Well, not exactly friends. More like about 1,800 people who have joined a Facebook group in the last ten hours or so to tell Rob McKenna that they want to “opt out” of his lawsuit against the health care reform package. Um, I realize Facebook hasn’t been around that long, and I’m a late adopter of new things, but I’ve never seen anything like it.
As for the possibility of a McKenna lawsuit against health care reform, several legal scholars quoted in The Seattle Times seem to think it wouldn’t fare very well. For example:
“There is no precedent whatsoever that would call this into question,” said Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University.
Hall said the Constitution’s Commerce Clause can apply broadly to allow the government to regulate health insurance and that courts have shown “a very strong presumption in favor of the validity of whatever Congress does.”
States can sue, “but I can’t imagine a scenario in which a judge would enjoin the implementation of the federal health-care bill,” said Lawrence Friedman, a professor of constitutional law at the New England School of Law in Boston.
“Federal law is supreme,” he said. “There’s really no room for doubt that federal law controls.”
And what about the argument that the health care reform package will violate the tenth amendment? Well, maybe not. From The Los Angeles Times:
States often require those who buy cars or homes to purchase insurance. But opponents of the federal healthcare bill argue that those who those purchases do so willingly, while the health insurance requirement affects all Americans regardless of choice.
But Mark Tushnet, a constitutional law expert at Harvard University, said that the central premise relied upon by the bill’s opponents—that Americans who choose not to have insurance aren’t involving themselves in the nation’s commerce—is incorrect.
“The failure to have health insurance doesn’t mean the person won’t be consuming health services,” Tushnet said. Once they receive care, he said, they have become involved in commerce and are subject to the federal government’s regulation.
Not being an attorney, I can’t really say if McKenna’s lawsuit would sink to a standard of “frivolous” required for the state bar to take action against him. But I bet there are several attorneys (or more) among McKenna’s new Facebook pals who are busily exploring such things, and who will start all over again in the morning. It sure sounds like McKenna is on thin legal ice here.
For now I’m leaving aside the repeated calls for impeachment or recall, that’s another kettle of fish, but if McKenna persists in his folly I’d imagine that’ll get explored some more too. Yeah, those tools are very hard to use in our state, but that’s how mad a lot of people are at McKenna. And then, of course, there is the Legislature and then there is Governor Chris Gregoire, who rightly blasted McKenna today.