Brown urged to probe health care overhaul

By Chris Rizo | Mar 23, 2010

Jerry Brown (D)

Tom Harman (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown is being urged by some Republicans to probe the federal health care overhaul signed today by President Barack Obama.

They want Brown to join his counterparts from 13 other states and sue to block the legislation, which will require most Americans to have health insurance.

A controversial element of the new law will require all Americans to have medical insurance or face an annual penalty of $695. Meanwhile, employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable health coverage.

The provision provides subsidies to help low- and middle-income workers buy coverage. The plan also calls for new taxes on wealthy Americans and the nation's well-insured.

State Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach, the ranking Republican on the state Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the federal legislation would be an illegal expansion of federal authority under the Commerce Clause.

"This bill assumes that congressional power over the states, their citizens, and their consumers' everyday economic decisions is vast and limitless -- a position that is constitutionally untenable, completely unprecedented, and contradictory to fundamental principles of federalism and limited government," Harman wrote to Brown.

He cited U.S. Supreme Court cases such as United States v. Lopez in 1995 and United States v. Morrison in 2000 limit the ability of Congress to regulate non-economic activities.

"Further, the health care bill imposes an unfunded mandate upon states that callously ignores the precarious fiscal condition in which California and other struggling states are currently embroiled," Harman said.

Also calling for California to take legal action was state Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta.

"I think that many Californians share the same view that this is the greatest expansion of government in a generation," Hollingsworh was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

Earlier today, attorneys general from 13 states filed a lawsuit over the health care overhaul, citing the same concerns as Harman. The group included one Democrat, Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana.

The group's federal lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, Fla., just minutes after the president signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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