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Attorney General Six says Kansas will not challenge federal health care legislation

Kansas Attorney General Steve Six says it would be fiscally irresponsible to challenge health care reform because he thinks the case would fail.

April 2, 2010, 2:48 p.m. Updated April 2, 2010, 5:42 p.m.

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— Kansas’ attorney general said Friday he won’t join colleagues in other states in challenging the new federal health care law because he believes their lawsuit has little chance of success.

Democratic Attorney General Steve Six’s announcement drew immediate criticism. Many Republicans see the new law as an attack on individual liberties because it requires most Americans to buy health insurance starting in 2014. One legislator noted that Six was appointed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, now U.S. secretary of health and human services.

The Republican-controlled Legislature still could order Six to challenge the law, and a resolution requiring a challenge has been introduced in the House. Also, Six’s decision is likely to be an issue as he runs for election this year.

But Six said the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate commerce. He also dismissed arguments that the law is unconstitutional because of its changes in Medicaid. Finally, he said, there’s no need for Kansas to challenge the law because other states already are.

“Our review did not reveal any constitutional defects, and thus it would not be legally or fiscally responsible to pursue this litigation,” Six said in a statement. “I will continue to make decisions based on the law, not in response to political pressure.”

Thirteen states, led by Florida, filed a federal lawsuit moments after President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation into law last month. The states claim the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional and the Medicaid changes violate states’ sovereignty.

Virginia has filed its own suit, attacking the federal law over the health insurance mandate. Virginia enacted a law this year to prevent that state from imposing a health insurance mandate.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Kansas Republican who’d urged Six to get involved, called his decision “extremely disappointing” and “a break from our state’s storied history founded in personal responsibility and individual liberty.”

Sebelius is a defendant in both lawsuits. She appointed Six attorney general in January 2008 after Six’s predecessor was forced to resign because of a sex scandal. She joined the Cabinet in Washington in April 2009.

“There is a clear conflict of interest to me,” said state Rep. Aaron Jack, an Andover Republican.

Jack and 21 other Republicans in the Kansas House are sponsoring the resolution requiring Six to file a legal challenge. A 1975 state law allows one chamber to direct the attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of a state or federal statute.

“We have unelected leaders in the executive branch that want Kansas to sit on the sidelines,” Jack said. “That’s a shame, because this is the seminal constitutional event of our generation.”

Some GOP legislators want to amend the state constitution to prohibit Kansas from requiring individuals or businesses to buy health insurance. It’s designed to block implementation of the federal law in Kansas and put the state in a better legal position for a challenge.

State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican who advocates such an amendment, said Six’s refusal to challenge the mandate smacks of politics.

“For the federal government to take this step — it is an exceptional violation of individual liberties,” she said.

Six has the backing of Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson, who was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor when Sebelius left for Washington.

“Governor Parkinson supports Attorney General Six’s analysis and appreciates that he made this decision based on a sound legal analysis and not the politics of the moment,” Parkinson spokesman Seth Bundy said.

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Comments

Hektor 5 years, 1 month ago

Duh. Six has better things to do than to waste time on something as ridiculous as this.

I thought the TB'ers were against judicial activism anyway?

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

Aren't these folks who want Kansas to sue Uncle Sam the same folks who had a recent tantrum.....wanting to legislate that one government entity (school districts) could not use tax dollars to sue another government entity (the state legislature)?

What's the difference?

If these folks would turn off Glenn Beck long enough to see what's in the health care bill, they'd see no one is requiring them to buy insurance. They'll just pay less tax if they do. I guess they've forgotten McCain's campaign promise of a $5,000 tax break for buying health insurance. Or, maybe that sort of thing isn't a problem when a white guy wants to do it.

yme 5 years, 1 month ago

Putting the well-being of the state before politics? If he were Republican you could make that argument. His finding nothing unconstituional seems perfectly political. And please, can someone here make a liberal observation without whinning about Glenn Beck, Rush or Sarah Palin. No you can't because you have no facts, just attack the messengers. If you think this is not mandatory insurance you are nuts. This will save no money for the consumer, will increase the debt mulitple times over and not solve the actual problems it is designed to solve. I can figure that stuff out simply by reading the bill and applying logic, which is something you obviously can't do. And by the way, I don't listen to Beck, Rush, O'Reilly or any other commentor. I take the time to read and make my own obervations, not just spout someone else's talking points, which is all any of you have done. Not everything is about race, greed or big business. Sometimes it is simply about policies that work, and there are virtually none in this crock of a bill. Regardless of your thoughts, you can't come out with Six being anything but political on this issue. Had he really been non-political he would have said they would study the issue and study complaints from other states. You folks fan the flames just like you accuse all on the right of doing. And the use of TBer, do you have similar slurs for everyone who thinks differently from you. You say you dislike Beck and Rush for stirring things up, but you are doing the same thing, but I guess since it is in the name of liberalism it is ok

63BC 5 years, 1 month ago

Fourteen AGs and counting, including at least one Democrat, have challenged this law.

Six always ends up doing whatever the Democratic Adminstration wants...right after saying how independent he is.

Even independents aren't buying that nonsense anymore. They've seen what Democratic control means.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

KS Manimal,

The difference is asking the state to defend its citizens from new and unnecessary taxes, government bureaucracy, and poor healthcare outcomes - while the other is asking that local school districts not seek new and higher taxes to fund additional government spending.

MyName 5 years, 1 month ago

@yme:

People are taking the piss out of Rush/Palin/Beck et al. because they seem to be the "brains" of the conservative movement ATM, and that is a sad sad thing. Especially when you compare them to people like Buckley, Reagan or Thatcher. It's not about "shooting the messenger" it's about pointing out that the Scarecrow that is left of the conservative movement has no brains and needs to ask the Wizard to fix that.

And I love how you make the blanket statement that Six's decision "seems perfectly political", fail to back that up with either facts or logic to show why you reach that conclusion, and then complain about other people making unsupported statements in the next sentence. Are you irony impaired or something?

The AG did his job, which is to look at the statute, compare it to State and Federal constitutional law, and come up with his interpretation of whether it was constitutional or not. He came to the conclusion that it was constitutional. Your suggestive course of action isn't to look at the actual case law, but is instead to just throw lawsuits up there and see what sticks. This strikes me as much more about politics than the decision to not act unless you can clearly see that there is a Constitutional issue.

In short: your side lost fair and square, stop whining and start planning on how to make healthcare better instead of asking for another round of trench warfare in the court system because you didn't like the outcome.

BigPrune 5 years, 1 month ago

Of course he's not going to challenge it. He's a spineless coward. To challenge ultimately effecting the second most powerful person in the country Kathleen (I never knew an abortion doctor I couldn't shake hands with) Sebelius.

I wonder what all the old people will do? This health plan is perfect. Not only will it be a huge pain to use, but it will weed out the weaklings of society (the old people). THAT'S how they'll save Social Security! The old people will die earlier.

Such a perfect devious plan devised by the payola Democrats, Hitler would be proud.

So....put that in your hemp pipe and smoke it you Socialists, because it's true.

roadrunner 5 years, 1 month ago

We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance? Who is it that makes me buy car insurance anyway? I'm assuming it's the State of Kansas. Hmmmmm.....if they are gonna fight so people don't have to buy health insurance, then I'm gonna fight to not buy car insurance..... What a bunch of idiots! We should all bear a small part to make it less expensive for EVERYONE! Good job AG Six!!!!

TheYetiSpeaks 5 years, 1 month ago

"Major setback for the Republican Fascists."

Funny...I don't think the Repubs are making me buy health insurance....Do you even know what Fascist means?

TheYetiSpeaks 5 years, 1 month ago

"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance?"

Because if I break my leg, its not going to kill someone else in a head on collision.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

Kudos to Judge Six. I am sick and tired of having to pay for those who refuse to take care of their health and then go to the emergency room with the sniffles and guess who gets to pay for their failure to provide for their health care??

Yup. All of us who have insurance and pay for it. I am firmly with the plan that all be required to have health insurance.

Or should we arrange with the emergency rooms to do a financial review of patients and those who are not covered are shown the back door, out to the street where you are to just suffer and/or die?

Jake Esau 5 years, 1 month ago

You can not buy auto insurance and still be on the good side of the law... don't drive a car. :-)

wolfy 5 years, 1 month ago

YetiSpeaks says, "Because if I break my leg, it's not going to kill someone else in a head on collision." ----- But if you break your leg and you are uninsured and unable to pay out of pocket, you will get expensive treatment at the ER, and those who are insured will foot the bill. We must have full participation to make this work.

And Steve Six is doing the right thing here by not filing a frivolous lawsuit. There is no colorable constitutional cause here. Congress has broad powers under the commerce clause to enact laws regulating industries that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. This is particularly true when a national solution to an issue is deemed necessary. I applaud General Six for his decision not to capitulate to political pressure.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 1 month ago

"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance?" <--FLAWED reasoning.

Not one blind person has ever been forced to buy car insurance, but they will be forced to buy health insurance.

The only ones who will NOT be forced to buy health insurance is the elected officials that passed this. <>

mr_right_wing 5 years, 1 month ago

"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance?" = FLAWED reasoning.

Not one blind person has ever been forced to buy car insurance, but they will be forced to buy health insurance.

The only ones who will NOT be forced to buy health insurance is the elected officials that passed this.

TheYetiSpeaks 5 years, 1 month ago

"But if you break your leg and you are uninsured and unable to pay out of pocket, you will get expensive treatment at the ER, and those who are insured will foot the bill."

This statement is an over simplification at best, at worst its just flat out wrong. Its all a bit more complex than that. Furthermore, if it's the money you are so concerned about then I really fail to see your point. Under the new plan, are not the taxpayers going to foot the (even more immense) bill. Are we not the ones who will be paying with an increasing national debt. Are we not the ones who will pay with the loss of our country eventually. We cannot continue to hemmorhage money away with this constant introduction of unnecessary legislation.
The healthcare bill is a ploy for the Democrats in power to sustain their abilty to get reelected...nothing more. The only thing that changes is that we go further into debt.

Democrats healthcare bill = Repubs taking us to war and crying "Patriotism". Its all for the votes, man. Go to limitationsamendment.org for a solution.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

Will Dear Leader's illegal alien aunt have to buy health insurance now?

kansasredlegs 5 years, 1 month ago

@ roadrunner:
"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance?" --- Apparently, you don't understand the argument, so please sit on the sidelines until you catch a clue. You make the point for the Republicans and their position regarding States' rights. Car Insurance: Is forced by states, but not all states require it ctiizens to buy it. There is no FEDERAL car insurance mandate. You're welcome.

" Who is it that makes me buy car insurance anyway? I'm assuming it's the State of Kansas." --- We have a winner!!! Roadrunner come on down and collect your prize.

"...if they are gonna fight so people don't have to buy health insurance, then I'm gonna fight to not buy car insurance..." No need to fight just move to Vermont. Remember it's a States' Rights issue, not a federal issue.

"..... What a bunch of idiots! We should all bear a small part to make it less expensive for everyone! Good job AG Six!!!!" No comment needed, see above.

LiberalDude 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you AG Steve Six. Good to see some common sense in the Kansas Government!

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

What are they reporting over at CBS? "The poll, conducted March 29 through April 1, found that so far the president's efforts to build up support for the bill appear to be ineffective. Fifty-three percent of Americans say they disapprove of the new reforms, including 39 percent who say they disapprove strongly. In the days before the bill passed the House, 37 percent said they approved and 48 percent disapproved." http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001700-503544.html

staff04 5 years, 1 month ago

Maybe he's really not challenging the law because he thinks it wouldn't be prudent to spend money the state doesn't have on a lawsuit that AT LEAST A DOZEN OTHER STATES are willing to fight for Kansas...

If a federal court deems it unconstitutional, it will be unconstitutional for everyone, not just the states that put up the cost of the lawsuit.

I think the real reason the wingers are upset about this is that they know the new law will pass constitutional muster and have run out of ways to delay the effects of it.

Mike Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

It's funny to hear all of these serfs wanting their own fiefdom with their own rules because their party lost and continues to lose. they attack legal bills with irrational denial and repeat the mantras they hear on fox over and over hoping that the repetition will attract other dimwits like moths to a light. futhermore I'm upset with the money wasted fighting the legal casino of the Wyandotte Nation in KCK by the Six and Morrison AG offices. No one seemed to care about this.

friendlyjhawk 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, Six, for your reasonable decision.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

To Lawrence Guy's question whether I am a "socialist" Do you know what a socialist is?

Define it for me.

I am a 66 year old citizen that is sick and tired of the political polariazation of this country that I see being fanned by the likes of Limbaugh and his ilk. Their only goal is to sell their victims (called dittoheads) cheap crap and political scum that is easily digested by small-minded people who think they are republicans and conservatives (another label that is loosely tossed around by persons ignorant of the real scope of political science.)

I like and dislike elements of both sides of the political spectrum (I am in favor of gun control, I am in favor of safe and legal abortion rights, I am in favor of a strong and competant military, I think climate change is happening, I think the algoreism that it is human caused and that we can control it is crap, I think sarapalin is an idiot who is out to be a TV star , I am old enough to shake my head at the aggregiousness of the talk show yammerheads that so many idiots take for hard news, and I am truly convinced that the tea baggers are just another generation of hippies, beatnicks, and non-conformists that have plagued society for many generations.

I do not fit any currently fashionable labels, when did having a liberal attitude become a crime?? (or a conservative for that matter??)

The current rracousness bothers me but not as much as the Chinese owning a large piece of our country. Our ancestors are probably turning over in their graves that we are coddling and befriending the Red Chinese, and know that they will stab us in the back when we are most vulnerable. Nothing good will come of schmoozing up to these very wise and dedicated people who will eventually take over our country and not a shot will be fired.

jaywalker 5 years, 1 month ago

No more fed funds for highways, schools, et al........

Shocking decision.

feeble 5 years, 1 month ago

mr_right_wing (anonymous) says…

"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty.... Why shouldn't we be forced to by health insurance?" = FLAWED reasoning.

Not one blind person has ever been forced to buy car insurance, but they will be forced to buy health insurance.

Yes, but the man featured in your user icon did pass a nifty little piece of legislation, EMTALA, that does force any and all health care providers and ERs that accept government funds (over 90%, nationally) to provide emergency medical care, regardless of the nationality or ability to pay.

The trick here is if you wait long enough any medical condition can become an emergency, especially in the over 50 crowd.

Buggie 5 years, 1 month ago

Of course not. He doesnt challenge anything. I agree with the earlier post. He is spineless.

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

"We are forced to buy car insurance or pay a penalty."

Specious argument. You arent forced to buy car insurance because you aren't forced to buy a car to insure. No car, no insurance. Period.

It's almost stupid to have to point this out, but the federal government doesn't require you to have insurance if you own a car anyway.

"Aw, isn't that cute. Poochie"

Be careful, * will get delusions you are calling him a pig in Italian.

Re: constitutionality of forcing citizens to buy a corporation's product - the Roberts court will slap obamacare down before the republicans get a chance to not fund it.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

staff04 (anonymous) says… Maybe he's really not challenging the law because he thinks it wouldn't be prudent to spend money the state doesn't have on a lawsuit that at least a dozen other states are willing to fight for Kansas...

If a federal court deems it unconstitutional, it will be unconstitutional for everyone, not just the states that put up the cost of the lawsuit. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I think you are absolutely on the money as to AG Six's reasons for not challenging this. Why waste KS taxpayer money when we'll know the results from the other lawsuits?

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

markoo (anonymous) says… Yes, you still do have a choice not to have insurance, but you'll pay a penalty fee come tax season. Not to worry though, because the little secret about the mandate if you refuse to pay the tax for choosing not to buy insurance is that they aren't enforcing a penalty on you in any way. Ezra Klein on the Washington Post mentions this:

"And what happens if you don't buy insurance and you don't pay the penalty? Well, not much. The law specifically says that no criminal action or liens can be imposed on people who don't pay the fine. If this actually leads to a world in which large numbers of people don't buy insurance and tell the IRS to stuff it, you could see that change. But for now, the penalties are low and the enforcement is non-existent."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I was sure I had read about that somewhere but just couldn't recall where. Thanks for the link!

kujayhawk7476 5 years, 1 month ago

So, the AG is is up for re-election as are many other members of the Kansas legislature, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. Here's an idea that is way past it's time; let's send all those up for re-election to any office, home to find jobs in the economy they have created and done nothing about, buy healthcare the way you and I do and participate in Social Security as you and I do. Wow, how simple this really is!

lynniesue 5 years, 1 month ago

i think it is a smart thing that he is not wasting money kansas already doesnt have on something that if it does make it to the supreme court and is overturned will effect us all...and here is a thought on car insurance...if it is a state by state mandate why not let the people of the state decied on health insurance this way too... let it be a state law not a federal law...i personally dont think our counrty needs anymore debt but something has to be done about health insurance

CHEEZIT 5 years, 1 month ago

How long is it going to take me to get to see my doctor once this takes effect? If I feel I can't wait that long and go to the emergency room what is the line there going to be like???

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

"Non-action isn't economic activity."

Of course it is. Stop wasting people's time. And stop mooching off my money you welfare cheat - buy your own damn health insurance!!!

BlackVelvet 5 years, 1 month ago

would someone please tell me, if this is such a good deal, why aren't the congressmen/senators/president participating in it? No one seems to give a hoot about this fact.

BlackVelvet 5 years, 1 month ago

Concressmen don't pay into social security. Their health insurance is much much better than what most of us have. I'd imagine Obama doesn't pay a co-pay or a deductible on his health coverage.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

Richard Cordray, the AG of Ohio and Tom Miller, AG of Iowa have also stated that they will not pursue lawsuits against the health care bill.

If you're interested in their reasoning, it's in the opinion section of Politico.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 1 month ago

I have two comments.

  1. Articles are not law, it doesn't matter who writes them...they are an opinion and an opinion only.

  2. It is asinine for this much anger to occur from the AG refusing to file a pointless and expensive suit. This state can't even afford to keep the courts open during normal business hours and yet some people want the AG to file a law suit that is bound to fail and is already being filed by several different parties! There is nothing to gain here and our AG is saving us from potentially millions of dollars being wasted for nothing.

Seems pretty darn smart to me...

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 1 month ago

"Liberty_One states:

The beauty of the Constitution is that the law is written down so that we know what it is. Letting judges re-write it without us voting on it is not what the founders intended. The things you list, slavery, women's suffrage, minoritiies' suffrage, were not achieved by judicial reinterpretation but through the proper method--amendments to the Constitution."

I am guessing you have not read the constitution and/or not recieved a basic legal education. If you had read the constitution you would be aware of how short it is. Unlike the constitutions of other Western countries that read much like our statutory system... the constitution of our country is very basic and very broad. The reasoning for this could be discussed in hundreds of pages and even if I could provide valuable insight into it... this obviously isn't the proper format. I only thought it apt to point this out... considering your assertion that the constitution was some divine document that needed no judicial inference.

The judiciary's right to judicial review was established in 1803 and has continued ever since. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). This isn't some new idea that just came up, it has been a well defined role of our judiciary since shortly after the revolution.

You might not agree with it, but your assertion that the constitution read like a book of statutes under literal interpretation is illogical. I suggest actually reading the constitution and then spending a few hours contemplating how that would function if you had your way. Furthermore, the judiciary isn't rewriting the constitution, they are defining it, as is the judiciary's role. Feel free to point to several examples of judicial decision that you don't agree with, I am sure you can just as easily point to several examples of legislative action that you don't agree with. Isn't that the point of having judicial review?

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

"it seems my argument has gone over your head. Apparantly you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, and I doubt it's worth my time to explain it to someone who's going to make such immature and condescending comments like you have."

Translation: You've cornered me. I could show character and admit error. Or I could take the cowards way and pretend that you're a troll. Guess which I'll take?

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

Lib, I believe the quote was "I suggest actually reading the constitution and then spending a few hours contemplating how that would function if you had your way." Your response was hardly proportional to the offense and was transparently crafted to avoid debate. Response would certainly have NOT "wasted" your time (see, John Stuart Mill).

I too suggest that you read the constitution for the first time without your ideological prejudice. You've long since demonstrated an ability to cite and point to the markers of your ideological agenda as part of your advocacy focus. But your poor understanding of the substance of the topics at hand severely undercut your marshaling of arguments and curtail your ability to persuade anyone.

Lawrence Tribe wrote a highly regarded treatise on constitutional law. Any law library will carry the multi-volume treatise by Rotunda & Nowak. Corwin's is out of date but being pre-Warren might provide a good foundation for the New Deal era. Start with the Art. I, s. 8, powers to the Congress, which I know you have a keen interest in. Once you've mastered what the law is you can then perhaps advocate what the law should instead be.

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Lib, everyone else is wasting your time. ROFL

"I have a far better understanding of the topics at hand than you."

Demonstrably not so.

"There's never been a question of what the law is."

Really? You entire modus operandi is to pretend that the law says something other than what it does as a lazy way toward pushing your weird ideology.

"What is my response supposed to be?"

Perhaps a precise explanation of actual facts? Of course, you would have to know those facts in advance. I'm not the first or even the second person to point that out to you. Kid, there's no short cut to doing the homework.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

You know Liberty2, you've never answered the question on who you think should have to pay for it when an uninsured person has medical bills they can't pay.

Jimo 5 years, 1 month ago

"Yup, you really don't seem to understand what's going on."

Yup, if you can't address exposure of your delusions then just pretend that reality doesn't exist, that being forced to defend your assertions is beneath a busy (what, unemployed?) person like yourself. So, refuse any discussion of detail and keep yourself to grand-sounding, pseudo-intellectual abstract points where right/wrong is easily confused with your opinion vs. my opinion. Not much call for that sort of phonyness outside of journalistic-like hackery, btw.

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