Edmondson tells Okla. legislators to 'fish or cut bait' on lawsuit resolution

By Chris Rizo | Apr 16, 2010

Drew Edmondson (D)

TULSA, Okla. (Legal Newsline)-Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson on Friday said Republican lawmakers should "fish or cut bait" on a resolution that would force him to file a challenge to the national health care overhaul.

At a state Capitol press conference, the Democratic attorney general and gubernatorial candidate said Republican leaders should get the measure approved if they are serious about challenging the law signed by President Barack Obama last month.

"If they are serious about it, pass it," Edmondson said Friday of the resolution, according to the Tulsa World.

Senate Joint Resolution 64 would compel Edmondson to officially challenge the law that would require most Americans to have health insurance or face penalties. The resolution has passed the Senate and remains in the House.

Currently, 20 states are challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Edmondson said last week he would not on his own join the multistate challenge filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. But if the Legislature passes a measure directing him to join other states in challenging the health care law he will have no choice but to do so.

"This office does not enter lawsuits lightly nor do we enter lawsuits based on political expediency," Edmondson said in a statement. "That said, if the Legislature passes a resolution directing this office to enter the lawsuit, we will do so as required by statute."

At the time, Edmondson said 17 lawyers in his office poured over the mammoth statute and found no constitutional defects. He conceded that the law is "the flawed result of a flawed process" in Congress.

"It's easy for elected officials and political candidates with no seat at the table to posture, but it's an entirely different thing to sue Uncle Sam. There are consequences that must be weighed," Edmondson said.

The health care overhaul will expand insurance coverage to more than 32 million Americans, marking the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.

U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, the Republican frontrunner for governor, has criticized Edmondson for not on his own challenging the "unconstitutional federal takeover of health care." She said the law will cost the state jobs and millions of dollars in unfunded costs.

In addition to the individual insurance mandate, the new law will require businesses with more than 50 workers to provide employees health coverage or pay a $2,000-a-worker penalty if any of their employees get government-subsidized plans on their own.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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