Rule of Law

NCGA Dems weigh in on health care suit

Posted by Mark Binker

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Greensboro Reps. Alma Adams and Pricey Harrison are two of the 30 North Carolina legislative Democrats who have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act in a suit that is before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ACA is better known in some circles as “ObamaCare” or the national health care reform law.

According to Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat who rounded up the North Carolina signatures, 452 state lawmakers from 48 states have signed onto the brief. The brief was organized by the Progressive States Network and Constitutional Accountability Center, Insko said.

An amicus brief is also known as a friend of the court brief. It allows people and organizations who are not party to the case on appeal to give the justices their thoughts on the case. Michael Gerhardt, a UNC law professor who attended Insko’s news conference today, says there’s some evidence that amici briefs can help sway the court, particularly if they come from a variety of sources.

The brief that Harrison, Adams and others signed onto lays out why the lawmakers think the law is constitutional, including a requirement that individuals buy health insurance and that states expand their Medicaid programs.

I asked Harrison if she thought that she would alienate some voters by backing a law that is unpopular in many circles. She pointed out that the conservative voters mostly likely to oppose the federal health care law weren’t really her base to begin with.

“I think I lost them already,” Harrison said, adding that she had been an outspoken supporter of the Obama administration. “I’m not going to back away from that.”