On behalf of the City of Seattle, City Attorney Pete Holmes asked the Washington State Supreme Court today to require that the state attorney general, Rob McKenna, withdraw his lawsuit challenging the health-care reform bill passed by Congress in March.
“The Mayor, the City Council and I want Rob McKenna to comply with the law. He does not have the authority to take this cynical, partisan action in the name of the State of Washington,” Holmes said in a written statement. “He certainly does not represent the City of Seattle. While claiming concern for the U.S. Constitution, the Attorney General disregards Washington’s own constitution. He should withdraw from the lawsuit.”
In filings with the court (.pdf), Holmes argues that AG McKenna has only the powers given to him by the state legislature, which don't include making the autonomous decision to join a dozen states in a federal lawsuit. "None of the provisions of RCW 43.10.030 grant authority for the Attorney General to act unilaterally to make the State of Washington a plaintiff in the Florida lawsuit without the Governor's concurrence," the petition says. And Governor Chris Gregoire has famously denounced the lawsuit, saying, "I completely disagree with the Attorney General’s decision and he does not represent me."
Back in March, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution opposing McKenna's actions and supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Right on, city council! Right on, Pete Holmes!
The full statement from Holmes's office is after the jump.
The City of Seattle today asked the Washington Supreme Court to require Attorney General Rob McKenna to withdraw the state from a multistate challenge to the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation that Congress passed last month.
“The Mayor, the City Council and I want Rob McKenna to comply with the law. He does not have the authority to take this cynical, partisan action in the name of the State of Washington,” City Attorney Peter S. Holmes said. “He certainly does not represent the City of Seattle. While claiming concern for the U.S. Constitution, the Attorney General disregards Washington’s own constitution. He should withdraw from the lawsuit.”
The City argues that McKenna overstepped his authority when he joined 12 other state attorneys general in trying to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
According to the City’s petition, McKenna has “only the powers expressly given by the state legislature,” none of which “grant authority for (him) to make the State of Washington a plaintiff in the Florida case without a request by the governor or any other state officer.”
In fact McKenna caused a firestorm in Olympia with his surprise announcement that he would join the legal opposition spearheaded by Florida. He consulted neither Gov. Chris Gregoire nor leaders of the House and Senate. Gregoire has since collaborated with three other governors in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder opposing the lawsuit and saying they “will stand by your efforts to protect this most historic improvement of health care for every citizen of this nation.”
In addition to describing the City’s role in providing health care, the petition filed today notes how important reform will be to Seattleites: “Public health data indicates major disparities in health outcomes based on health insurance status.” In 2005 residents expressed their concern about inequities in health care coverage when they approved — by 69.5 percent — an advisory ballot measure that stated: “Every person in the United States should have the right to health care of high quality and the Congress should immediately enact legislation to implement this right.”
Last month the City Council echoed that desire when it adopted, and Mayor Mike McGinn signed, a resolution supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and opposing McKenna’s move to contest it.
The City’s petition first goes to a Supreme Court commissioner, who will review it and schedule a hearing. After listening to both sides, the commissioner will decide whether to forward the petition to the Supreme Court or to a Superior Court.