Will State Attorneys General Oppose HR 5 To Protect Federalism


One of the ways in which attorneys general protect the integrity of state laws and constitutions is by carefully reviewing the actions of the federal government and responding when they break the law or overstep the bounds of the Constitution.

Federalism is the division of authority between the federal and state governments that the Founding Fathers created to provide a check on federal power so that the federal government would not become destructive of the very liberty it was instituted to protect.

So states a press release on the website of the Republican Attorneys General Association. That’s a great statement of the mission of state Attorneys General, and state AGs of both parties have often backed that statement up with real action to defend states’ and individual rights from attack by Uncle Sam.

But thus far, we’ve heard nothing from state AGs about the intention of House Republican leaders, announced from behind closed doors without consultation with the AGs, to force a vote on a sweeping federal takeover of state courts and their jurisdiction over health care-related lawsuits. The leaders are forcing House Republicans to vote for that bill, H.R. 5, and making it difficult to oppose by combining it with the popular bill to repeal part of unconstitutional Obamacare, the section creating the IPAB “death panels.” House Republican leaders then made it very difficult to amend the bill by setting an amendment deadline of 3 pm ET Monday, a time when most House Republicans will still be out of town.

Numerous states’ rights advocates have spoken out against H.R. 5, recently an in the past year. Last week, the National Conference of State Legislators, constitutional scholars Rob Natelson and Ilya Somin, and Tea Party leader Judson Phillips again criticized the bill, reiterating previous denunciations of H.R. 5, or federal tort reform laws in general, by them and by Profs. Randy Barnett and John Baker; Sens. Tom Coburn and Mike Lee; and other conservatives and libertarians,

So it will be up to state AGs to take a stand for their states, and call attention to this overreach in federal power. Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli sharply condemned the Senate version of H.R. 5 last fall but has been strangely silent thus far.

There’s not much time left for House Republicans to hear from the self-proclaimed guardians of state constitutions and of states’ and individual rights.