Some GOP States Mounting Legal Challenges To Health Bill
The New York Times: "Officials in a dozen states who oppose the health care bill say they hope to block it in court by arguing that requiring people to buy health insurance is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into people's lives - the equivalent of going a step beyond simply regulating automobiles to requiring people to buy a car. ... But constitutional scholars suggest that such cases would likely amount to no more than a speed bump for health care legislation. The reason, they say, is that Congress has framed the mandate as a tax, which it has well-established powers to create. And Congress's sweeping authority to regulate the nation's economy, they add, has been clear since the 1930s" (Schwartz, 3/22).
Reuters: "Eleven of the [Republican] attorneys general plan to band together in a collective lawsuit on behalf of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington. ... Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, said Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce to force people to buy insurance. The bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance, he added" (Pierog, 3/22).
The Wall Street Journal: The legal challenges could give "the U.S. Supreme Court a fresh opportunity to reopen questions about the limits of federal power. ... The challenges, if they reach the Supreme Court, could result in a new test of the meaning of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads: 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.' The Supreme Court rejected 10th Amendment challenges to the Social Security Act in the 1930s. Jack Balkin, a Yale law professor, said the court would have to reconsider its New Deal precedents to strike down the health-care law" (Bravin, 3/23).
NPR: "Opponents have been gearing up for the legal fight for months. Some of the challenges that will be filed in court are widely viewed as frivolous, while others are not. The first will likely come from states that have enacted laws to exempt themselves from the bill. The Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick is among those who have spearheaded the drive in the states to opt out of various provisions in the law, including the mandate to buy health insurance.... However, a wide variety of experts and scholars across the political spectrum say that opt-out state laws are a political exercise with no legal effect" (Totenberg, 3/23).
The Associated Press: "Experts say none of it is likely to work, but it will keep the issue, and the outrage, alive until Election Day. 'I am surprised by the mobilization of the states. It does strike me as a kind of civil disobedience, a declaration that we're not going to follow the law of the land,' said Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University. 'It doesn't make sense. The federal Constitution couldn't be any clearer that federal law is supreme,' Hall added" (LaVoie, 3/22).
The New York Times, in a separate story: "The battle over health care is poised to move swiftly from Congress back to the country as Democrats, Republicans and a battery of interest groups race to define the legislation and dig in for long-term political and legal fights. President Obama plans to open a new campaign this week to persuade skeptical Americans that the bill holds immediate benefits for them and addresses the nation's shaky fiscal condition. Republicans said they would seek to repeal the measure, challenge its constitutionality and coordinate efforts in statehouses to block its implementation" (Zeleny and Stolberg, 3/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.