One of the primary roles of the state Justice Department is to protect citizens from government overstepping its bounds, according to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Van Hollen spoke to Waupaca County Republicans at their Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner in New London Sunday, Jan. 30.
“I want to make sure the state and federal governments do not do what they are not lawfully authorized to do,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen said this principle motivated him to join the lawsuit in a federal district court in Florida, seeking to nullify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Van Hollen attempted to join the suit in 2010, but Gov. Jim Doyle refused. The state Legislature also denied Van Hollen permission to join the suit.
“In Wisconsin, the attorney general has an awful lot of power, but we can’t fight back unless we get approval from the governor or one of the houses of the Legislature,” Van Hollen said Sunday.
After Scott Walker was elected governor and Republicans swept control of the Assembly and the state Senate, Van Hollen was given the nod to oppose the 2010 federal health care reform through the courts. Wisconsin then joined 26 other states in the Florida suit.
Van Hollen described the federal health care law as “an attempt to push through a policy initiative that violates the constitution.”
He said the law’s provision requiring every American to buy health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty was unconstitutional.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida ruled that Congress exceeded their constitutional authority by requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance, while prohibiting health insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
In a statement issued Monday, Van Hollen said, “Now, we wait to see if the federal government has finally gotten the message. If they don’t get the message, and decide to appeal the case, as they did when they lost in Virginia, my colleagues and I will continue our fight to defend the Constitution and protect the people of Wisconsin from this unconstitutional law.”
To date, two federal courts have ruled that the insurance mandate is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and two federal courts have ruled against it.
Federal District Judge George Steeh in Michigan found that the decision not to buy insurance qualified as an “activity that substantially affects interstate commerce.”
“These decisions, viewed in the aggregate, have clear and direct impacts on health care providers, taxpayers and the insured population who ultimately pay for the care provided to those who go without insurance,” Steeh wrote in his ruling.