OLYMPIA – The U.S. Department of Justice today filed its motion to dismiss the constitutional challenge to the federal health care act brought by Washington and 19 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and persons affected by the individual mandate.
Attorney General Rob McKenna issued the following statement in response:
“The Justice Department’s motion today demonstrates that the federal government views this lawsuit as a serious threat. Nothing in this motion changes the states’ view that we will prevail.
This lawsuit challenges the individual mandate as a direct tax or penalty that violates the U.S. Constitution. We further charge that the federal government is jeopardizing state sovereignty with this unprecedented expansion of federal powers, putting tremendous pressure on already strained state budgets and forcing states to either raise taxes or cut other vital programs to meet these added demands.
While we all agree that people should have access to affordable, quality health care, health care reform is too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation and the states plan to pursue this litigation as far as necessary to obtain relief for our citizens and our states.”
McKenna joined 12 other state plaintiffs in filing this lawsuit on March 23, 2010. The suit was amended on May 14, 2010, to add seven additional states and the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as two individual plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges that the new law infringes upon the constitutional rights of individuals by mandating all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage or pay a tax penalty. By imposing such a mandate, the law exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution. Additionally, the tax penalty required under the law constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.
The lawsuit further claims the health care reform law infringes on the sovereignty of the states and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution by imposing onerous new operating rules that Washington must follow as well as requiring the state to spend billions of additional dollars without providing funds or resources to meet the state's cost of implementing the law.
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Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725