updated: 9/28/2011 12:55:23 PM
Indiana is one of 26 states to take a legal challenge to the federal health care act to the United States Supreme Court. The states have asked the high court whether it is constitutional for Congress that mandate individuals purchase health insurance.
September 28, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS – Today 26 states including Indiana asked the United States Supreme Court to consider their legal challenge to the federal health care law.
By filing a cert petition, the states formally ask the nation’s highest court to decide whether it is constitutional for Congress to mandate private individuals to buy health insurance or face a financial penalty – and if not, whether the entire health care law must be invalidated.
“From the outset it has been our goal to bring this case to the United States Supreme Court, and today we ask the court to hear the question of whether Congress can mandate an individual to make a private purchase or suffer a fine. It was both appropriate and necessary for the states to challenge whether Congress and the President have this unprecedented claim of authority within their enumerated powers under the Constitution,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.
The plaintiffs now include Indiana, Florida, 24 other states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and two private individuals. Originally filed in March 2010, the suit alleges the new federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. A federal district court in Pensacola, Florida, agreed and on January 31 struck down the entire law as unconstitutional. The federal government appealed the lower court decision, but on August 12 the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled partially in favor of the states, holding that the individual mandate portion of the federal law is unconstitutional, though allowing other parts of the law to stand.
Because the 11th Circuit did not rule for the states on all counts, the states today have formally requested United States Supreme Court intervention, formally called filing a petition for writ of certiorari. The 26 states are represented by former United States Solicitor General Paul Clement, who filed the 38-page brief asking the Supreme Court to hear the case during its new term that starts next week. It will be up to the Supreme Court justices to decide whether to hear the states’ lawsuit or decline and allow the lower court ruling to stand. If the high court agrees to hear the case, there could be additional briefing and oral argument, likely culminating in a decision sometime next year.
“There is no question that we need reform of the health care system in this country. But this reform must pass constitutional muster; and the sweeping individual mandate must be put to the test before we open the door to Congress requiring people to buy other commercial products against their will. One of my duties as Attorney General is to defend the state from injurious federal encroachment and defend against infringing upon the rights of individuals. Joining this respectful legal challenge with the other states at no additional cost to Indiana taxpayers was the proper way to assert the state’s authority,” Zoeller added.
Zoeller has not spent additional tax dollars on the multistate challenge beyond his office’s regular budget the Legislature previously approved. Indiana has not paid legal fees to join the lawsuit or appeal and has not paid anything for outside legal counsel. Other states have borne the costs.
In February 2010, at U.S. Senator Richard Lugar’s request, Zoeller and Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher prepared a 55-page report and analysis of the federal health care legislation still before Congress at the time. The issues the Attorney General’s report cited concerning the individual mandate and the federal requirement on state governments to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs helped the plaintiff states prepare some of the legal arguments that the group later filed in their legal challenge in the Florida federal court.
In addition to Indiana and Florida, the plaintiff states bringing the multi-state challenge include South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Maine and Iowa. The U.S. Department of Justice represents the federal government defendants.
Source: Indiana Office of the Attorney General