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Kansas AG requests to join health care lawsuit

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [official website] sent a letter [text] on Wednesday to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi [official website] requesting that Florida add Kansas as an additional party plaintiff to its lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST news archive] challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted health care reform law [HR 3590 text; JURIST news archive]. Expressing his desire to challenge the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Schmidt wrote:

The Act's mandate that all citizens and legal residents of the United States maintain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty (the individual mandate) is an unprecedented attempt to expand federal power that would encroach on the sovereignty of the State of Kansas and on the rights of our citizens. Our belief is that this expansion of federal power exceeds the authority granted to the federal government by the United States Constitution.
In requesting that Kansas be joined, Schmidt fulfilled a campaign promise he made during the general election. Schmidt took office on Monday. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] denied a motion to dismiss [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], allowing the lawsuit to continue through the courts.

Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the minimum coverage provision of the law is unconstitutional. Also in December, federal judges in Virginia and New Jersey [JURIST reports] dismissed lawsuits challenging the health care law's constitutionality. In November, the US Supreme Court [official website, JURIST news archive] declined to hear [JURIST report] the first preliminary challenge to the law. In October, a federal judge in Michigan ruled [order, PDF; JURIST report] that the law is constitutional under the Commerce Clause [text] as it addresses the economic effects of health care decisions, and that it does not represent an unconstitutional direct tax. Florida's lawsuit, filed in March and joined by 20 states [JURIST reports] and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website; JURIST report], seeks injunctive and declaratory relief against what it alleges are violations of Article I and the Tenth Amendment [texts] of the Constitution, committed by levying a tax without regard to census data, property or profession, and for invading the sovereignty of the states.

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