Missouri AG Files Brief in Support of Health Law Challenge

April 12, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The now-Democratic Missouri Attorney General has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting 26 states’ challenge that the individual mandate in the new health care law is unconstitutional.

Chris Koster, whom Reuters pointed out was a former Republican legislator who switched parties when he ran for attorney general, said in the filing that “it is the opinion of this office that the Congress reached beyond current Commerce Clause precedent when it regulated that individuals maintain ‘minimum essential [healthcare] coverage’ or pay a penalty.” Koster contended that in reviewing this aspect of the law, federal courts must either expand Congress’ Commerce Clause authority, justify the provision on alternate constitutional grounds, or strike down the individual mandate.  

Koster made clear in his brief that he is not against the health care reform in general, saying the individual mandate is “severable” from the legislation and that those provisions of the bill not clearly dependent upon the mandate may stand.  

“Our argument against the expansion of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority is emphatically not based on any opposition to the expansion of health coverage for uninsured Americans. To the contrary, I favor the expansion of health coverage,” Koster wrote.  

The brief was filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to hear arguments in the case in June (see Judge Sets Florida HCR Challenge Hearing Date).  

The amicus brief is here.