Monday, March 22, 2010

Legislative Leaders Call for Legal Action Against Federal Health Care Reform

Honorable Drew Edmondson
Oklahoma Attorney General
313 N.E. 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Dear General Edmondson,

As you know, the United States House of Representatives met yesterday in a rare Sunday session. By a count of 219-212, the House passed the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, frequently referred to as “Obamacare.” No members of Oklahoma's delegation supported the legislation. As you also may know, we have raised constitutionality questions about this measure for some time. We have outlined those concerns in Senate Joint Resolution 64, which passed the Oklahoma State Senate on February 24 and is pending in the House. Senator Orrin Hatch, a distinguished lawyer and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee has expressed similar concerns as published in the Wall Street Journal on January 2, 2010. A group of Republican Attorneys General have also stated they believe this bill is outside the scope of the enumerated powers granted to Congress by the Constitution.

As we have pointed out numerous times over the preceding months, this legislation will burden our state budget with tens of millions of dollars in new, unfunded health care mandates – money that Oklahoma simply doesn’t have. If the measure becomes law, it will wreck Oklahoma’s already fragile state budget and place undue economic hardships on the people and businesses of our great state.

Some of the provisions of the bill that are likely unconstitutional include: requiring ALL Americans to purchase health insurance and fining or jailing them if they don’t; special arrangements for states contained in the reconciled version of the legislation (e.g., Louisiana and Florida) are inconsistent with the protections afforded by the Constitution against arbitrary legislation; and the requirement that states establish benefit exchanges runs counter to constitutional limitations that forbid the federal government from commandeering any branch of state government to administer a federal program.

As Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, you are in a unique position to seek redress against the federal government. We urge you and your staff to immediately begin preparations to file suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of our state to challenge the constitutionality of yesterday’s enactment.

We had hoped to send a joint resolution signed by the Governor to formally present this request. However, the actions of Congress yesterday require a more timely approach. The people of our state do not want it. The taxpayers of our state cannot afford it. We urge you to act quickly to defend Oklahoma against the efforts by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid to burden our state (indeed, our entire nation) with their partisan plan for government-run health care.


Glenn Coffee Chris Benge
President Pro Tempore Speaker
Oklahoma State Senate Oklahoma House of Representatives
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