Attorney General Chris Koster says he is taking seriously the legislature’s call for him to join the lawsuit against the federal health care law.
The House earlier this year approved HR 39, a resolution asking that the Attorney General either file an independent lawsuit or join the lawsuit filed by 20 other states against federal health care legislation. The main thrust of the lawsuits questions the legality of requiring Americans to buy health insurance. The resolution approved by the House also calls on Governor Nixon to urge the Attorney General to join the lawsuit and asks Missouri’s congressional delegation to vote to repeal the health care law.
Koster has told Missourinet affiliate KWIX that he expects to make a decision in the next few weeks about whether Missouri should join the legal challenge of the health care law.
“So, what we’re trying to do at the AG’s office is to put it purely in a constitutional question; in a constitutional context. And answer the question that is outside of the realm of politics,” Koster says. “And that is: is the Commerce Clause an unlimited vehicle, does it have any limits at all?”
Koster says the most important part of his consideration is placing the issue in a constitutional context.
“Can Congress do anything that it wants under the Commerce Clause or as we live in an environment of enumerated powers of the Congress and the rest of the powers are left to the states,” says Koster. “In that enumerated environment, does the Commerce Clause have a limit? And that is the constitutional question.”
Koster says the health care law poses “one of the most important constitutional questions of our time”. He expects to reach a conclusion on whether to join the lawsuit in the next few weeks.
The issue has political implications. Republicans control the state legislature and have been eager this year to score political points against President Obama, a Democrat. Health care has been a prime target, especially since Missouri voters last August overwhelmingly approved a ballot issue that rejects federal health care mandates. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, a Republican expected to run for governor against incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon, has filed a lawsuit seeking the overturn of the healthcare lawsuit.
Mike Lear, KWIX, contributed to this report.