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Attorneys general in 11 states poised to challenge healthcare bill

As soon as President Obama signs the healthcare bill into law, the attorneys general say they will challenge its constitutionality. The mandate to buy insurance is at the center of the controversy.

By Staff writer / March 22, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference Sunday night after the House passed the healthcare bill. Eleven states are set to challenge the constitutionality of the bill as soon as President Obama signs it.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Attorneys general from at least 11 states say they will challenge the constitutionality of the healthcare reform bill passed by the House of Representatives Sunday night.

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The threatened action suggests the controversial measure is about to move from the legislative realm into what could become a protracted and messy fight in the courts. The attorneys general say they will sue once President Obama signs the bill into law. They are pledging to take their battle all the way to the US Supreme Court.

“The health care legislation Congress passed tonight is an assault against the Constitution,” said South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. “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 said in a statement.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a similar statement late Sunday. “If the president signs this bill into law, we will file a lawsuit to protect the rights and interests of American citizens,” he said.

Which states are moving to block healthcare law?

The comments came after a Sunday night conference call of attorneys general from 11 states, in which most expressed support for legal action to block the law. In addition to Florida and South Carolina, the attorneys general backing legal action were from Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota. [Editor's note: The original paragraph has been changed to omit a state that will not participate in legal action.]

In addition, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that he will file a lawsuit on behalf of his state challenging what he called the “unconstitutional overreach” of the healthcare law.

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