TAMPA, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, in a speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, used the opportunity to attack President Barack Obama's controversial health care law.
Bondi, Florida's first female attorney general, and Olens were among those asked to headline the convention, held in Tampa this week.
"As attorneys general, we have been on the front line defending the Constitution -- and the American people -- from a president driven to exercise government power over our freedoms, our rights, and our lives," Olens told the crowd.
"We know that the Constitution limits federal power, but President Obama clearly believes those limits just get in his way.
"So he ignores them. Time and again."
Bondi, who called Obamacare "Exhibit A," was the lead attorney general in the lawsuit to overturn Obama's health care law.
"We did everything in our power to stop it, taking the fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court," Olens said.
More than two years after the president's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the nation's high court ruled 5-4 that most of it is constitutional.
In its highly-anticipated ruling in June, the Court said the controversial provision of the health care reform requiring individuals to purchase insurance or face a financial penalty is a constitutional tax.
However, the states prevailed on two arguments.
"The Court agreed that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not allow the federal government to force you to purchase a product you don't want," Bondi explained.
"The Court agreed that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to force states to adopt a budget-busting expansion of Medicaid."
But then came "the shocker," Olens said.
"The Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance mandate by calling it something the president swore it never was -- a tax," he said. "At every stage of the process, President Obama and Congressional Democrats promised us that the mandate was not a tax.
"Because they knew Americans were hurting, and the last thing we needed was another tax. Because they knew -- if the American public were told that Obamacare was just a massive tax hike -- they wouldn't have a prayer of passing it."
Instead, Obama and Democrats called it a "mandate," Bondi said.
"Then they turned around, and without a shred of shame, asked the Court to call the mandate a tax," she told the crowd. "Yet, the President can't bring himself to acknowledge publicly that the only reason his 'Unaffordable Care Act' still stands -- is because it is a tax.
"This is what happens when a president has such total disregard for our individual liberty that he knowingly and purposely imposes unwarranted restrictions against the will of the people."
She continued, "This is not why our Founding Fathers risked their lives and their fortunes when they created a nation. This is not why young American men and women today risk their lives in defense of freedom."
Both Bondi and Olens said the lawsuit is a reminder not only that the Constitution limits the power of government but also of the "precious relationship" between federalism and individual liberty.
"And though we fundamentally disagree with his decision, Chief Justice Roberts did observe that it is not the Supreme Court's 'job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,'" Olens said.
Instead, it is the American people's job to make a new choice, he said.
"It is time to stand up and say, in a loud, clear voice, 'Enough.' It is time to repeal Obamacare. It is time to stop those who ignore the Constitution when it's expedient," Bondi told the crowd, asking them to vote for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.