An 18-state lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Gov. Haley Barbour joined this month has little merit, Attorney General Jim hood said during a 100 Black Men luncheon at the University Club today.
The health-care reform legislation mandates, among other things, that American citizens buy health-insurance coverage. The federal government will provide money to help eligible citizens afford the insurance payments, based on income. Barbour enjoined the state in a suit pushed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and 18 other states, including Arizona and Nevada. McCollum argues that the new law will impose massive new cost burdens upon state government, and that forcing citizens to buy private insurance is unconstitutional.
Hood said he had little taste for the suit that Barbour instructed him to join, but did enough research to declare the endeavor a pointless venture.
"I can't let my bias and where my heart is in trying to help people get in the way of my job as the state's lawyer, so I had a duty to give a good close look to see if the (law) was constitutional," Hood said, adding that he had a difficult time locating lawyers willing to scrutinize the likelihood of a successful suit against the federal government.
"I had trouble getting a constitutional lawyer to actually talk to me about it. I mean, they were just scoffing at it," Hood told an audience of 50. "I went everywhere. Finally I walked down here to (The Mississippi College School of Law) and got (professor) Matt Steffey, sat him down, and made him get down in the ditch with me and go through this, and discover what could be illegal about this Congressional act. But there was nothing that I could find. The only way this could be illegal is if the Supreme Court ... were to reverse hundreds of years of case law."
Hood said he informed Barbour of the fruitlessness of the suit, and suggested the governor refrain from investing heavily in court fees on the case.
"I think he got the message, and I suspect he won't be spending much money on that lawsuit," Hood said.
Phone calls to Barbour's spokesman, Dan Turner, were not immediately returned.
Thank God for at least one well thinking Officer of the State.