Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers is joining roughly a dozen other attorneys general across the country who plan to challenge the constitutionality of the health reform bill passed Sunday night in Washington. Suthers, a Republican running for re-election, said he didn’t believe the federal government could force individual Americans to pay for a product they might not want.
“The individual mandate to purchase insurance or suffer economic sanction violates constitutional principles and lacks constitutional authority,” Suthers said in a release. “The Constitution gives Congress the enumerated powers to regulate those engaged in interstate commerce. It does not give the Congress the power to compel a citizen, who would otherwise choose to be inactive in the marketplace, to purchase a product or service and thereby become subject to congressional regulation.”
Colorado would so far be joining a lawsuit together with South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama. The states’ attorneys have to wait for Pres. Obama to sign the legislation into law before filing the suit. Obama plans to sign the legislation at a White House ceremony Tuesday.
Bobby Clark, executive director of progressive activist group ProgressNow, says the list of states involved in the suit marks out the suit as mere partisan electoral politics.
“Attorney General Suthers is using taxpayer resources to help launch a partisan attack against healthcare reform. Nearly every Coloradan will benefit in some way from this historic healthcare reform, and his actions show he is more concerned with politics than the health and lives of Coloradans. Our Republican Attorney General is blatantly toeing his party’s partisan line, and and he’s willing to spend Colorado tax dollars to do it.”
Clark points out that all of the attorneys general involved in the suit are at this point Republicans. One of the leaders in the lawsuit is Florida Attorney General William McCollum, a Republican running for governor in 2010.
The health reform bill requires individual Americans to obtain insurance coverage. It also requires that all businesses that employ more than 50 workers provide coverage or pay $2,000 fines for each worker receiving government-subsidized coverage. The legislation aims to bring as many Americans as possible into the paying ranks of the insured in an effort to expand coverage and drive insurance-policy prices down.
“Although government can tax commercial activity, this law would constitute a tax on an individual’s commercial inactivity,” Suthers’ office wrote. “Congress cannot exercise its tax powers to “coerce’ individuals or businesses.”
Many observers are looking to requirements that drivers buy auto insurance as a point of reference.
Detractors of the health care bill say that the auto-insurance mandate is tied to the choice to drive. Drivers are voluntarily entering the driving market.
But defenders of the new health care bill say the new mandate is also connected to commerce, because everyone at some point requires medical care, which is why emergency rooms are presently overflowing with the uninsured.