Tim Pawlenty denied health care lawsuit

Almost before the ink was dry on President Barack Obama's signature making it the law of the land, the health care reform package passed by Congress was challenged in two separate federal lawsuits by 15 Republican governors; 14 were led by Florida's attorney general and Virginia's AG filed a separate suit.

Tim Pawlenty wanted to be No. 16, and formally requested DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson join the lawsuit. She assured him she'd examine the Constitutional issues and get back to him.

Late Monday she did just that: No dice.

Not only would Minnesota not be suing the federal government, but Swanson said she would be filing a friend of the court brief supporting the legislation on Constitutional grounds:

"Based on my legal analysis and review of the Constitution and applicable legal authority, I have determined that a lawsuit by the State of Minnesota against the United States of America is not warranted and, accordingly, I will not be filing such a lawsuit," she said. "I have further determined to file an amicus brief in support of the United States to set forth what I believe to be a correct reading of the Constitution. I have made these decisions in fulfillment of the oath I took as Attorney General to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Minnensota."

"The debate over health care has spilled from the halls of the United States Congress to the corridors of the judicial branch, with the Constitutional debate unfortunately dividing along partisan lines," Swanson said. "In states like Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, Democratic governors have questioned the motives of the Republican Attorneys General who filed the lawsuit, and the Governors plan to file amicus briefs on behalf o the United States; conversely, in states like Georgia, Nevada, and Mississippi, Republican Governors have questioned the motivations of the Democratic Attorneys General who ha not filed lawsuits, and the Governors are considering filing amicus briefs in support of the suit."

True enough. is running with this headline: "ObamaCare Flatlines: 15 States and Counting Sue Federal Government Over Obamacare: Represent 37% of the U.S. Population"

"Flatlines" when the position is solidly in the minority? Interesting, too, that the GOP site believes the AGs "represent" the population, given the disagreements between democratically elected Democratic governors and their Republican AGs, but that's politics. The alternate headline might read: "ObamaCare Triumphs Despite Loud, Angry Minority Challenge."

Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, told the Star Tribune this morning that Swanson's response is not the end of the story:

"Governor Pawlenty intends to participate in this litigation." He refused to comment on whether the governor would file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting lawsuits filed by other states, hire his own lawyer or participate in some other way. "We are going to consider our options," McClung said in an e-mail.

Georgetown law professor Randy E. Barnett told us a few weeks ago the lawsuits represent a serious legal obstacle to the reform package.

There's a full copy of Swanson's letter to Pawlenty at Minnesota Public Radio.

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