Dear Attorney General Van Hollen:Dude, harsh.
I have received your request for permission to file an action to contest national health insurance reform. I am denying that request. This law is an act of Congress, signed by the President of the United States. The lawsuit you suggest is a frivolous and political attempt to thwart the actions of Congress and the law of the country.
This may not be one of them, but presidents have signed plenty of unconstitutional acts of Congress before.
While the Republican J.B. Van Hollen by all appearances is pandering, any right-wing political warmth enveloping him as a result of his request to the governor is just convenient, delicious gravy. Because underneath is a perfectly defensible legal decision to go after the constitutionality of the so-called individual mandate.
In his official role, AG Van Hollen has a duty to assess federal legislation and its potential effect on Wisconsin sovereignty. I don't expect the present challenge to be successful, but far, far brighter bulbs than I have found its premises to be strongly compelling.
[By the way, stop calling them "Tenthers." The attempt to equate reasonable attention to the language of the Constitution with some crazy lawyer in California's ravings is frankly offensive. Also, conjuring the strains of Ashokan Farewell isn't much help either.]
At a listening session in hostile territory recently (Washington or Waukesha County, I forget which), U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who supported the federal bill, was challenged on this very point.
Feingold replied that he couldn't say with any assuredness whether the individual mandate was constitutional or not, and suggested that it was the role of the courts to make that determination.
And not just as a general principle, but in this case.
Moreover, the courts cannot undertake to reach that determination until somebody asks them to, another point Feingold stressed in his response to the listening session queries.
Senator Feingold likely won't join Florida Attorney General Bob McCollum's lawsuit,* but I bet he doesn't find the question entirely without serious merit and purely political.
* As opposed to the one he joined seeking the extension of individual Second Amendment guarantees to the citizens of Wisconsin.