South Carolina AG Reveals Political Nature Of Lawsuit Against Health Reform

I’ve maintained that the Attorneys General and now the Governors who are suing the federal government over the constitutionality of health care reform are doing so in their capacity as politicians, not lawyers or lawmakers. At least 4 of the AGs that have signed on to Bill McCollum’s case in Florida are running for higher office (including McCollum himself) and the rest are up for re-election. Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) and Jane Brewer (R-AZ), who joined the lawsuit over the objections of their attorneys general, are running for re-election in 2010 and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) — who also brushed aside his AG’s claim that the law is in fact constitutional — is likely running for President.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit itself doesn’t contain any references to past Supreme Court decisions or legal precedent that explain where the Court has agreed with their interpretation of the constitution. The plaintiffs regularly use buzz words like “unprecedented encroachment on the liberty,” “unfunded mandate” to condemn reform and argue that the law will be enforced by 16,000 IRS agents and will levy “any kind of amount of money” in new taxes.

It smells like a frivolous political stunt and now we have even more proof that it is. Ben Smith writes, “The campaign of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, is circulating this almost gothic video touting his lawsuit against health care legislation…..Which may, er, open the suits to the charge of playing politics.” Watch it:

But just because the lawsuit is frivolous doesn’t mean that it still can’t complicate the implementation process. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out in a new report, “efforts to nullify the individual mandate could weaken political support for health reform and make successful implementation at both the state and federal levels more difficult to achieve. States could delay changing state laws or laying the groundwork necessary to implement various reforms until lawsuits resolving the legality of the nullifications measures are decided.” As a New York Times article on nullification efforts noted, “the measures could create legal collisions that would be both expensive and cause delays to health care changes, and could be a rallying point for opponents in the increasingly tense debate.”