One of the loudest voices advocating the position that the new health care law is unconstitutional is Virginia’s Republican Attorney General — and Tea Party loyalist — Ken Cuccinelli. Even conservative legal scholars are saying that their claims have no basis in the law and are nothing but political theater.
Facing increasing scrutiny and criticism, Cuccinelli released a statement claiming that this frivolous lawsuit is costing the taxpayers of Virginia only $350, which is the fee for filing in federal court:
There has been no additional cost above this amount, as the litigation is being handled entirely by the attorney general’s staff. The office also does not expect much outside cost, as outside counsel has not been retained. Additionally, since the case is centered around a purely legal constitutional argument, the office anticipates no material costs for things such as discovery, witnesses, etc.
Last night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D) about Cuccinelli’s claims. Baker said that he has no doubt there would be additional significant costs associated with staff time and resources, which is a major part of the reason why he refused Gov. Sonny Perdue’s (R) request to also sue the federal government:
BAKER: It’s impossible to have a lawsuit where there are no inherent costs. Every time you are pulling employees away from their appointed duties to file a lawsuit and to engage in this counter-activity, there’s going to be cost.
Lawyers don’t work for free, not even lawyers who work in house. So I’m not aware of any way that a lawsuit can be filed, even if we do it in house, where it doesn’t cost the taxpayer some money.
We could have our lawyers off engaged in other areas that are going to be critical to the budget of this state, to talk about teachers and education. Any of those areas where we could have our lawyers applied would be a better use of the employees and the staff. But I’m not aware of any way that you can do this without there being some inherent cost.
Republican state legislators are furious at Baker for trying to responsibly look after taxpayer money and have threatened to impeach him. Watch Maddow’s interview with Baker:
In Oregon, Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and Attorney General John Kroger (D) have bucked the trend of state officials trying to defy the federal government on health care reform and have promised to “take legal action to defend the constitutionality” of the law. “I’m proud to have Oregon stand up in court and defend this legislation, which will extend health care to thousands of Oregonians and millions of uninsured Americans,” Kulongoski said.