Health care reform: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says office cannot issue an opinion on law

    6:55 PM, Apr 14, 2010   |    comments
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    McDaniel said in a legal opinion issued by his office Wednesday that the attorney general is not required to advise lawmakers and state officials on federal law unless the questions involve or require the interpretation of state law.

    A group of Republican legislators had asked McDaniel's legal opinion on the constitutionality of the health care law.

    McDaniel, a Democrat, has said he doesn't plan on challenging the health care law in court and doesn't believe such a lawsuit would succeed.

    In Wednesday's opinion, McDaniel told the lawmakers there's nothing under law preventing him from filing a lawsuit but that decision would depend on the merits of the case.

    Opinion released

    Requestor: John Burris, State Representative

    Opinion: Does the health care reform legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representative (HR3590) violate the U.S. Constitution?

    Q2) Does HR35990 violate the 10th Amendment and thereby infringe on the sovereignty of the State of Arkansas?

    Q3) Can the federal government, purportedly acting under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, mandate citizens of the State of Arkansas to procure and carry health insurance coverage and then ine or tax them in the event they do not comply?

    Q4) Is this mandate by the federal government not in violation of the 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, denying or disparaging other rights retained by the people?

    Q5) Is there anything in Arkansas law that precludes the Attorney General from working with other states that have indicated they will file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation? Will the AG's office coordinate the consult with these states to make certain that all legal objections to a law that is sure to cost taxpayers a lot of money are raised on behalf of the people of Arkansas?

    ANSWER: Q1-4)

    These questions do not fall within the scope of an Attorney General opinion. The opinion rendering function of this office does not ordinarily extend to questions of federal law, except as
    those questions involve or require the interpretation of state law. See A.C.A. 25-16-706. Q5)

    No state law precludes the Attorney General from considering possible collective action with other states on particular matters. The decision on such collective efforts depends upon my
    view of the merits of the legal arguments being raised. I have the authority and responsibility to use my judgment in providing legal representation to the State and its agencies and officials.

    (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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