Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s concerns about the constitutionality of the Senate health care reform legislation led him to join with other Republican AGs in protesting the deal.
In an interview today, McKenna said he believes that provision could violate Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which says Congress may collect taxes for the “general welfare” of the U.S., not for a special benefit for a particular state.
“We think it’s constitutionally defective. We’re continuing to research it,” McKenna said. And apart from the legality, “it just doesn’t seem right,” he added.
He said he may also look into whether it would be constitutional for the federal government to require all U.S. residents to purchase health insurance.
McKenna said that mandate may violate the 10th Amendment, which limits the powers of the federal government – reserving other powers for the states.
“The U.S. government has never before required the citizens of the U.S. to buy a particular good or service,” McKenna said. He stopped short of saying he’d launch a legal challenge on that basis. “We need to do more work on it,” he said.
While the Seattle Times new-found conservative streak causes them to object to Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback” deal – even to hope that a court will “strike it down” – it doesn’t stop them from concluding that the Republican AGs are acting with a political motive, even though it just as possible that they’re acting because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve heard AG McKenna speak about the Constitution; his knowledge of and respect for it are impressive. There’s no reason to assume that he’s acting for any motive other than a belief that the Constitution actually is the law of the land. To do so is merely to prove that political biases are hard to shed.
Personally, I’m just grateful that someone is willing to take a look at the constitutionality of the health care monstrosity and if this happens to be one of those times when good politics happens to coincide with good citizenship, that’s okay by me.