American citizens will be forced to buy a particular good or service," said Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is also president of the National Association of Attorneys General, explaining why his state joined the lawsuit.

Tax credits to help pay for premiums also will start flowing to middle-class working families with incomes up to $88,000 a year, and Medicaid will be expanded to cover more low-income people.

No Republicans in the U.S. House or Senate voted for the bill.


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  • by Wow Location: Greenville on Mar 26, 2010 at 07:02 PM
    OSOC, You said, "she would never ask for anything she didn't need" - at some point she is going to need health care...unless she plans on paying out of pocket for it or just dying without it she will be having everyone else pay for it anyways. Even if she then dies and no one can pay to put her in the ground, guess who is going to pay to bury her? Does she live in a shack out in the woods and never go anywhere? Otherwise, she takes advantage of government "handouts" whether she knows it or not.
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Mar 26, 2010 at 03:09 PM
    Anonymous on Mar 26, 2010 at 07:38 AM my mom would never ask for anything she didn't need. Debate all you wish, she wants no handouts from the government, she is an true American. All I can say, unless she passes, she will vote republican this year against her own party....just like the rest of us. You loose!!
  • by Anonymous on Mar 26, 2010 at 04:38 AM
    Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Mar 25, 2010 at 09:20 AM..Good ..call it "Socialized Healthcare",I have no problem with that term at all. I am well aware of the term "blue dog".I have heard of them,yes and that term doesn't apply to you.And yes corruption,POWERFUL PEOPLE with attitudes such yours.The good news is There is help for people like your mom.The statement about your mom only leads to a debate,because it leaves to much unsaid.
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Mar 25, 2010 at 06:20 AM
    Anonymous on Mar 25, 2010 at 07:15 AM, so, if my mother should apply for it, even though she never worked? I am a bluedog..you heard of us? You are the minorty as your entitlement society. Actually, your last statement is not correct, corruption caused what you call the healthcare reform. Its not healthcare reform, its socialized healthcare.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 25, 2010 at 04:15 AM
    Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 24, 2010 at 06:58 PM..Federal Pay Roll Taxes are not a "voluntary buy into".They are taxes mandated. Both employee and employer are required to pay.These include,State and Federal Unemployment Taxes,Medicare tax,Social Security.There has been a long time cliche that has echoed across this country for many years which has made America the country She is."One For All and All For One".This is the sound of freedom.Posters speak of how this bill is going to affect us down the road?This bill has come about because of how things are now.This country has changed,is changing and will continue to do so.Capitolist greed and Health Care depravity are only two areas that have economicaly enslaved many in this country.Don't blame the people.You speak of Gov. taking homes,bank accounts being earmaked,etc.It is being done now.POWERFUL people with attitudes and actions like yourself have lead to Health Care Reform.If you don't understand?
  • by Wow Location: Greenville on Mar 24, 2010 at 07:09 PM
    OSOC: I was wondering how long it would be till I saw you busting out the 'welfare queen'. C'mon man, you are better than that. Please don't tell me you will later preach to us about the value of 'trickle-down' economics! Realize that come November, the passage of this law will have increased democratic and independent support to far greater levels than if the bill had failed. Most likely, liberals will lose a few spots to independents and the GOP. This will lead to a more balanced congress. Of course, in this environment, I see little being accomplished other than naming a few days after historically important people/events. This will be the last major legislative change we see for a long, long time.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 24, 2010 at 03:58 PM
    Sorry Lena, you are so out of touch of what happend. NS, this will be challenged, then November will come, you will see how people will kill the progressive drive for now. Now go to moveon.org to get the next info you need, people buy into those programs if they want any part of it. In fact, people that don't buy it, don't get it, unless progressive liberals, like you, make them share it. If you hadn't noticed, they get a little excited about a women with three kids, unmarried, driving a mercedes to the grocery store to buy snacks with "their money" when they themselves are trying to figure how to pay bills.
  • by NS Location: Greenville on Mar 24, 2010 at 01:26 PM
    Lean, your positions are very sensible, I think the idea behind Justices for life is to try to take out the politics-they don't have to worry about being re-elected. Whether it works or not is another thing. I do hope these lawyers tread carefully. Some experts are saying that a win here could also eliminate SS and Medicare. That would be disasterous for this country. Both are forced "buy ins" and if you don't pay them, the IRS is the enforcer. It will be interesting. I would imagine that states who voted democratic might have a case against their AG for using tax money to fight this. Verrry interesting!
  • by lena Location: rocky mt. on Mar 24, 2010 at 10:54 AM
    The Constitution needs to be overhauled. Many laws and policies aren't 21st. Century friendly. The Supreme Court Justices should not be appointed for life; that dictatorship. Views changes and so do situations, as well as our highest court. According to you Republicans, President Obama must have voted over 400 times. I believe both REP. and DEM. voted for the passage of Health Care Reform. Isn't saying "take out the President" a treat to national security? Is Rush Limbaugh being arrested today, for implying such an idiodic thing. If we suffered with a President who lied and took us into a war that can't be won, then surely we shouldn't want to "take out" this President. The majority of voters didn't vote for Bush, the Supreme Court put him in office. In a democracy, the majority is supposed to rule, but yet Pres. Obama is often accused of Socialsim. All Presidents do things that we as taxpayers don't like, but let's not be savages and promote murdering or "taking out" our leader
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Mar 24, 2010 at 08:51 AM
    Actually Wow, remember when he pissed the justices off when he had congress over ride their ruling? I think this will not be that cut and dry. I remember seeing the stone faces of the SC when they were at one of Obamas speeches. Remember, one said..."no true" loud enough the president heard it. Obama attacked the SC....you just don't let them know how above the law you are over them...I think there is a grudge there to get even with him...
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