March 19th, 2010
03:01 PM ET
13 years ago

Two state attorneys general ready to file lawsuit on health care

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McMaster told CNN he will file a lawsuit quickly, if the bill is passed."]
(CNN) - Should the Democrats' health care reform bill make it to President Obama's desk, at least two Republican state attorneys general are prepared to file a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster told CNN he and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum are ready to take issue with a controversial provision known as "the cornhusker kickback" that exempted the state of Nebraska from paying for Medicare costs and with another provision that mandates all Americans buy health insurance.

The provision giving special treatment to Nebraska was not included in the House bill unveiled Thursday but the legislation must be returned to the Senate before final passage. Democratic leaders have vowed that provision is dead but thirteen other attorney generals in addition to McMaster and McCollum have already signed on to the plan to file a lawsuit if the so-called "cornhusker kickback" is included in any final version of the bill signed by Obama.

But even if that controversial provision is removed, McMaster and McCollum say the bill's individual mandate provision is an unconstitutional encroachment on state authority as protected by the 10th Amendment - the part of the Constitution that provides all powers not explicitly granted to the federal government continue to remain with the states.

"The individual mandate is unconstitutional and a violation of state sovereignty and individual liberty," McMaster told CNN. "This is the most egregious, unconstitutional legislation that we can remember."

But proponents of the legislation maintain it is clearly constitutional under the federal government's constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce - a power the Supreme Court has long said provides Congress with wide discretion to pass legislation in areas not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.

But McMaster says this bill is a clear departure from what the Supreme Court has said was permissible in the past because, instead of regulating a pre-existing purchase, the health care bill requires individuals to make a purchase of insurance coverage.

"If you choose to get into interstate commerce, the Congress can regulate it," he said. "But here, the difference is that this is requiring folks to get into interstate commerce by buying insurance. That's blatantly unconstitutional I believe."

While McMaster and McCollum are seeking their states' respective GOP gubernatorial nominations, McMaster says their lawsuit has nothing to do with politics.

"We are motivated by the law, according to the constitution," McMaster said.

Filed under: Bill McCollum • Health care • Henry McMaster • Popular Posts
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. The Other Michael in Houston

    The Republican Jihadist Senators and House of Reps cannot defeat this bill, what makes you think you can?

    March 19, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    LOL what a waste of tax payer money. CNN already had their legal expert said it doesn't hold water. It won't do any good. This is just for show. For a party who cries about spending money, they sure know how to throw it away.

    But I am sure those "activist" judges Bush appointed will make another mistake (on purpose).

    March 19, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Okay, explain Car Insurance then.

    Oh, you can't. Oh, your argument is that it's needed to protect others?

    What about protecting children from being Orphans by giving their parents health insurance?

    What about the fact that people who use emergency room care without insurance raise my premiums and Hospital costs?

    Or did we just forget Article 6 of the Constitution?

    It's the latter.

    March 19, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    "But proponents of the legislation maintain it is clearly constitutional under the federal government's constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce – a power the Supreme Court has long said provides Congress with wide discretion to pass legislation in areas not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution."

    Looks like O-Blah-Blah is going to have to go up against the 5 Supreme Court Justices he derided in the SOTU address. Good luck with that, Barry... you really put your foot in your mouth with that one.

    March 19, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Joseph

    There would be no question that the Obamacare is unconstitutional. We do think it is our constitutional right whether we want to buy a good or service or not. The Government can not force us to buy Obamacare. If Obamacare stands, next we will have to buy vegies, because it improves our health? Only communist countries can accomplish this!

    March 19, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. willard bullock

    I am great keep payment for medicare so I belived that is no matter or reason cause obama have too much trouble

    March 19, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. CW

    Yeah, good luck with all that. All you're going to do is cost your tax payers a lot of money.

    March 19, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom

    South Carolina has a HUGE Budget DEFICIT but they are willing to waster money on this?

    And Florida too? Florida's deficit is $6 billion, their schools and hospitals are hurting from cut backs but they have the time and money to bring a lawsuit against the Healthcare Bill that will help their citizens?! Crazy.

    March 19, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. gt

    thank goddness....

    March 19, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Joyce

    I honestly do not understand the Republicans. Should the health care reform pass, people like myself actually has a fighting chance to get proper treatment. Why all these efforts to stall the one major reform this country needs? Are they not in office to look after the interest of the majority? Instead of helping this President fix things, get things done, it's all about party political lines.
    The country deserves a better political opposition party.

    March 19, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Let the Constitutional Law Professor strut his stuff!! If they have a legit case let them prove it.

    I've got tons of popcorn. I'm going to sit back and see who gets their rear end handed to them with a bow tied around it. I'm betting it'll be these attorney generals. It'll be along the lines of his appearance on FOX this week, and the tails-between-their-legs experience that he delivered to the Rethugs when he met with them on their home court face to face in Washington DC.

    I'm calling their bluff! Don't forget that the President is NOT A CITIZEN. If your case starts to for apart you can always fall back on that!! Bon chance!

    March 19, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    I'll be following these lawsuits as closely as the ones filed on President Obama and his Birth Certificate.


    Especially when Article 6 of the Constitution supercedes the 10th Amendment since Insurance Companies a re Interstate.

    Sad that I know more about the Constitution that these supposed lawmakers do.

    March 19, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. chris l

    The anti American Radical Liberal Party(aka The American Al Queda Group) should all be thrown into Gitmo for treason. They should also all be waterboarded and treated like enemy combatents. THE DEMOCRATS ARE A DISGRACE. THEY ARE A THREAT TO THIS COUNTRY AND NEED TO BE REMOVED FROM ANY POSITION OF POWER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. One Big Ass Mistake America!!!

    March 19, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. DNC Authoritarian Health Bill 2010 ?....

    Democrats, Socialists, & special interests EXPLOIT the Historic nature of Obama's presidency (including Obama himself) for BONUS MONEY to their districts (and themselves) or Leftist (socialist) amendments (SOCIALIZED HEALTH 2010). The year of 2009 will be the year of DNC GREED , as the DNC call others greedy in the so called private sector. EXPLOITING Victims (a scare tactic that Obama also uses) FOR Millions in funding or reckless Socialist ideals, appears to be systematic for the DNC. The Socialized Health Bill will Control the Habits of people (diet, eating, habits,etc.), therefore, it is a Bill that takes away rights from people. (Note: Republicans are the party of Abraham Lincoln, Reagon, Individual Rights,etc.)

    March 19, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. rachel

    If it were up to Obama indiviual states would have no rights because federal law would trump everything.

    March 19, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Ohian

    Figures, the Republicans are already gearing up the dirty trick machine!

    March 19, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. John

    You see this is why the Democrats need to stop trying to appease so-called Moderates and Republicans with purchase mandates and instead go with a single payer public option.

    These Republicans will put countless Americans in potential harm just to score a political victory, it is truly sickening.

    Down with Republicans, down with the insurance industry, its time for a REAL American Revolution.

    March 19, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. NC

    Maybe the states that don't want HCR don't want anything else from the Federal Government. These are some of the same states that are always begging for help from the Federal Government.

    March 19, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Randy

    Hooray for them. This whole health care bill has been underhanded, if not illegal.

    March 19, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. How are you paying for it???


    Someone with some common sense

    March 19, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Robert

    They are in no way motivated according to law or the constitution. They just don't like how badly they lost the last election and they don't want anything to work out for the Dems or they may stay in power for a long time. What if it turns out that the Dems social programs actually work and help people? How would Repubs ever get into office again? That's the motivation.

    March 19, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. White Picket Fence

    More bluffery and puffery and propaganda. While I don't agree with forcing people to buy insurance, I do think the rest of this bill stand tall on it's own. Force the medical industry to stop overpricing the cost of care and the rest will fall into place. Ever looked at an ER bill? $45 for ONE Tylenol... $78 for one pain pill. Now THAT needs justification, and you can bet your booty they don't have any.

    March 19, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Susan

    Today’s health care debate is no longer about health care. This has become a concern about Democracy.

    The United States government was not formed to babysit us and think for us. Democracy stands for freedom of choice and accepting the responsibility and consequences of our choices.

    Current rhetoric states that we can choose not to have health insurance and to pay a fine when we file our tax forms. In reality, that choice is stripped away by the ruling that most employers will be fined if they don’t get 100% participation in the health care reform insurance mandate. If I opt to pay the fine instead of purchasing health insurance, do you think I’ll still have a job if my employer will be penalized along with me?

    I’ve read that President Obama is telling Congress that a vote against the Senate Health Care bill is a vote against health care reform. That’s bully talk. In reality, voting NO for this bill is a ‘YES vote for Democracy’.

    March 19, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Preston kathy

    Pkm if your sick and need to see a doctor you do not careif the goverment runs it or not the republis have there insurance they do not care about any one who is poor

    March 19, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Funny, as soon as I read the headline, I knew South Carolina would be one of the states. Why don't they just secede, so that my tax dollars no longer get wasted on propping up their backwards little hick state? Have a nice day!

    March 19, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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