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March 25, 2010 Jay Finegan, 287-1445
Rep. Cushing Rejected in Effort to Debate Constitutionality of ‘ObamaCare’ Mandates

The Legislative Council today rejected a joint resolution by Rep. Andre Cushing that would have called for Maine’s attorney general to join a lawsuit charging that the individual mandate in the new federal health care bill is unconstitutional. The 6-4 party line vote kills the measure.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed that legislators will not have the opportunity to debate this issue,” said Rep. Cushing (R-Hampden). “The Democratic members of the Council seemed predisposed in their positions even before hearing my statement. They seemed willing to accept Attorney General Janet Mills’ comments that the current lawsuit had no merit, without giving consideration to the underlying issue of the federal government overstepping its authority. If the attorneys general of at least 14 other states have decided to press a constitutional argument, the issue deserved at least a debate in the Maine Legislature.”

Rep. Cushing contends that the federal government should not be able to compel its citizens to buy a product or service, whether it’s health insurance or anything else, under threat of fines for noncompliance. The new “ObamaCare” health plan will require all Americans to have insurance coverage starting in 2014. Failure to purchase insurance will result in financial penalties levied by the Internal Revenue Service, which will hire more than 15,000 new agents to enforce provisions of the health plan.

“All Americans should be disturbed that this universal health plan mandates that every citizen must buy health insurance,” said Rep. Cushing. “This goes to the heart of our freedoms, such as the freedom to be left alone. The federal government was never meant to have such a massive and intrusive impact into our personal lives. No public policy goal – regardless of its importance – can be allowed to trample the protections and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. If we don’t draw the line here, where will we draw it?”

So far, 14 states are challenging the constitutionality of the new law, known formally as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They include Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Virginia.

Virginia has already passed the Health Care Freedom Act, declaring that “No resident of this Commonwealth…shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual health coverage.” As a constitutional amendment, it will need voter approval to become law.

”This issue is headed for an ultimate showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court,” Rep. Cushing said. “Unfortunately, Maine will be on the sidelines. We could have been involved in an historic decision that will determine if the federal government has the authority to tell us how to live our lives. For the sake of the freedoms that thousands of Americans have died for, we must resist this vast overreach of federal authority.”