Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s office just released a statement about Attorney General Chris Koster’s amicus brief arguing the individual mandate in the federal health care bill is unconstitutional.
In short, Kinder - a Republican who is likely to run for governor next year - panned Koster’s argument that the mandate could be detached from the rest of bill. And he also said Koster should have actually joined the lawsuit in question, as opposed to providing comments.
Here’s part of Kinder’s statement:
“AG Koster fails to recognize what Judge Vinson clearly articulated and ruled, which is that the individual mandate is not severable from the Health Care Act and therefore the entire law is unconstitutional. AG Koster’s amicus brief in the Florida case, while welcome, is a day late and a dollar short. It does not adequately defend the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act or respond to the resolution passed by the Missouri General Assembly.
With the exception of AG Koster now agreeing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, we are otherwise disappointed in AG Koster’s course of action. His filing of an amicus brief in the Appellate Court hearing the Florida case does not effectively advocate for the interests of Missouri citizens. I continue to urge AG Koster to join the lawsuit that I and other Missouri citizens have filed in federal court in Missouri. This case is the only case in the nation specifically defending the Health Care Freedom Act and rights of Missourians.
It is crucial that leaders of our state are willing to get in the battle for Missourians’ constitutional rights and freedoms, and not just comment from the sidelines.”
Attorney General Chris Koster’s office filed an amicus brief in a case challenging the individual mandate of the federal health care law.
The upshot of the brief is this: Koster’s office argues the mandate mandating people to buy certain types of health insurance violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The breif adds those provisions can be detached from the underlying bill.
Here’s the Democratic official’s explanation of the brief, which is on one of the first pages of the PDF linked at the bottom of this post. The letter is addressed to House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter:
Dear President Pro Tem Mayer & Speaker Tilley:
Attached is a copy of the state of Missouri’s amicus brief filed this morning, Monday, April 11, in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in the matter State of Florida, et al., v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al.
On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) was signed into law. Among its numerous provisions, the ACA mandates that an applicable individual shall maintain “minimum essential [healthcare] coverage” or pay a penalty. 26 U.S.C. § 5000A.
On August 3, 2010, the people of the state of Missouri overwhelmingly passed, by referendum, “Proposition C.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 1.330. Proposition C was passed in response to the ACA and prohibits compelling “any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.” Id. § 1.330.1.
The ACA and Missouri state law are, therefore, in conflict.
On January 11, 2011, the Missouri House of Representatives adopted by a vote of 115 to 46 House Resolution No. 39, calling on the Office of the Missouri Attorney General to “[challenge] the constitutionality and validity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…and to aggressively defend the validity of Proposition C…” On January 19, 2011, the Missouri Senate adopted by voice vote Senate Resolution No. 27, the language of which is nearly identical to House Resolution No. 39.
This office is sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state of Missouri, of which Proposition C is unquestionably a part. The resolutions passed by the General Assembly are non-binding on this office, but they are impactful, as they give voice to the political will of Missourians.
This office has analyzed the constitutional questions posed by the ACA, and has submitted an amicus brief in the 11th Circuit that focuses on two issues:
1. Whether forcing individuals, who are not actors in interstate commerce and who have not chosen to enter the stream of commerce, to obtain health insurance is within the enumerated authority of Congress under the Commerce Clause.
2. Whether the provisions of the ACA which are capable of operating independently in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress should be severed.
Although these are complex questions on which many scholars, judges, and interested parties sincerely disagree, it is the opinion of this office that the Congress reached beyond current Commerce Clause precedent when it regulated that individuals maintain “minimum essential [healthcare] coverage” or pay a penalty. Therefore, it follows that the federal courts, in reviewing this aspect of the law, must either expand Congress’ Commerce Clause authority, justify the provision on alternate constitutional grounds, or strike down the individual mandate.
It is also the legal view of this office that the individual mandate is severable from the ACA and that those provisions of the bill not clearly dependant upon the mandate may stand.
Our argument against the expansion of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority is emphatically not based on any opposition to the expansion of health coverage for uninsured Americans. To the contrary, I favor the expansion of health coverage.
Nonetheless, the Attorney General’s highest duty is to the Constitution and to the law, and not to a political outcome. In preparing this brief, we have tried our best to serve that duty.
I hope you will take the time to read it.
Jo Mannies at the St. Louis Beacon writes Monday about a letter sent by three GOP officials to Attorney General Chris Koster.
The subject? The federal health care bill:
The three top Republicans in Jefferson City — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Speaker Steve Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer — are once again pressuring Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, to take action regarding the federal health insurance changes that are gradually going into effect.
Those changes, approved by Congress, were signed by President Barack Obama a year ago this Wednesday.
The Republican trio (from left, Mayer, Tilley and Kinder) announced today that they signed a letter sent to Koster late last week that underscored their frustration with the attorney general (who switched parties in 2007) and his apparent refusal, so far, to join any of the lawsuits challenging the federal law, which began going into effect Jan. 1.
“The time for artful dodging is over,” the trio wrote, referring to Koster’s reluctance to even publicly discuss the matter.
Missouri Republicans are angling to ensnare Attorney General Chris Koster in a lawsuit against federal health care legislation.
That’s the crux of Chris Blank’s Associated Press Monday analysis:
The Missouri Republicans are keeping up pressure over the federal health care law and seeking to draw the state’s Democratic attorney general into the discussion about the overhaul approved last year by Congress.
There were public urgings directed at the attorney general’s office last year, and over the last month, there have been several attempts to spur action.
In mid-January, the Republican-controlled state House approved a resolution that called on Attorney General Chris Koster to challenge the federal health care law or join a lawsuit that already has been filed against the law. The House resolution, which gained support from some Democrats, also urged the attorney general’s office to defend a law approved by voters this past November that bars the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it.