Ga. AG thinks health care challenge will fail

By John O'Brien | Mar 24, 2010


ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) - Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker won't join a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform legislation, claiming the challenges of other AGs have "no legal merit."

Baker made his stance known Wednesday in a letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican who had asked Baker to initiate the litigation. Baker, a Democrat, is running for governor this year.

"While I understand that the new law is the subject of ongoing debate here in Georgia and around the nation, I do not believe that Georgia has a viable legal claim against the United States," Baker wrote.

Several Republican and one Democratic attorneys general do believe there is a viable legal claim, however. They filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the legislation, signed this week by President Barack Obama.

They say the bill contains a mandate for individuals to have health insurance coverage or face an annual penalty of $695.

Businesses with more than 50 workers would have to provide coverage or pay a $2,000-a-worker penalty if any of their employees get government-subsidized plans on their own.

"No public policy goal--no matter how important or well-intentioned--can be allowed to trample the protections and rights guaranteed by our Constitution," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

The attorneys general filed their lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, just minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law.

Attorneys general a party to the lawsuit are from Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and Washington.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a separate lawsuit in his state, while Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is the only Democrat who joined Republicans in their effort to block the law.

Baker's letter says their argument will fail because the only decision on the topic, a challenge to a Massachusetts law that required citizens to purchase health insurance, failed.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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