Oklahoma Attorney General-elect Will File Lawsuit Against
Federal Health Care Reform Bill
Attorney General-elect Scott Pruitt today announced the state of Oklahoma will file an independent lawsuit against the federal government to challenge the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s federal health care reform law in the coming weeks.
Speaking about the need to file independently, Pruitt said, “There is great clarity for me on the necessary and urgent need to exercise my responsibility to defend Oklahoma’s Constitution against a federal government and president that have gone too far in their overreach of power and authority.”
Governor-elect Mary Fallin, who had a representative from her office in attendance to the press announcement, provided the following statement, “President Obama's health care plan is bad for our economy, bad for our health and bad for our states, which must shoulder the burden of hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates. It's also an unconstitutional Washington power-grab that seeks to force our citizens to buy certain products. The people of Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly to oppose that power-grab and to reject policies that replace individual choice with the choices of Washington bureaucrats. I am happy to join our new attorney general in announcing that Oklahoma is challenging the federal health care law in court, standing up to Washington and defending our Constitution and the rights of our citizens.”
Pruitt continued that because Oklahomans passed State Question 756, the Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment, which amended the state Constitution to say that Oklahomans cannot be forced to purchase insurance, those two laws cannot coexist. Preemption does not apply when a federal law is deemed unconstitutional.
As such, he commented on his obligation to defend the Oklahoma law, “The most logical way to defend our state Constitution is in an Oklahoma federal court not in another state,” said Pruitt.
Pruitt expressed his sole desire in filing the lawsuit was to successfully defeat the requirement of the federal health care act that will force Oklahomans to purchase a product or face fines and penalties by the federal government. In legal terms, this is known as the individual mandate, which Pruitt believes to be unconstitutional.
The Attorney General-elect also explained that Oklahoma has the advantage of learning from the arguments the federal government put forth in the legal proceedings with Virginia and Florida, which will allow Oklahoma to introduce new and strengthened arguments to counter those.
Additionally, by filing in Oklahoma, the state will add another circuit of the federal court system considering arguments on the constitutionality of the act. This enhances the reasons for the Supreme Court to expedite a hearing of the issue.
Pruitt stated the lawsuit will be handled by staff internal to the Attorney General’s office, and no outside counsel will be retained.
Pruitt closed by saying, “I deeply respect the efforts of General Bondi, and the other Attorneys General involved in the Florida litigation, as well as the efforts of General Cuccinelli in Virginia. I am confident with our collective efforts we will prevail.”