(COLUMBUS, Ohio) - Ohio will not join other state lawsuits filed to prevent implementation of H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Attorney General Richard Cordray announced today.
"Based on my review of Ohio law and H.R. 3590, and my experience with federal constitutional law, I do not believe that the lawsuits filed against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have any legal merit whatsoever," Cordray said. "As a result, I believe it would be a waste of taxpayer resources for Ohio to join any such lawsuit, and we will not be doing so."
Cordray said he drew upon his experience as an appellate lawyer and law professor to research the request and make his decision. "I had the good fortune to clerk for two United States Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. These justices - appointed by Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, respectively - each taught me to review constitutional challenges to federal laws with great care, always keeping in mind the proper balance of power between the states and Congress within our federalist system. In turn, I tried to convey this same respect for federalism to my students during 13 years of teaching constitutional law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. I have also encountered such issues in some of the seven cases I have had the privilege of arguing to the United States Supreme Court."
Cordray addressed the two constitutional claims raised in the lawsuits:
Commerce Clause: "For 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has read the Commerce Clause broadly to authorize Congress to address our most pressing national economic concerns. In fact, during George Washington's first term as President, under the Second Militia Act of 1792, Congress explicitly required many Americans to make an economic purchase: of a gun, ammunition, gunpowder and a knapsack to be properly prepared for military service. In the health care law, the individual mandate is inextricably intertwined with the comprehensive economic approach that Congress adopted to fix the deep flaws in our current health insurance system, which affects one-sixth of the American economy."
Tenth Amendment: "For those who contend that the states alone can address insurance problems, the logic of their position is that we are condemned, forever, to an unsatisfactory 'patchwork quilt' of conflicting provisions and mixed results. This is precisely why our Founding Fathers rejected the anemic Articles of Confederation as inadequate, authorized Congress to legislate on matters of interstate commerce, and then made its laws supreme, notwithstanding any state laws to the contrary.
"Nobody can seriously argue that the health care industry operates only in 'intrastate' commerce, and the mandate provisions in this bill cannot be effectively disentangled from the comprehensive economic approach that Congress adopted to fix the deep flaws in our current health insurance system.
"Critics of the new law argue that the Tenth Amendment does not permit Congress to require states to establish insurance exchanges. But the law does not require that; it provides the states with a choice, and if they decline, the federal government will take on that responsibility. Just as Medicaid is a voluntary federal-state program whose constitutionality has been upheld by the courts, the health care reform law is entirely consistent with the Tenth Amendment.
"In these difficult budget times, I do not believe in wasting taxpayer dollars to pursue political agendas through symbolic lawsuits, which only deplete our limited resources, as well as those of our courts. Instead, the Ohio Attorney General's office will continue to focus on our efforts to protect the financial security of Ohio families by holding Wall Street accountable and helping to level Ohio's economic playing field."
Cordray shared his response with Ohio's Republican congressional delegation and state senate caucus who wrote to him last week urging him to join the federal lawsuits against H.R. 3590. To read the response in full, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/HealthCareResponses. To read the letters Cordray received from each group, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/HealthCareLetters.
Kim Kowalski: (614) 728-9692
cell: (614) 893-6018
Holly Hollingsworth: (614) 644-0508
cell: (614) 353-7576