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Oklahoma AG asks court to permit health care law challenge

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt [official website] on Friday filed a motion [text, PDF; press release] asking the US District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma [official website] to lift a stay on the state's challenge to the federal health care law, despite last month's US Supreme Court [official website] ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the act is constitutional. Oklahoma filed its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST news archive] last year, but the US district court stayed the case pending the Supreme Court's ruling. Pruitt said that the Supreme Court's ruling that the law is not valid under the Commerce Clause but is valid under the Taxing Clause of the US Constitution [text] actually raises more constitutional questions about the law, such as the validity of the individual mandate as a revenue-raising tax. Pruitt and other attorneys are also contemplating how the Supreme Court's ruling affects an amendment to Oklahoma's constitution [text] that prohibits any government from "mandating" that Oklahomans purchase health care. The federal government has asked that the district court dismiss Oklahoma's lawsuit in light of the Supreme Court's decision.

The Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the PPACA was highly anticipated by both politicians and the general public, and reactions to the ruling have been mixed [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, Nebraska and six other states announced that they will continue to pursue lawsuits [JURIST report] challenging the act's mandate that employer-provided health insurance plans include coverage for contraception. US President Barack Obama held a press conference [video; transcript text] following the decision praising the court for its ruling. A week before the ruling was announced, a group of news organizations asked the Supreme Court to allow audio and video recording of the announcement of the decision [JURIST report] because of the high amount of public interest in the ruling. The lawsuit challenging the legislation [JURIST report] that was heard before the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states and additional organizations challenging both the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and Medicaid expansion included in the law.

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