In announcing his intention last week not to pursue litigation concerning the recently passed federal health care act, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said, “my decision is based strictly on law, not politics.”
Because Six is a Democrat, some observers may doubt that politics wasn’t involved, but the attorney general laid out a couple of practical reasons why Kansas should bypass this legal battle. First, after an extensive legal review, he and his staff believe there is little chance that the lawsuit claiming the health care act is unconstitutional will be successful. The debate over the health care bill is a policy issue, he said, not a constitutional issue.
Six also pointed out that it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to pursue the litigation. State finances are strained, and litigation is expensive. Besides, he noted, other states already have filed a lawsuit and any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court would apply equally to Kansas — at no cost to Kansas taxpayers.
Nonetheless, when it returns later this month, the Kansas House is expected to consider a resolution ordering Six to file the lawsuit. Legislators can do that, but if they simply want to register their displeasure over the health care bill or even their support of the litigation being pursued by other states, they can do that without forcing Six to join the lawsuit or committing state money to the effort.
Given the state’s financial condition, accepting Six’s decision to bypass the health care litigation seems the most prudent course.