Ky. Republican state lawmakers sign brief in support of challenge to Affordable Care Act

02/13/2012 08:46 AM

Most of Kentucky’s Republican state legislators signed onto a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that supports the 27 states challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act that Congress passed in 2010.

Attorneys for the conservative free-market think tank the Cato Institute, based out of Washington, D.C., filed the brief, which includes signatures from more than 300 state legislators across the country from states whose attorneys general have not sued to challenge the law.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, hasn’t signed onto the lawsuit — and hasn’t joined states that have signed on in support of the law. The case is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fifty-nine Kentucky lawmakers — but no Democrats — are backing the brief. That includes all 22 Republican senators and the lone independent, Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah, as well as 36 of the 40 state House Republicans. (Those not signing include Reps. Julie Raque Adams and Mike Nemes of Louisville, Jim Stewart of Flat Lick and Jeff Hoover, the House GOP floor leader from Jamestown.) View those signing: Signatories_to_brief.doc

The brief argues that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional by requiring Americans to have health insurance. That provision is central to enforcing another provision that bars insurance companies from dropping or refusing coverage to people with chronic, expensive conditions.

“The individual mandate exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under existing doctrine,” the brief says. “The constitution does not permit Congress to conscript citizens into economic transactions to remedy the admitted shortcomings—which the government usually terms ‘necessities’ — of a hastily assembled piece of legislation.”

Read the brief here: HHS_vs_Florida_Amicus_Brief.doc

That will be a key issue the U.S. Supreme Court must decide after U.S. Appeals courts have split over that question.

Rep. Tim Moore, an Elizabethtown Republican, said he understood the sentiment behind requiring people to have health insurance and how it is linked to making sure insurance companies can’t drop chronically ill patients.

“But no matter how good this idea is, it’s not constitutional,” Moore said.

It was Moore who gathered signatures of the other lawmakers in Kentucky. For the last three years, he has sponsored legislation (this year it is H.B. 339) that would allow the state government to bow out of having to provide insurance to all its workers and would direct the attorney general to legally challenge a federal law that says otherwise.)

The brief goes on to argue that while the federal government can regulate activities, for instance steelmaking or the keeping of business records, it is an overreach of power to regulate “inactivity” — or force someone to do something, such as to purchase and maintain health insurance.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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