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Obama Health Law Attacked in Bachmann Court Filing

U.S. President Barack Obama. Photographer: Mario Proenca/Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama. Photographer: Mario Proenca/Bloomberg

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and 62 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed a court brief backing a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the legality of the Obama administration’s health care legislation.

The filing by Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, and the other lawmakers is one of about a dozen submitted to U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida, this week as he weighs a U.S. motion to throw out the lawsuit.

A group of about 40 economics scholars, including Nobel laureates Eric Maskin, George Akerlof and Kenneth Arrow, today filed their own brief, arguing in favor of the legislative package called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“The requirement to obtain a minimal level of health insurance is predicated on the unique characteristics of the health-care market,” they said, including “the unavoidable need for medical care,” the unpredictability of that need and the inability of care providers to decline care in an emergency.

Led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the states initially sued on March 23, the same day U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, signed the measure into law.

The state officials, who are all Republicans except for Democrat Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana, argued that the law unconstitutionally burdened states with increased costs and individuals with the duty to procure coverage.

‘Without Prior Precedent’

McCollum and his successor, Attorney General-Elect Pam Bondi, sent an open letter to 10 incoming attorneys general and three newly elected governors seeking their participation in the case.

Vinson in October ruled that the case could go forward after finding that the U.S. government’s expansion of power is “simply without prior precedent.” He is scheduled to hear further argument on Dec. 16.

“Congress cannot pass any law that seems to most efficiently address a national problem,” Bachmann and the other representatives said in a brief filed in part by the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice.

“Every federal law must derive from one of the grants of authority found in the Constitution,” the legislators and the ACLJ said today.

Almost 80 legislators from 27 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas, New York, North Carolina and 14 from Vermont, today filed their own briefs, telling Vinson the 20-state challenge to the federal health-care measure should be rejected.

‘Substantial’ Benefits

“The benefits of national health-care reform for states and their citizens will be substantial in part because the size of the problem with health care is so great,” said the lawmakers, some of whom hail from states that filed the federal challenge.

The American Nurses Association, claiming it represents 3.1 million registered nurses, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief today supporting the administration’s legislation, calling it “a significant achievement” for the patients served by association members.

Two days ago, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the non-profit infant health advocate March of Dimes and other organizations also filed a brief backing the act.

John Boehner’s Brief

Incoming House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, and 32 Republican U.S. senators have separately submitted papers arguing the legislation represents an unconstitutional expansion of congressional legislative powers.

“Congress has never before attempted to impose an affirmative obligation to purchase a product or service or participate in any kind of activity” through the constitutional provision they rely on for the health-care law, the senators said.

In his ruling last month, Vinson allowed Florida to proceed on its claim that Medicaid would be expanded dramatically and the states cannot realistically opt out.

He threw out arguments that the law interferes with the state’s sovereignty as an employer and the mandate for individuals to get coverage violates the right to due process of law.

A federal judge in Michigan upheld the constitutionality of the health-care overhaul in October, rejecting an argument by a self-described Christian law center in the first court victory for the new law.

A separate action filed by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is before a federal judge in Richmond. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, has said the trial courts represent “one brief stop on the way to the Supreme Court.”

The case is State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3:10-cv-00091, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew M. Harris in Chicago at; Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at

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