Twenty-six Republicans serving in the Arkansas House and Senate have asked Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation approved Sunday by Congress.
According to note from Rep. Rick Green, R-Van Buren, the constitutionality of the law “will rest upon whether the ‘Commerce Clause’ is applicable or whether the Federal Government is prohibited from imposing its will on individual citizens when forcing them to purchase insurance or face fines and penalties.”
Fort Smith area legislators among the 26 to seek the AG opinion are Reps. Frank Glidewell of Fort Smith; Green of Van Buren; Stephanie Malone of Fort Smith, Mark Martin (representing northern Crawford County); Beverly Pyle of Cedarville; Terry Rice of Waldron; and Sen. Denny Altes of Fort Smith.
McDaniel, a Democrat, said Monday (Mar. 22) he would not join at least 10 U.S. states whose executives have said they would challenge the legality of the federal health care legislation.
“Attorney General McDaniel and his staff have done extensive research on this matter and have determined that any lawsuit challenging the new health care law is unlikely to prevail. Therefore, the Attorney General won’t be joining any such challenge. It is our belief that any such lawsuit would be frivolous and would have more to do with politics than the law,” noted a statement from McDaniel spokesman Aaron Sadler.
The letter from the legislators to McDaniel asked the following six questions:
• Does the Health Care Reform Legislation passed by the US House of Representatives (HR 3590) violate the US Constitution?;
• Does the HR 3590 violate the Tenth Amendment and thereby infringe on the sovereignty of the state of Arkansas?;
• Can the federal government purportedly acting under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution mandate citizens of the state of Arkansas to procure and carry health insurance coverage and then fine or tax them in the event they do not comply?;
• Is this mandate by the federal government not in violation of the Ninth Amendment to this US Constitution denying or disparaging other rights retained by the people?;
• Is there anything in the Arkansas law that precludes you, as Attorney General, from working with the other states that have indicated that they will file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Legislation?; and,
• Will your office coordinate and consult with these states to make certain that all legal objections to a law that is sure to cost taxpayers a lot of money are raised on behalf of the people of Arkansas?
Sadler said McDaniel is out of state and unavailable for comment, but said the “request for an opinion will be processed and handled in the normal manner.”
Also, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, and a candidate in the U.S. Senate race, said Tuesday he will send a letter to McDaniel asking Arkansas to join other states gearing up to sue the federal government over the health care legislation. Boozman also signed a pledge to repeal the legislation and enact “reforms that lower health care costs without growing government ...”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee came out Tuesday attacking the Republicans calling for repeal or constitutional challenge of the health care legislation. The DSCC said Republicans will need to be careful opposing legislation that makes Medicare “more solvent,” expands prescription coverage and reduces overall health care costs. DSCC officials specifically targeted Ohioan Rob Portman, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio.
“Republicans in Washington want their Senate candidates to run on the repeal of health care reform, and nearly all of them are succumbing to the pressure from the establishment,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz said in a statement. “We believe that every Republican should be clear on if they would support the repeal of health care reform if elected to the Senate. If Rob Portman is going to look voters in the eye and pledge to repeal health care reform which will have afforded coverage to 1.4 million Ohioans, eliminated the doughnut hole for seniors, offered tax credits to small businesses, lowered the deficit, and ended appalling insurance practices — then good luck to him.”