Does John Suthers speak for you?

Just hours after Congress passed health insurance reform, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers foolishly joined a partisan lawsuit to block it. He joined 11 other attorneys general, 10 of whom are Republicans, who are pledging to “take it to the Supreme Court” if necessary. The Denver Post says that Suthers’ lawsuit is “without merit,” and “looks politically motivated.” (Denver Post, 3/24/2010)

Suthers is using our tax dollars to sue the federal government in an effort to block health care reforms that offer huge benefits to the people of our state. What’s more, the overwhelming majority of legal experts say he is wasting money on a fool’s errand. Who is he representing?

We know Suthers isn’t representing the thousands of Colorado residents with pre-existing conditions who will be guaranteed coverage, or the small businesses who will receive tax credits and other assistance to help them afford coverage, or the hundreds of thousands who will receive improved Medicare benefits, or the rest of us–residents with health insurance who are now protected from arbitrary premium hikes and insurance cancellations if they get sick.

Does John Suthers speak for you?

If you don’t want Suthers to press this suit in your name, now is the time to speak out! We need Suthers to hear from thousands of people across the state: don’t sacrifice Colorado’s health for partisan politics. Please click on the link below to sign our petition.…

This reform will benefit nearly every family in Colorado. A congressional analysis found that this bill will provide this year:

   * Tax credits for small business to purchase health insurance for their employees.

   * Children can no longer be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

   * An end to lifetime limits and most annual limits on benefits: the lives of Americans no longer have a cost/benefit ratio.

   * A temporary high-risk insurance pool for Americans uninsured due to a pre-existing condition will be immediately established, and immediately begin saving lives.

   * Individual policyholders can no longer be dropped by their insurer if they get sick.

   * New health insurance plans must cover preventive care and immunizations without undue burdens on the insured.

   * Immediate lowering of prescription drug costs for seniors, the much-maligned “donut hole” begins to close.

   * Expanded coverage of dependent children through age 26.

   * A new appeals process for claims that puts patients first.

   * Real disclosure of how much of your premium dollar goes to “administrative costs” instead of health care.

And that’s just the beginning. Despite these benefits for the people of Colorado, John Suthers is putting partisan politics above good policy by trying to maintain the status quo of our broken health care system. We need him to hear from thousands of people across the state: don’t sacrifice Colorado’s health for partisan politics, and don’t waste taxpayer dollars on frivolous grandstands. As former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky wrote in a detailed memo this week (Colorado Independent 3/25/2010), Suthers’ lawsuit is seriously deficient from a legal perspective, and experts around the nation agree the effort has almost no chance of success.

Help us make sure Suthers understands that he does not represent the people of Colorado if he continues to pursue this suit. Please click on the link below to sign our petition, and then forward it to your friends.…

We’ll share it with Suthers, the media, and other elected officials. Thanks for standing up to defend a victory we have all fought so hard for.

18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pam Bennett says:

    He should be paying for his attack out of his own pocket or campaign committee.  

  2. Pam Bennett says:

    He should be paying for his attack out of his own pocket or campaign committee.  

  3. Earnest says: simply agree to have your name added to a lawsuit?  His office is not actively controlling the lawsuit, is it?  Not that I excuse his participation, but of all objections, use of tax dollars seems weak.

  4. Laughing Boy says:

    How would PN communicate without Photoshop?

  5. Tom Russell says:

    Former Justice Dubofksy, in a Bell Center email, said that the suit has little chance of success.  That means that it has some chance of success.  That’s enough to make it not frivolous, leaving aside the crucial point that the vote count in the USSC is probably already at least at 4.

    As a legal historian, I have been wondering what pundits said when at the time that the Schechter lawsuit challenging FDR’s NIRA was filed.  Likewise with U.S. v. Butler and the AAA.  Did all the blogger-analogues say “Clearly the Commerce clause supports FDR”?  Did they say “Obviously, the AAA will succeed because of the breadth of the taxing power”?

    Likewise with the tobacco litigation,  I know that when the tobacco litigation was filed–and the AGs joined in–most law professors thought that litigation had no chance of going anywhere.

    From what I can tell, our A.G. has just put his name on a pleading at this point.  He spent a little time on it, too, I am sure.  But the cost is quite small.

    I do agree, though, that the claims in the lawsuit filed in Florida regarding the cost imposed on the states are political posturing.  (But, I have enough humility to know that I may be wrong.)  

    And, efforts within the states to pass legislation or referenda against the supreme federal law are pure stupidity.

    I am not at all unhappy that Attorney General has joined in a challenge to elements of the constitutionality of a plan that penalizes Americans who choose not to buy the product of for-private health insurance companies.  

    Tom Russell

    Not a google monkey or a sock puppet nor a nom de blog–instead a real person with a first name and a last name and real email address

    • RedGreen says:

      of challenging Suthers’ action by pointing out just how darn good the outcomes of health care legislation will be? Not sure I see what that has to do with the legal viability of a constitutional challenge, but then, that’s why I’m asking a law professor …

      • Tom Russell says:

        First, my personal view is that the health care legislation is bad and commits us to exactly the wrong things.  However, I will leave that aside.

        Let’s assume the health care legislation is, as Martha Stewart would say, “a good thing.”

        If, by the time that the lawsuit reaches the USSC there are good results from the legislation, then I think that is likely to have an impact on the voting.  USSC results are often political first and then doctrinal.

        The hope, today, that the legislation will have good results should not be enough to stop the AGs from suing.  The good things about the legislation are overstated.  For instance, today in the NYT we see health insurance companies saying, “well, we do have to cover pre-existing conditions in children, but that’s only if we cover the children, and we’re not so sure that we have to–  certainly not before 2014.”  

        Like AG Suthers, I’m still stuck on penalizing someone with a tax if that person refuses to buy insurance.  That’s new territory constitutionally speaking, and politically it’s a hot potato.  

        Disregard anyone who comments on the constitutionality by first saying “Clearly” or “Obviously.”  

        Tom Russell

        • sxp151 says:

          More lefties who support the most extreme right-wing tactics in order to try to punish those who aren’t quite progressive enough.

          That way lies madness. You saw what happened to Christopher Hitchens, didn’t you?

          You are now combining three issues by the way. One is the actual constitutionality of this bill (which you have never addressed), the second is the politicization of this Court, and the third is the merits of the bill for you as a progressive. Those three issues are unrelated.

          • RedGreen says:

            is not “the most extreme right-wing tactics.” Frankly, most of the responses to the AGs’ lawsuit are the same kind of responses lefties (and civil libertarians) had when righties defended torture and indefinite detention. “Stop complaining! It’s keeping us safer!” doesn’t answer the criticism. Neither does “Look at all the children who will be insured!”

            And it sounds like Tom is addressing the constitutionality a few places. He says compelling someone to engage in commercial activity is uncharted territory. That’s debatable, but Tom has made points on the merits of the suit.

            • sxp151 says:

              First, my point to Tom is not to stop complaining, nor that the bill is a good thing. I don’t think that’s relevant to the debate. My point has been that the lawsuit is meritless. Tom disagrees, that’s fine.

              But Tom as an expert in the field should have a stronger objection to the constitutionality of the bill than that its benefits are overstated, or that Scaly Tony is likely to do whatever he wants anyway, so why worry?

              So far the only objection I’ve seen is that it uses the commerce clause, like just about everything else the federal government has done for 220 years. Phoenix Rising posted a 1792 law written by the Founding Fathers mandating that people purchase weapons. So if Tom thinks mandates are uncharted territory, I think he should have a response to that.

              Filing frivolous lawsuits to assert states’ rights in order to impress teabaggers is pretty extreme in my view. Perhaps not the most extreme (there’s still cop-killing, I guess). I think a self-proclaimed liberal who endorses such a strategy for tactical reasons is being foolish, just as Christopher Hitchens was when he endorsed the impeachment of Bill Clinton claiming it was because of the bombing of Sudan.

              If I come here saying I’m a math expert, and comment on the CBO score of the health bill and say it has a serious mathematical error, I should be able to point out what it is and explain it. If instead I just say the bill shouldn’t be doing this or that, it’s irrelevant to my critique and to my expertise. In that case I’m complaining as a political observer, not as a professional.

              • ClubTwitty says:

                Salt Lake City – Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert has signed two bills authorizing the state to use eminent domain to seize some of the federal government’s most valuable land.

                Supporters hope the bills, which the Republican governor signed Saturday, will trigger a flood of similar legislation throughout the West and, eventually, a Supreme Court battle that they hope to win — against long odds.


                Just wondering, since he’s on the anti-reform suit with Suthers.

                Also seems like he would have a better chance of victory challenging the Utah (attempted) land grab.  But then I guess upholding the Constitution is a selective thing, isn’t it?

      • JeffcoBlue says:

        Maybe Progress Now isn’t targeting lawyers with this email?

        You goddamn null null elitist!

    • Steve Harvey says:

      Are you trying to tell us that you’re not Triguardian?

      It’s awfully lonely out there without the hive….

      Seriously, though, we already have laws that mandate that people, under various circumstances, buy the product of for-profit insurance companies (liability insurance). The difference here is that it is not tied to any particular activity (e.g., driving), but rather mandated for everyone. It’s not impossible for a holding to pivot on that distinction, but I don’t see it.

      Furthermore, a lot of our tax dollars go to for-profit companies, as governments contract out services. In this case, government just eliminated the middle man (i.e., government). Again, a holding can pivot on that, but….

      I disagree with your last statement, if you mean that you’re not at all unhappy about it as a matter of public policy. I actually agree that getting everyone into the insurance pool is one component of successful and comprehensive healthcare reform. If we went to universal single-payer, as many of us would prefer, then everyone would be in the insurance pool via the federal government and our tax contribution. That we are continuing to use private rather than public agents to deliver that service is not, in and of itself, an issue for me.

      • Steve Harvey says:

        The distinction between public and private sectors is not dichotomous. Each involve spectra projected toward the other and overlapping in the middle. The public sector becomes more and more “private-sector-like” a more outsourcing and more incorporation of market incentive-mechanisms are employed. The private sector, conversely, becomes more and more “public-sector-like” the more highly it is regulated. A heavily regulated private sector service provider can be more “public-sector-like” than a heavily outsourced and marketized public sector system of services provision.

        The health insurance industry isn’t regulated enough yet by this small step, but it is more regulated than it was, and in some critical ways. We’re moving in the right direction.

    • gertie97 says:

      If people don’t want to buy health insurance, then they’re banned from emergency rooms, walk-up medical clinics, the works. If EMTs are called, and the person is uninsured by choice, then the EMTs walk.

      Then I have no problem with it.

  6. bluemountains says:

    From Suther’s office said he did think the Commerce Clause applied to the health care system but that he thought that the “mandate” was unconstitutional. Since the mandate is actually a tax penalty and doesn’t carry a criminal penalty, how does this lawsuit have any validity? Aren’t they arguing the power to tax? When I look at my paycheck and see FICA, I know that the federal government is taking money for services I don’t have a choice in buying; Medicare and Social Security. Wont those programs serve as precedent in this case?

    • Steve Harvey says:

      from a legal point of view this mandate is not identical to a tax because a tax goes to the government to pay for government supplied services, while this is a mandate to buy something directly from a private firm. Court rulings have hinged on far finer distinctions than that.

      Of course, we already have mandates to buy insurance from private insurance companies, in the form of auto liability insurance. Again, the distinction is that that mandate is triggered by the choice to enjoy the privilege of being licensed to drive, whereas the health insurance mandate is triggered by mere residency in the country. And, again, court rulings have hinged on finer distinctions than that.

      So, from a legal analytical point of view, there is no a priori reason for declaring that there is, absolutely and without doubt, no legal merit to the case. One can only say that there appears to be no legal merit to the case.

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