Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA — A multi-state lawsuit challenging portions of the federal health care reform legislation will move forward, a Florida Judge ruled today.

The suit, brought by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, 18 other states, two individuals and the National Federation of Independent Business, alleged, among other things:

  • The unprecedented requirement that individuals lacking health insurance must purchase private insurance or face a fine violates the limited Commerce Clause powers of Congress and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the US Constitution concerning the powers of the states; and
  • The massive expansion of the Medicaid program, which will unconstitutionally require states to spend billions more on this program at a time when state budgets are already in crisis, violates Article I and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Contrary to what some Constitutional scholars predicted, Senior US Judge Roger Vinson of the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola today ruled he will hear arguments on these two challenges in mid-December, rejecting motions by the US Department of Justice to dismiss the case, although he found one count to be moot and dismissed three counts. 

In his ruling, Vinson said, “[T]here have been at least six attempts by the federal government to introduce some kind of universal healthcare insurance coverage. At no point – until now – did it mandate that everyone buy insurance...While the novel and unprecedented nature of the individual mandate does not automatically render it unconstitutional, there is perhaps a presumption that it is.”

Attorney General Rob McKenna said he was pleased the court agreed to hear arguments on these important Constitutional questions.

“The new national health care law represents a massive expansion of federal power unlike anything our highest courts have ever addressed,” McKenna said. “Health care reform is a vitally important issue in our country—much too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation. Judge Vinson has done a great service to our country and to our Constitution by rejecting the DOJ’s motion to dismiss this case and agreeing to hear the core issues raised by the states.”


For more information on the multi-state lawsuit visit:

Briefing schedule:

  • Nov 4:  Cross Motions for Summary Judgment due
  • Nov. 23:  Responses due
  • Dec. 6: Replies due
  • Dec.16: Hearing on the motions for summary judgment

• Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725
• Ryan Wiggins, FL AGO, (850) 245.0150 or Ryan.Wiggins@myfloridalegal.com