Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


Attorney General Olens and Governor Deal Applaud Ruling Striking Down Individual Mandate In Federal Healthcare Legislation

January 31, 2011

At a news conference today, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney Gen. Sam Olens vowed to continue the state’s lawsuit against federal healthcare reform to the Supreme Court after a federal district court judge ruled the law unconstitutional.  They applauded the decision of federal district judge Roger Vinson, who struck down as unconstitutional the requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that individuals had to purchase health insurance, otherwise known as the individual mandate.  Georgia and twenty-five other states, joined by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and several private citizens, challenged the law passed in early 2010 as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Olens, who as Attorney General is sworn to defend both the federal and state constitutions, stated that “the healthcare law Care Act violates the United States Constitution and burdens states with a huge unfunded mandate.”  When enacting the law, Congress and the White House claimed the authority to do so under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Olens went on that, “the linchpin of the law is the individual mandate that every citizen purchase health insurance or face substantial financial penalties for being uninsured.   In other words, Congress sought to use its power to regulate interstate commerce to prohibit an individual from deciding not to participate in commerce.”

“As the ranking Republican on the health care subcommittee in the U.S. House, I was the first to say on the House floor that the individual mandate is unconstitutional," Governor Deal said. "The federal government doesn’t have the right to demand that Americans purchase a product. Today’s ruling backs up that assertion. In fact, it goes even further by saying that the individual mandate is so inextricably linked to the overall bill that the entire law falls short of constitutional muster.

“Along with the great leadership of Attorney General Olens, I will continue to fight against this law because it bears too great a burden on Georgia taxpayers. This is an unfunded mandate that will cripple our state budget by flooding our Medicaid system.”

Although pleased with today’s ruling, Olens knows there is a long road ahead. 

“I fully expect that this legal challenge by a majority of the states in our Union will go all the way to the United States Supreme Court,” Olens said. “But the issues at stake are too vital to do otherwise. This case is about protecting our Constitution, which limits the powers of the federal government, and protecting Georgia taxpayers from the overwhelming costs the law would impose.”

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), who voted to repeal the federal healthcare reform legislation last week, joined the governor and attorney general at today’s news conference at the state Capitol.

“I hope today’s ruling encourages Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to do the right thing and bring up our repeal legislation in the Senate,” Westmoreland said. “There’s a growing consensus that this bill is unconstitutional. The Senate should do the right thing, scrap this law and start over with common sense reforms that will expand access to high-quality health care without violating the rights of every American and bankrupting states.”

Georgia is assisted in its efforts in this litigation by a team of pro-bono attorneys working at no cost to the state.  The team includes: Frank C. Jones, Michael C. Russ, Benton J. Mathis, Jr., Jason Alloy, John H. Parker, Jr., W. Pitts Carr, David G. Oedel and Joshua B. Belinfante.