Barr says it's wrong to impeach AG Baker

By John O'Brien | Apr 2, 2010


ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) - A former Georgia Congressman recently wrote that an effort by state lawmakers to impeach Attorney General Thurbert Baker is misguided.

Bob Barr wrote in an editorial that was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Baker should not be punished for declining to join a lawsuit filed by other AGs that challenges recently passed federal health care reform.

Barr spent 1995-2003 in the House of Representatives and ran for president as a Libertarian in 2008.

Gov. Sonny Perdue had asked Baker to add Georgia to the lawsuit, filed in Florida federal court. House Republicans have introduced articles of impeachment against Baker.

"Notwithstanding the uphill trek such lawsuits face, the extent to which the new law improperly expands federal power over state and individual liberty, requires that its provisions not go unchallenged," Barr wrote.

"However, seeking to punish an attorney, especially a constitutional officer such as a state attorney general, simply because his professional judgment has led him to a contrary conclusion, is highly inappropriate and diminishes the credibility of those advocating such a measure to have their views on the law prevail."

While in Congress, Barr introduced a resolution to investigate a possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Baker "exercised his discretion and declined the governor's invitation," Barr wrote, noting Perdue could still hire outside lawyers to represent Georgia in a challenge.

Baker, who is running for governor this year, said last week that the challenges filed by several state attorneys general around the country have "no legal merit" and predicted they would fail.

Several Republican attorneys general and one Democratic AG filed a lawsuit March 23 challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.

They say the bill unfairly 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.

The lawsuit was filed in Florida federal court. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed his own suit in Virginia federal court.

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

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