Six says no 'constitutional defects' in health care law
Steve Six (D)
Lynn Jenkins (R)
TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline)-Scoffing at Republican legislators, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six says he will not join a multistate GOP-led lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the nation's new health care law.
In a statement late last week, the Democratic attorney general said the lawsuit led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was unlikely to succeed.
Six said his office did not find "any constitutional defects" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed this month.
"I do not believe that Kansas can successfully challenge the law," Six said, adding that "it would not be legally or fiscally responsible to pursue this litigation."
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., had called her state to join the lawsuit, which more than a dozen state attorneys general have joined. In response, Six's office said it would conduct a legal review of the lawsuit.
In a statement decrying Six's decision, Jenkins said: "Attorney General Six's decision not to challenge this bill because others are already doing it and he's not certain it would succeed is extremely disappointing and a break from our state's storied history founded in personal responsibility and individual liberty."
The new health care law, which marks the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled, will require, among other mandates, that most Americans have medical insurance or face financial penalties.
Under the law, beginning in 2014, individuals who flout the mandate face an annual penalty of $695, while employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable health coverage.
The attorneys general who are a party to the lawsuit say that provision violates the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional.
Current parties to the larger health care lawsuit are the AGs from Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, South Dakota and Washington.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is the only Democrat suing over the legislation signed into law last week. Virginia's attorney general filed a separate lawsuit challenging the heath care overhaul.