A FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT…. When it comes to health care reform, it makes sense that Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act would vote against it. It also makes sense that they’d complain about it now that it’s law. If you think voters are gullible rubes, it might even make sense for Republicans to pledge a “full repeal” of the law.
But filing a lawsuit to challenge the law and invite judicial activism, basically just to make Tea Party extremists happy, is a colossal waste.
I saw a report the other day that 13 state attorneys general who are challenging the law, questioning the constitutionality of the individual mandate, failed to include “any specific case citations to buttress the underlying claim that it is unconstitutional.”* A.L. took a look at the lawsuit and concluded, “It is beyond frivolous. I can’t believe actual lawyers are willing to sign it.”
In Georgia, the state AG said he wouldn’t waste taxpayer money on such a weak case, but the far-right governor intervened anyway.
Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, has refused to file an anti-health care mandate lawsuit, and called other AGs’ decisions to do so “political gamesmanship.” Undaunted — and, of course, very concerned about the rule of law — Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) is appointing a “special attorney general” to sue the federal government anyway.
It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.
It’s worth remembering that many of the AGs involved with this ridiculous exercise are running for governor in their respective states, and likely are wasting time and money on this case to impress in-state Republican voters (and donors). This dynamic has not gone unnoticed.
In Michigan, for example, the Detroit Free Press blasted state AG Mike Cox: “As a candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, Cox has every right to pander to the Tea Party adherents many believe will play a decisive role in August’s Republican primary. As Michigan’s top law enforcement officer, he should know better than to pursue his specious claim that Congress has exceeded its constitutional authority.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett, in an apparent bid to help his own gubernatorial campaign, is also part of the pointless litigation. Some state lawmakers are so annoyed by the waste of taxpayer resources that they’re threatening to cut funding for Corbett’s office.
If there were any justice, these attorneys general would face a voter backlash for participating in such a wasteful stunt.
* Update: I’ve talked to several readers today who have far more expertise on this point than I do, and they agree that Ambinder’s observation is not quite what it seems, and that the lack of specific case citations in the filing is not especially noteworthy. Fair enough. The larger point, however, about the weakness of this lawsuit, the waste of public resources, and the petty partisan motivations behind the litigation, stand.