March 23rd, 2010
05:02 PM ET
5 years ago

States sue to block health care bill

Officials from 14 states have filed suit to block the health care bill.
Officials from 14 states have filed suit to block the health care bill.

(CNN) - Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing that the legislation's requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution.

Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an "unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states" and asks a judge to block its enforcement.

"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 states.

The case was filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and joined by 11 other Republican attorneys general, along with one Democrat. McCollum said the new law also forces states "to do things that are practically impossible to do as a practical matter, and forcing us to do it without giving any resources or money to do it."

McCollum's lawsuit was joined by his counterparts in South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and Washington. Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, filed a separate case in his state Tuesday afternoon.

All but one of those state officials, Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell, are Republicans. But McCollum said the case is "not a partisan issue," and predicted other Democrats would join the suit.

"It's a question for most of us in the states of the costs to our people and to the rights and the freedoms of the individual citizens in upholding our constitutional duties as attorneys general," he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that lawyers have advised the administration that "we'll win these lawsuits." And Renee Landers, a law professor at Suffolk University in Massachusetts, said the Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate commerce and promote the general welfare of Americans.

"If the federal courts follow existing precedents of the United States Supreme Court, I don't think that the claims will be successful," Landers told CNN.

Ryan Wiggins, a spokesman for McCollum, said the case was filed in Pensacola because "we were told that out of all of the places to file in Florida, Pensacola would move the quickest on it."

At least one of the officials who signed onto the lawsuit has run into criticism back home. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, criticized Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna for joining the case and said she would actively oppose the suit.

Separately, legislatures in three dozen states are considering proposed legislation aimed at blocking elements of the health care bill. But Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas, said the Constitution says laws passed by Congress trump state laws.

"We've got a very conservative Supreme Court, but they're not about to overturn 200 years of Constitutional history and interpretation and declare that the supremacy clause is no longer in effect," Jillson said.

– CNN's Peter Hamby and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Gil

    States have done this before and lost with Soc. Security and others. Like the requirement to have car insurance. They have always failed. They will again!

    March 23, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. Samuel Jackson

    The obstructionism never ends. What have the Republican, Conservatives done about Jobs, Home sales, infrastructure rebuilding, or attracting revenues to states that are hurting? What positive changes have they gotten enacted into law? I have never seen a bunch of bitter, hate-filled people than these. It's all about trying to block the President and Democrats from doing anything, despite the costs to the citizens they care for so much. A real dead end politically.

    March 23, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. WONDERFUL

    I am so proud that the American people now have more rights because of this bill. Among many great things, thanks for giving me the power to keep my own doctor no matter what!

    Way to go Mr. President!! Great Job.

    March 23, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. American Patriot

    Apparently, the Republicans were against frivolous lawsuits before they were for them.

    March 23, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    AIG insures big insurance companies, we the tax payers bailed out AIG, big insurance company lobbyist paid millions to Republicans to stop health care reform, AIG continues to give out big bonuses. AIG hasn't paid tax payers back one cent. WHY WOULD ANY STATE WANT TO SUPPORT A REPUBLICAN.

    March 23, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. ran

    Out with ever fear/hate/obstructions elected officials who votes to ban or stop this bill.

    Enough is enough of this obstructionism.

    March 23, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. Chris F. Campbell

    what's the big deal about a mandate? We HAVE to pay social security and medicare insurance by mandate. How is this different? Maybe the selfish rich people should feel what it's like to struggle for a change. Maybe the selfish rich should know what it's like to worry about paying your rent or your grocery bill instead of wondering where they will buy their 9th home. I'd like to see one of them work my job and not have enough money to buy health care. I work my tail off just to make ends meet and I'm still up-side-down in my house and I was a qualified buyer who put 20% down. This economy is killing me and I don't get any bailouts. Let's bail out the wealthy and see how much trickles down. I'll probably get a dime that won't even pay for a phone call.

    March 23, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. Robert

    "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 states.

    Does this mean I don't have to buy auto insurance either or pay my taxes?

    March 23, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  9. Martin Taylor

    well if the republican party say that forcing the Americans to buy health insurance is against the Constitution then forcing the Americans to buy car insurance is also against the Constitution.

    March 23, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. BB

    Rethugs....again.....continuing to waste money!
    Waste money, cry, stomp their feet, pout, whine, they are no good for anything else but this!!!

    March 23, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. Liz

    My state AG (SD) is one of the morons spending money on this losing battle despite the fact we can't balance our state budget and have had to cut funds to education. Why do I have to pay for his posturing and padding of his GOP resume?

    March 23, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Marcello Christiani

    From Holland.

    It works on some way fine to have a global insurance. It is not humain to block it.

    We have this system for years and it works. Nobody dies for rotten money.

    March 23, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Scott, Tucson

    That group picture above shows all that's wrong with this government, we do need a good cleaning out of these crooks and buffoons.

    March 23, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  14. Nicky

    What are they Nuts.They want their state residents to suffer while other people are getting health care. This what you call Republican obstruction.

    March 23, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. charlie

    Please republicans–just let it go . Do something more constructive with your time,like working on how to improve health care over the years.But here is an idea–for the people who do not want to purchase any health ins.,please do not show up at the emergency room when you need help–instead call your nearest republican congressman or senator or state attorney general for help–I know it would help lower my health costs in the future-by not supporting deadbeats like you and i'm sure the above named would like to hear from you in your time of need.

    March 23, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. lila

    They will all lose.

    March 23, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. Ed

    And they should sue. Where does the money come from the states will need to implement this "overhaul?" We could siphon it off from the war budgets.

    March 23, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Michael Lettini

    The Republicants need to understand that they represent the people not the party. Sometimes you need to do what's right regardless of opinion or ideology. They also need to expand their vocabulary and add the word yes to it. But then if they voted yes for something then they'd have to do something and the status quo would change.

    So far all I have heard from the Republicants ... is the word can't. They say we need to start over but have never proposed anything different. The Republicants need to add a word to their vocabulary ... that word is YES.

    They need to become Republicans again not Republicants.

    March 23, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Gerry NH

    Sue sue sue and then lock them up for bribery and other high crimes.

    March 23, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    Every single lawyer I've asked has said the same thing: Supremacy clause trumps all this other crap.

    These GOP AGs are just putting on a show. But that's no surprise, all the GOP has done in the past two years is engage in theatrics and histrionics, probably because they have no actual ideas or solutions.

    March 23, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  21. phoenix86

    The Pelosi Obamacare bill is constitutionally illegal, as it seperates rights from individuals and gives them to others. We have become a Third World nation.

    March 23, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  22. Fed Up

    I guess I am not surprised that, in this shaky economy, these Republican AGs are willing to gamble with their taxpayers' hard earned dollars just to score some dubious political points and make some lawyers even more rich.

    March 23, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. harold

    What are you gonna tell the children who have NO health Insurance in the meantime?..you are pro life at birth and ...well just forget about Health Insurance after you are born..... huh?

    March 23, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. hobart

    The last time this happened was right before the Civil War. Leave it to Republicans to start the next Civil War! Leave it to Republicans to encourage a base the shouts racial epithets at our President and at members of Congress. The Party of Lincoln? Not any more. No way, no how.

    Why do Republicans so hate America?

    March 23, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. double standard

    Just another way for Rep.Attorneys to grease their own bank accounts !!

    March 23, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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