Democratic AG Opposes Individual Mandate

The New York Times reports that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit opposing the constitutionality of the individual mandate. This is significant because Koster is a Democrat (albeit one of recent vintage, having switched parties in 2007).

In Missouri, a ballot referendum aimed at nullifying the law was approved by nearly three to one last year, and the legislature recently passed resolutions urging Mr. Koster to join the legal challenges. The state’s lieutenant governor, a Republican, filed a lawsuit last year seeking to block the law.

In a letter to the Republican leaders of the legislature announcing his decision to oppose the law, Mr. Koster acknowledged that the legislative resolutions, though nonbinding, were “impactful, as they give voice to the political will of Missourians.”

Although he supports an expansion of health coverage, he wrote, his duty is “to the law, and not to a political outcome.”

Though Mr. Koster has been slow to weigh in, he did not mince words, arguing in the court brief that Congress had overstepped its authority by mandating that individuals buy health insurance, which he called “a substantial blow to federalism and personal freedom.”

“If Congress can force activity under the Commerce Clause, then it could force individuals to receive vaccinations or annual checkups, undergo mammogram or prostate exams or maintain a specific body mass,” he wrote.

He asked that the mandate be stripped from the law, and that the rest of it be allowed to remain in effect.