Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has asked his staff to examine the constitutionality of the Senate’s health care reform legislation signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
Edmondson’s staff is expected to brief him in the near future about whether the interests of Oklahoma are in jeopardy and whether it would be prudent for Oklahoma to engage in litigation, Edmondson said.
“When I get that answer I will make my decision and make that public,” said Edmondson, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate. Edmondson and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins will compete in the Democratic primary on July 27.
Edmondson signaled more than two months ago that he was prepared to take legal action should unconstitutional provisions remain in the bill.
“That was specifically in regard to the Nebraska provision. So I’m not averse to taking appropriate legal action but I think it’s a little quick to do that,” Edmondson told The Edmond Sun.
Calling the health care bill unconstitutional, Rep. Mary Fallin urged Edmondson this week to take legal action against what she calls “Obamacare.”
“I am outraged that such a blatantly unconstitutional bill could have made it this far in the legislative process, and I am calling on our attorney general to speak out now and to join other attorney generals in filing suit,” said Fallin, a Republican candidate for governor.
Other Republicans vying for governor include Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, Roger L. Jackson of Oklahoma City and Robert Hubbard of Piedmont.
Republican attorneys general from 13 states were poised to sue the federal government Tuesday as Obama signed the Senate’s health care reform legislation into law.
“Every day that goes by without our attorney general filing suit is a day that Drew Edmondson has chosen the far-left agenda of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi over the people of Oklahoma,” Fallin said.
Edmondson said his office would need to examine the final version of the bill. He also noted that final results of a reconciliation bill passed by the House are still being considered by the Senate.
Typically, the courts have relied on the commerce clause in giving Congress fairly broad powers to enact legislation for the benefit or protection of people, Edmondson said.
“This one is a little unique because it involves private health insurance rather than a government program,” Edmondson said. “And that is the twist that requires a little more research. If it was a strict commerce clause issue, it would not be as difficult to determine.
“This is a little different, and we’re just having to take a look at it.”
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