Rule of Law

Liberal Lawmakers Take Cue from Tea Party in Defending Health Care Law [With LEGAL BRIEF]

By Dan Rivoli

Thursday, January 12, 2012 7:31 PM EST

The Tea Party is not the only group that can use the Founding Fathers to bolster its views of the Affordable Care Act.

More than 500 state legislators from around the country Thursday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the health care law and the insurance mandate in a legal brief that name checks George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

While light on legalese and case law compared to most legal briefs, the lawmakers from all 50 states delved into Washington’s papers and correspondence, records from the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist Papers to illustrate how the Founders gave the federal government the “power to provide national solutions to national problems.”

“The Affordable Care Act has the Constitution’s text and history on its side. It has the nation’s Founders on its side. It has Supreme Court precedent on its side,” said Doug Kendall, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center, which filed the brief on behalf of the lawmakers.

Though Tea Party supporters, some of whom have donned tri-corner hats and period garb, denounce “Obamacare” as an affront to the U.S. Constitution’s Framers, the group of progressive lawmakers argue the individual mandate fits well into the Founding Fathers’ desire to see an “energetic government,” in the words of Washington.

“The state officials challenging the Affordable Care Act have promoted a vision of a starkly limited federal government,” the brief said. “This deeply flawed vision has no basis in the Constitution’s text and history.”

The brief is one of many that have inundated the Supreme Court before the justices hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act this March.

The lawmakers’ brief follows one from Monday representing 36 senators who argue that the entire health care law must fall should the individual mandate be deemed unconstitutional. Last week, more than 100 congressional Republicans and the conservative American Center for Law and Justice signed onto a brief making the same argument as the GOP senators.