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Boehner, Cantor, ACLJ among those joining Cuccinelli's health care fight

Rosalind Helderman

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and 26 other Congressional Republicans have signed an amicus brief filed by the American Center for Law and Justice supporting Virginia's legal case against the federal health care law.

Filed in court Tuesday, lawyers for the ACLJ offer further legal arguments supporting Virginia's contention that Congress overstepped the bounds of its constitutional authority when it passed a law requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or face a fine.

The group attempts to pick apart the federal government's claim that the individual mandate should be allowed under Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said the individual mandate "is just completely contrary to the constitutional framework."

Founded in 1990 by Rev. Pat Robertson, ACLJ was designed to support traditional values through constitutional scholarship. The group has spearheaded numerous cases at the Supreme Court, including a variety of school prayer suits and cases dealing with the rights of protesters outside abortion clinics.

Like the ACLU, Sekulow says the ACLJ is a membership organization. The group asked members whether they wished to participate in the suit and 70,000 said they wished to join the brief.

Other Congressional signers are: Paul Broun, Todd Akin, Rob Bishop, Michael Burgess, Dan Burton, Mike Conaway, Mary Fallin, John Fleming, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Louie Gohmert, Bob Goodlatte, Jeb Hensarling, Walter Jones, Steve King, Doug Lamborn, Robert Latta, Michael McCaul, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jerry Moran, Mike Pence, Jean Schmidt, Lamar Smith, Todd Tiahrt, and Zach Wamp.

The government has argued that even people who choose not to purchase insurance impact interstate commerce because when they sicken or get injured, they are provided care in hospitals, the costs of which are then absorbed by the rest of the health care system.

But the ACLJ compares that argument to one that would say the government could force citizens to purchase GM cars to help prop up the ailing company. After all, they analogize, everyone needs to get from one place to another and so the mandate would be merely dictating what kind of transportation a citizen must choose.

"Upholding the individual mandate to force private citizens to buy health insurance will thus strip any remaining limits on Congress's power to control individual economic behavior," ACLJ attorneys write.

The group has also filed its own suit against the federal law in Washington D.C., and they say they'll be filing a separate amicus brief in the federal suit filed on behalf of 20 states in Florida.

"I think having multiple approaches on this is very wise," Sekulow said. "Now, you'll have three very viable cases on this."

It's a good bet Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is far more pleased with this missive of support than the other amicus brief that has so far been filed in the case.

It arrived Monday from Ray Elbert Parker of Alexandria. While Parker would seem to agree with Cuccinelli's critique of the federal health care law ("a one-size fits all boondoggle forced on American citizens against their will" and steered by "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Queen of United States Socialism.") But Parker argues there must be just a "single arena for gladatorial legal combat" over the law and urges the Virginia judge to consolidate Cuccinelli's suit with the Florida issue.

Cuccinelli has argued strenuously that it is appropriate that he be leading a separate legal charge against the federal law because he must defend a state statute passed this year that makes it illegal to require individuals to buy health insurance in Virginia.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 9, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Eric Cantor , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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