Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law.

“Today our nation’s highest court acknowledged that this case poses serious questions about the limits of federal power,” McKenna said. “Access to affordable, quality health care can be expanded without cutting constitutional corners. Health care reform is far too important to rest on an unconstitutional foundation.”

In September, the petition by the 26 states, along with a parallel petition from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and two individual plaintiffs, asked the nation’s highest court to consider whether the health care law’s mandate that every American buy government-approved health care or face a fine exceeds Congress’ powers under the Constitution, and whether the mandate can be severed from the rest of the law.

McKenna noted that in the early days of the lawsuit, some widely quoted legal experts suggested the case had “no merit” or was nearly frivolous.  The moderator of a 2010 U.W. panel about the case even claimed to be unable to find a law professor to argue on behalf of the lawsuit.  Both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta later ruled that the law’s mandate is unconstitutional.  Even among judges who ruled in favor of the health care law, none dismissed the lawsuit as meritless. Now the nation’s highest Court says the case requires its consideration. 

McKenna added that he was pleased the Court decided to hear the case during its current term, which should allow the Court to rule on the case sometime before June 2012.  


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725