McMaster, 12 others file suit against national health care law

Columbia, SC - COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina's attorney general, along with 12 other attorneys general across the U.S., are suing the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it's unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed immediately after President Barack Obama signed the overhaul bill Tuesday. It names the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor.

Henry McMaster issued a statement late Sunday calling the health care legislation "clearly unconstitutional." He promised then to join Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in challenging the measure, and he followed up on that promise Tuesday.

Joining McMaster and McCollum in the fight against the health care bill are attorneys general from Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, and South Dakota. Other attorneys general may join the lawsuit later or sue separately.

"Today, South Carolina has joined twelve other states in filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the national health care law signed by President Obama," McMaster said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "The key question involved is whether personal freedom, state sovereignty, and constitutional law will survive in America for future generations.

"A legal challenge by the States appears to be the only hope of protecting the American people from this unprecedented attack on our system of government," he added.

McMaster had said the measure violates state sovereignty because it requires all Americans have some form of health insurance.

"The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying healthcare coverage," the suit states. "By imposing such a mandate, the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution."

The Tenth Amendment states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

"The Act also represents an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states," the complaint claims.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pensacola.

Previous stories

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.