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Idaho First To Sign Law Against Health Care Reform

Publication Date: 
March 18, 2010
Source: 
MSNBC
Author: 
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

Professor David Freeman Engstrom talked to the Associated Press about constitutional conflicts arising from state challenges to federal health care reform legislation. Reporter John Miller filed this story:

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho is leading the charge in a states-rights push to defeat a proposal in Congress that would require people to buy health insurance, a key piece of reforms being pushed by President Barack Obama.

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter used a ceremony Wednesday afternoon to become the first governor to sign into law a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government over any such insurance mandates.

There's similar legislation pending in 37 other states, a point Otter stressed when asked if the bill he signed can succeed, given constitutional law experts are already saying federal laws would supersede those of states in a U.S. District Court fight.

...

Still, David Freeman Engstrom, a constitutional law expert at Stanford University Law School, said all these measures face significant legal hurdles. Freeman said there is the question of whether a state has standing to bring the lawsuit, or if that role is better served by an individual who could show they were harmed by the mandate to buy health insurance.

Idaho's law faces an even bigger challenge, he said, by setting up a direct conflict with the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution.

"That language is clear that federal law is supreme over state law," said Freeman. "So it really doesn't matter what a state legislature says on this."