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Pelosi Tactic For Health-Care Vote Would Raise Legal Questions

Publication Date: 
March 18, 2010
Business Week
Greg Stohr

Professor Michael McConnell, an expert on constitutional law, is quoted on the constitutionality of using "deem and pass" to pass the health care reform bill in Congress. Greg Stohr of Business Week reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be creating new grounds for a court challenge to the proposed U.S. health-care overhaul as she considers using a mechanism that would avoid a vote on the full legislation.

Pelosi said this week she might use a parliamentary technique that would “deem” House members to have passed the Senate’s health-care plan by voting for a more politically palatable package of changes.


Michael W. McConnell, a Stanford law professor and former federal appeals court judge, disagreed, writing this week in the Wall Street Journal that the approach is unconstitutional.

Whether any court would reach that conclusion is a closer call, McConnell said in an e-mail. He said the 2007 appeals court’s conclusion that judges should defer to lawmakers on the issue was in tension with an earlier Supreme Court ruling.

There are “conflicting lines of authority,” McConnell said.