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GOP State Leaders Vow To Fight Health-Care Legislation

Publication Date: 
March 23, 2010
The Washington Post
Peter Slevin and Rosalind S. Helderman

Professor Michael McConnell, a leading scholar in constitutional law, is quoted in The Washington Post on state sovereignty with respect to health care legislation. Peter Slevin and Rosalind S. Helderman filed this story:

As President Obama celebrated his health-care victory, Republican leaders in several states vowed Monday to challenge the landmark legislation in court, arguing that the new federal rules are unconstitutional violations of state sovereignty and individual liberty.

Scholars contend the merit of such claims is unproven at best, given constitutional provisions and legal precedents that grant wide latitude to Congress to regulate national affairs. But the declarations foretell a period of court battles and statehouse resistance after months of opposition to the legislation.


Michael McConnell, a conservative legal scholar at Stanford University, agreed.

"If the federal bill is constitutional, then the state laws will be of no legal effect. If the federal bill is unconstitutional, then the state measures will be unnecessary," said McConnell, a former federal appellate judge who said he has some procedural "doubts" about how the legislation was passed.

McConnell says he thinks the state actions on sovereignty are more relevant in political terms than legal ones. He said Republican lawmakers "are doing something which has a very old history, which is using state legislatures as a means of arousing the citizenry to opposition to what they regard as oppressive legislation."