The attorney general of Kentucky is dismissing calls from leading Republican officials to sue the federal government to block the recently passed health care legislation.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Jack Conway, a Democratic candidate for Senate and current Kentucky AG, described talk of health care lawsuits as the baseless meandering of Tea Party conspiracy theorists; not to mention a potentially large waste of taxpayer money.
"Most constitutional scholars looking at this issue say it is absolutely clear that these lawsuits will not be successful," Conway said. "While it may make for good Tea Party politics for [Republican Senatorial candidate] Rand Paul and Sarah Palin, it makes for really lousy lawsuits. And I'm not going to waste the taxpayer resources of the people of Kentucky on political stunts."
"The last thing I need is a lecture on the constitutional law from Rand Raul or Sarah Palin," he added.
Since health care reform passed into law, a host of state attorneys general have pledged to launch lawsuits challenging the legality of the bill's mandate that individuals must own a form of insurance coverage. Conway, likewise, has been urged by conservatives in the state to do the same even though, as he predicts, it could require tens of thousands of dollars and "significant hours for three or four attorneys."
"In Kentucky, my budget has been cut by 26 percent," Conway said. "We are not just cut to the bone, we are into the bone... To take some of my assistant AGs and put them on a frivolous lawsuit makes no sense."
Particularly if the merits of the potential suit are baseless. Conway argued that the commerce clause made clear that the federal government has the authority to regulate in the area of insurance mandates. He also dismissed the idea that the health care legislation was a violation of the 10th Amendment, saying that there was nothing "commandeering" about the language. "If the states choose not to set up an exchange, [Health and Human Services] does it for them," Conway said. Finally, he argued that if a theoretical lawsuit were to be upheld, it could "potentially pave the legal way to do away with Social Security" -- the logic being that Congress could no longer tax Americans for the purpose of ensuring broader social services.
Outlining such defined legal arguments in favor of health care legislation may not seem to be the smartest political tactic for a Senate candidate in a decidedly conservative state. But Conway remains a firm supporter of the bill, citing the more than 650,000 people in his state who are currently uninsured, and the notion that the legislation has been hurt, primarily by a torrent of baseless vilification.
"Once people see this good provisions in this bill, that you can't be denied coverage for a preexisting condition... once you see the insurance reforms that are going to help people in this bill, I think support will only grow," Conway said. "The Republicans are going to try and put health care around the necks of Democrats this fall. While Kentucky may be more conservative on social issues, it is a state with tremendous democratic needs. And this is a major democratic need."