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July 28, 2012

AG asks judge to lift health care suit stay

OKLAHOMA CITY — A month after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the nation’s health care overhaul law, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked a federal judge Friday to lift a stay on a lawsuit he filed more than a year ago challenging the law.

Pruitt asked U.S. District Judge Ronald White in Muskogee to allow the state to address the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision, particularly its finding that the law’s individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is permissible as a new tax on people who do not obtain insurance.
Pruitt’s motion says the decision “raises new, and potentially significant constitutional questions” about the health care law.
Pruitt filed the motion about a week after the federal government again asked that Oklahoma’s lawsuit be dismissed, saying the high court’s decision resolves issues raised by the suit, according to online records of the U.S. District Court in Muskogee.
Pruitt filed the lawsuit in January 2011, but White stayed the case while the Supreme Court decided a separate lawsuit filed earlier by Florida and 25 other states that also challenged the Affordable Care Act. The nation’s highest court upheld the health care law June 28. Among other things, Oklahoma’s lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The lawsuit argues that the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution has never been interpreted to give Congress authority “to ‘regulate’ a citizen’s non-activity by forcing citizens to buy a product from a private company.”
In its ruling, the Supreme Court agreed that Congress lacks the power under the Constitution’s commerce clause to put the mandate in place, but it said the government does have the power to impose a tax on people without health insurance.
“The Supreme Court agreed with Oklahoma’s claims that the commerce clause does not give the federal government power to compel Americans to buy a product,” Pruitt said in a statement. “But in the process, the court found the individual mandate to be a new tax, which now raises significant questions about its validity as a revenue-raising measure.”

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