W.Va. AG seeks summary judgment in lawsuit against Obama Administration

By Chris Dickerson | Sep 18, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit West Virginia filed against the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Morrisey said the lawsuit, which was filed in July in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges President Obama’s “practice of cherry-picking which laws his administration will enforce.”

The lawsuit asks the court to force the “administration to follow and respect plainly written laws and the Constitution.”

“The Constitution and laws of the United States prohibit the President from picking and choosing the laws that he enforces, yet that is precisely what the President and his agencies have done with many federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act,” Morrisey said in a statement. “The State of West Virginia filed this lawsuit against just one of the many examples because it uniquely harms West Virginia and other states by unlawfully shifting to them the exclusive enforcement responsibility for a politically unpopular part of the ACA.”

In November, Obama directed DHHS to stop federal enforcement of market requirements contained within the ACA. Those requirements outlined which private health insurance plans were legal under the new health care law. DHHS enacted a binding rule preventing federal enforcement of the market requirements until October 2016, and shifted responsibility for deciding which plans should be allowed to the states.

Morrisey said the lawsuit filed by West Virginia alleges that move is unlawful in four ways:

-It violates the plain text of the ACA which mandates HHS shall enforce the federal market requirements if the states have not voluntarily done so;

-The rule was issued without the notice-and-comment procedure required by the Administrative Procedure Act;

-It unlawfully delegates federal executive authority to the states; and

-The rule violates the 10th Amendment and the anti-commandeering doctrine, by shifting political accountability for deciding whether to enforce the federal market requirements from the federal government to the states.

The motion for summary judgment asks the court to rule on the lawsuit as quickly as possible because West Virginia now must either spend resources to enforce the federal requirements and suffer the scorn for canceled plans, or refuse to enforce them and suffer blame among those citizens who think the federal requirements are good policy.

The motion also asks for a quick resolution because the so-called “Administrative Fix” makes the state politically accountable for federal policy.

“Americans who like their health insurance plans should be able to keep those plans, of course, just as the President promised them,” Morrisey said. “But the President’s administrative solution to his flawed law is illegal and comes at the expense of the states by making them solely responsible and accountable for the unpopular and technically problematic parts of the law.”

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