Wis. gov gives go-ahead for health care challenge

Jessica M. Karmasek Jan. 4, 2011, 12:59pm

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker authorized Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday to proceed on behalf of the state with a legal challenge to President Barack Obama's health care reform act.

Walker, a Republican, said in November following his election that he would give Van Hollen the green light to join the federal lawsuit.

Van Hollen, who was reelected in November, had requested permission to join the suit in the spring but was denied by state officials, most of whom were Democrats.

Now, the state has a Republican governor and the GOP is in control of both chambers of the Legislature.

The health care reform, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

Van Hollen said in a statement on Monday that this regulatory scheme is unprecedented for the federal government and unconstitutional.

"The Constitution places limits on the power of the federal government, and these limits must be defended or they will disappear," the attorney general said.

"Never before has the federal government required an individual to either buy government-approved insurance or pay a penalty. And nowhere does the Constitution authorize Congress to regulate in this manner."

Twenty states, so far, have joined a multi-state challenge being brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, and more -- like Wisconsin -- are looking to join the suit. Currently, summary judgment motions have been filed and argued.

And in a related case brought by Virginia, a federal district court has ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Van Hollen said on Monday he expects to take action on behalf of the state "promptly."

Meanwhile, new Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was sworn in Tuesday morning, told Fox News she was "absolutely" going to continue outgoing Attorney General Bill McCollum's multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration.

Bondi said in the interview that she's "very confident" the states will win.

"I feel very confident that we will prevail and we will make it to the 11th Circuit, and then we will be at the Supreme Court soon. I look forward to that. I firmly believe it is unconstitutional, and I can't wait to make it to Supreme Court," she told Fox host Greta Van Susteren.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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