Jerry Brown: Stop Playing Politics With Health Care

Brown critical of health care challenge

Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010  |  Updated 4:22 PM PDT
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Jerry Brown: Stop Playing Politics With Health Care

NewsConference: March 7, 2010, Jerry Brown

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Jerry Brown, California's attorney general and a candidate for governor, accused other attorneys general of playing politics in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the landmark federal health care overhaul.

Brown, a Democrat, said he doubts the legislation signed by President Barack Obama violates the Constitution, but he said his staff will review the law.

Attorneys general from 13 states on Tuesday sued the federal government, challenging the constitutionality of the bill just minutes after Obama signed it. Most of the attorneys general are Republicans.

"We'll just have to see how it goes, but I do think that the politics of this have really been horrible," Brown said during a visit to KCRA 3. "This is a big issue. It's complicated. The bill is obviously not perfect. But I would like to see both parties trying to fix it. And let the Republicans say, 'OK, we have some other ideas here.' Basically, it just obstructionism, and it's dividing our country when we really need at this point in our history to pull together and forge a common purpose."

When asked if the health care package infringes on states' rights, Brown said his staff is studying it.

"Our lawyers don't read a 2,200-page bill overnight," Brown said. "I mean, that's just silly. This is obviously talking points, not serious law-making. Whether it's violating the Constitution, I would want to have a serious analysis and then reflect on it. You just don't pop out, 'Oh, it's against the Constitution!'" That's really politics."

The lawsuit challeging the health care package was filed in Pensacola, Fla., after the Democratic president signed the bill.

"The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage," the lawsuit says.

Legal experts said the lawsuit has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws. California is not a party in the lawsuit.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. All are Republicans except James "Buddy" Caldwell of Louisiana, who is a Democrat. 

KCRA.com contributed to this report.

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