Hours after taking over as Wisconsin governor on Monday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker followed through on a campaign pledge and authorized Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to challenge the new federal health care law.
Van Hollen, a Republican, had asked Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle for approval last year to challenge the law but was denied. The Democratic-controlled Legislature also refused.
Walker said while campaigning for governor that if elected, he would authorize Wisconsin to join a lawsuit brought by 20 other states challenging the law. Van Hollen spokesman Bill Cosh said Monday that no decision had been made whether Wisconsin would join that lawsuit or file its own.
Walker's authorization allows Van Hollen to take any legal action he deems appropriate.
Van Hollen said in a statement that a requirement under the federal law that people purchase health insurance by 2014 or face penalties is unconstitutional.
A federal judge in Virginia ruled last month in a related case that the individual mandate requirement was unconstitutional. That case is expected to go to the Supreme Court. Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement.
Walker, in his letter to Van Hollen authorizing legal action, said he believed that requirement was unprecedented and unconstitutional. He said it was in the interest of the state to ensure the federal government doesn't exceed its authority as outlined in the Constitution.
Attorneys for the federal government have sought the dismissal of the states' lawsuit, saying they don't have standing to challenge the law.
States involved in the other lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.