Van Hollen says health care law unconstitutional; Dems fire back - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Van Hollen says health care law unconstitutional; Dems fire back

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Thursday morning announced that his office is seeking the required authorization to bring an action to contest certain provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Van Hollen says the major problem is the law's requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or face a fine.

"That's unprecedented," he said. "No federal court to our knowledge has ever made a decision that that is an appropriate constitutional reach."

He says if that's allowed to stand the federal government could compel us to buy almost anything.

"They could say that everyone who can afford to buy an automobile must buy a General Motors automobile or be penalized under the Internal Revenue Service code," he said.

The leader of one liberal group scoffed at the idea.

"If you were to ask him to speculate on something he would be unwilling to do so, but now he's putting out fantastical theories in order to advance the Republican agenda," Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, said.

Scott Hassett, Van Hollen's Democratic opponent this fall, says challenges to the health care law are doomed to fail.

"There's a long line of cases going back to 1937 that have upheld similar actions," he said

Hassett says Van Hollen is playing partisan politics - a charge Van Hollen denied.

"Whenever I do something they don't like I'm being partisan," he said. "When I do something they like I'm being reasonable."

Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson, (D) Kaukauna, says Van Hollen is standing in the way of democracy.

"What they're trying to do is take a piece of legislation that was passed by an elected body and go to the courts to try to stop this," Nelson said.

Speaker Michael Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker both said they have no interest in authorizing the lawsuit.

"Right now, as it stands, our number one priority is job creation," Nelson said. "So we have more than enough work to try to get these bills passed and try to get people back to work."

Early Thursday afternoon, Governor Jim Doyle sent a letter to Van Hollen, denying his request.

You can view a copy of Attorney General Van Hollen's letter by clicking here.

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