Masto: Joining suit could cost state
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said Tuesday an analysis by her staff shows a lawsuit challenging the recently passed federal health care act would have little chance of success.
In a four-page letter, she advised Gov. Jim Gibbons the legislation “appears to be supported by Congress’ authority under the Commerce and Spending clauses” of the U.S. Constitution.
“Although the above analysis is not exhaustive, it appears that other legal challenges to the act also fall victim to Congress’ broad powers,” the letter states.
“In my professional judgment, joining the litigation filed by 14 other states, as you have suggested, is not warranted by existing law at this time,” Masto wrote.
She also pointed out that joining the lawsuit would cost the state a significant amount of money. By not joining the suit, she said, “Nevada can ride for free at this time by allowing other states to foot the bill.”
Gibbons said he is considering his options to move forward without the attorney general.
“The Reid/Obama nationalized healthcare plan will bankrupt Medicaid in Nevada and will force us to make huge cuts to education and public safety,” he said. “This type of federal intrusion into our lives and our state must be stopped.”
He said “numerous reputable attorneys” have called his office volunteering to represent the state without charge.
Nevada is one of two states with a governor meeting resistance in challenging the federal health care legislation from an attorney general from a rival party.
Both Gibbons, a Republican, and Masto, a Democrat, are up for re-election.
In Arizona, Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, also is declining to sue on his state’s behalf. The move angered Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who asked the GOP-controlled Legislature for authority to go around Goddard and file suit.
On Tuesday, Arizona House and Senate committees approved Brewer’s request, sending the measures to final votes in both chambers.
Goddard is running for governor, while Brewer is facing a Republican primary challenge from the right, and the issue has emerged as an early battle in the campaign for governor.
Elsewhere, battles have emerged among top state leaders, with distinct political overtones:
• In Colorado, Washington and Wisconsin, Republican attorneys general have sued or tried to sue despite opposition from Democratic governors.
• In Kansas and Kentucky, Republicans lawmakers have demanded that their states sue; the Republican lieutenant governor in Missouri has made a similar request.
• In Georgia, the Democratic attorney general is facing an impeachment resolution after he refused the Republican governor’s request to sue. Democratic lawyers in Minnesota and Mississippi hadn’t yet decided whether to honor lawsuit requests from Republican governors.
Republicans pushing lawsuits claim that the health care overhaul, signed last week by President Barack Obama, is unconstitutional because it requires people to buy insurance from a private contractor, and claim it eviscerates states’ rights.
Some lawsuit opponents argue that states don’t have standing to sue because the law doesn’t require anything of state governments. Rather, the mandate to buy insurance is levied on taxpayers.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.