Wisconsin Attorney General Seeks Approval to Join Federal Suit Against Health Care ActDoyle Says No, Now up to Legislature

MacIver News Service – Updated 11:40pm  Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen is seeking authority to join the federal lawsuit to block implementation of some aspects of the recently signed health care reform law.

“Based on my preliminary review of the Act, I have concluded that a sufficient legal basis exists to contest the individual mandate to carry health insurance or pay a penalty under the Act.” Van Hollen (R) wrote in a letter to Governor Jim Doyle (D), Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Wausau), Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville) and the minority leaders of the legislature.

In Wisconsin, the Attorney General must receive approval from the Governor or one house of the legislature in order to join a suit against the federal government.

He’ll need to get the approval from the legislature, because on Thursday afternoon, Governor Doyle denied Van Hollen’s request.

“As the state’s lawyer, I take very seriously my duty to protect our State’s sovereignty,” Van Hollen wrote. “Although several states have initiated legal action and there are likely to be more challenges to the Act made by other states and individual citizens, I believe that Wisconsin must act to protect its sovereign interests and the interests of its citizens of this State by bringing an action to contest the constitutionality of the Act.”

A bipartisan group of 13 attorneys general filed suit on Tuesday, claiming the sweeping reforms violate state government rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. It was filed electronically with a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, according to the office of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

States joining the suit include: Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, South Carolina, and South Dakota. That suit contends: “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.”

See more in our exclusive one-on-on video with Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen: