As health care reform seems poised to become the law of the land, opponents of the legislation in Colorado are seeking ways to subvert the newly enshrined Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Among these opponents is Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who joined with attorneys general in over ten other states to declare unconstitutional the individual insurance mandate, which forces some citizens to purchase insurance.
Suthers's office released a statement today:
"The United State Constitution enshrines a form of limited government to protect the rights of the states under a system of federalism and to protect the individual freedom of American citizens. The individual mandate to purchase insurance or suffer economic sanction violates constitutional principles and lacks constitutional authority... 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. Such an expansion of the current understanding of the Commerce Clause would leave no private sphere of individual commercial decision making beyond the reach of the federal government. It would render the 10th Amendment meaningless."
Suthers, a former Bush-appointed U.S. attorney, has been vocal in his opposition to health care reform. In December, he joined several other AG's in signing a letter denouncing the so-called "Corrnhusker Kickback" deal between Senate Democrats and Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson as unconstitutional.
According to the AP, at least 9 other attorneys general have signed on to the law suit which, according to Suthers, "will challenge the constitutionality of the penalties included in the legislation for individuals that decide to forgo purchasing health insurance."
In an interview with the AP, Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University in North Carolina dismissed the lawsuit as unlikely to succeed.
"It doesn't make sense. The federal Constitution couldn't be any clearer that federal law is supreme," Hall said.
Meanwhile, Jon Caldara of the conservative Independence Institute, is collecting signatures in hopes of landing an initiative on November's ballot that would also challenge the individual mandate for health insurance.