Chris Rizo Mar. 30, 2010, 3:25pm
Catherine Cortez masto (D)
CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline) - Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said Tuesday she will not join a lawsuit suing the federal government over the recently enacted health care bill.
Nevada's Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, has been hammering Masto to join 14 other attorneys general -- mostly his fellow Republicans -- and sue over an element of the health care law what will require Americans to have medical insurance or face financial penalties.
In a letter Tuesday, Masto said she believes Congress acted within its constitutional powers when it passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama last week.
"There is no practical reason for Nevada to join in the litigation, absent a clear and separate legal interest that Nevada has apart from those other states," Masto wrote. "We are not aware of such a reason and you have not directed our attention to one."
Last week, Gibbons sent Masto a terse letter urging her to conclude her legal analysis of the law and opt to file suit.
"The health care legislation presents a question of federal powers versus states' power -- this is a second-year law school analysis," Gibbons wrote. "I understand your concern about spending public funds for frivolous lawsuits. However, a lawsuit initiated by 14 other attorneys general is hardly frivolous."
The health care overhaul is the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.
Critics say the law is unconstitutional, mainly because it contains a mandate for individuals to have health insurance coverage or face an annual penalty of $695. The legislation will also add about 16 million people to the states' Medicaid rolls, which will costs the states.