Media Center

Wisconsin Department Of Justice Statement On Possible Legal Actions Relating To Passage Of Federal Health Care Legislation


MADISON - Special Assistant Attorney General For Public Affairs and Policy Kevin St. John issued the following statement responding to inquiries to the Department of Justice as to whether Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen intends to bring legal action to challenge federal health care legislation that is expected to be signed into law by President Obama:  


Attorney General Van Hollen has been asked whether he intends to bring a legal action in court challenging the health care bill that passed the House of Representatives last night.   Three things must occur before the Attorney General could do so. 


First, the President must sign the health care overhaul into law.   


Second, Governor Doyle or either house of the state legislature must authorize the Attorney General to bring or join such a legal action.  Absent such authorization, he is prevented from doing so by state law.   


Third, should the Governor or either house of the legislature make such an authorization, Attorney General Van Hollen must independently conclude that claims have a sufficient legal basis.  He and his staff are reviewing the legal merits of the underlying claims and the scope of possible remedies.  They have also been in contact with other state attorneys general offices contemplating legal action.  


Like many Americans, Attorney General Van Hollen is disappointed with the process and much of the policy that underlies the House of Representative's adoption of a bill that includes the Cornhusker kickback, federal funding for abortion, special treatment for special interests, and a variety of other objectionable measures some of which are also contained in the reconciliation measure that also passed the House last night and is expected to be addressed by the Senate as soon as this week.  


But the decision to adopt these measures has been made by elected members of Congress.  The role of the state attorneys general and the courts is not to veto those policy choices made by elected officials that would be decidedly undemocratic but to appropriately examine, in the context of a case, whether the law is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.  Even if specific provisions of the health care law are held to be unconstitutional, a court may determine that the rest of this massive health care overhaul is constitutional and remains in effect.