Reuters reported yesterday morning that five more states have joined the Florida-led group lawsuit challenging the healthcare system overhaul passed by House Democrats last month. The suit, which now includes 18 states, was filed on March 23rd by mostly Republican attorneys general, and claims that the healthcare reform bill violates state-government rights as defined by the U.S. Constitution, and will force state governments already in financial straits to spend even more money.
While there are a few legal scholars who believe the suit will eventually reach the Supreme Court, most agree that the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which places the powers of the U.S. government ahead of the powers of the individual states, will trump any state-made arguments.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollom, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in his state, told the press, “We welcome the partnership of Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona as we continue fighting to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens and the sovereignty of our states.” Other states which were already on board with the lawsuit are Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington, all of which – except for Louisiana – have Republican attorneys general.
The state of Virginia has also filed a lawsuit – a separate suit – arguing that the healthcare laws requirement that most Americans purchase insurance clashed with a state law that exempts Virginians from imposed federal fines for NOT having insurance.
In addition to exacerbating political divisiveness within communities, the lawsuit filings have also touched off debates about whether the U.S. government should be sued at all.
In response to the original March 23 filing, the Justice Department, which is responsible for defending U.S. law in court, has stated that it will “vigorously fight any challenges to the new healthcare law,” which it maintains is constitutional.