Colorado attorney general joins lawsuit challenging health care reforms

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Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced Monday he will join a lawsuit with at least a dozen other state attorneys challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health care legislation, which President Barack Obama signed into law earlier today.

Suthers, a Republican, joins the attorneys general from Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington, Utah, South Dakota, Florida, Idaho, Michigan and South Carolina in the lawsuit, according to Mike Saccone, Suthers’ communications director. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is considering joining the lawsuit but as of now, has not made a decision in that regard, according to a press release.

What Suthers and the other attorneys are challenging is the individual health care mandate requiring  citizens to purchase health insurance.

“The United State Constitution enshrines a form of limited government to protect the rights of the states under a system of federalism and to protect the individual freedom of American citizens. The individual mandate to purchase insurance or suffer economic sanction violates constitutional principles and lacks constitutional authority,” Suthers said in a press release. “The Constitution gives Congress the enumerated powers to regulate those engaged in interstate commerce. It does not give the Congress the power to compel a citizen, who would otherwise choose to be inactive in the marketplace, to purchase a product or service and thereby become subject to congressional regulation. Such an expansion of the current understanding of the Commerce Clause would leave no private sphere of individual commercial decision making beyond the reach of the federal government. It would render the 10th Amendment meaningless.”

Governor Bill Ritter criticized Suthers’ decision, expressing confidence that the reforms are constitutional and praising the new legislation. In a press release, his office said the new reforms would provide insurance to 300,000 previously uninsured Coloradoans.

“Colorado and all states need national reform to ensure that people with pre-existing illnesses do not lose coverage or are denied coverage. We need national reform to help drive down costs, and we need national reform to stop annual double-digit insurance premium increases that are devastating small businesses and families alike,” the governor said.

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