Florida's Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum formally announced today that he'll challenge the constitutionality of the new health care bill to be signed into law by President Obama.
The lawsuit would be joined by several other states, including South Carolina, Utah, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Washington.
The rub: The plan requires most Americans to carry health insurance or face a fine. "This is a tax or a penalty on just living. And that's unconstitutional," McCollum said in a news conference this morning. "There is no provision in the Constitution of the United States giving Congress the power to do that. So it's the absence of authority that is unconstitutional."
"No politics involved with this whatsoever," he said. "This bill is wrong."
McCollum, a former congressman, said a second problem is that is "manipulates" the states to get them to do things the federal government cannot do itself and would require the use of state money to cover an expansion of Medicaid.
Some legal scholars doubt the lawsuit would stand scrutiny. Georgetown Law professor Randy E. Barnett wrote in the Washington Post, "While such provisions may have a political impact, none is likely to have any effect on the legislation's constitutionality. Under the 10th Amendment, if Congress enacts a law pursuant to one of the "powers . . . delegated to the United States by the Constitution," then that law is supreme, and nothing a state can do changes this. Any state power to "nullify" unconstitutional federal laws has long been rejected."
McCollum is running for governor but denied politics were driving his actions. "This is a constitutional duty I have ... to protect the citizens of this state, to protect an unconstitutional invasion of the state, if you will, by the federal government."