This Washington

Republican State Sens. Come Out Swinging for McKenna Lawsuit

By Josh Feit March 23, 2010

Press releases angrily condemning Attorney General Rob McKenna have been flooding PubliCola's email inbox.

Today, however, a couple of GOP state Senators—Sen. Jenea Holmquist (R-13, Grant, Kititas, Yakima) and Sen Val Stevens (R-39, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish)—sent out a statement of their own getting McKenna's back, including a zinger aimed at Gov. Chris Gregoire. (I've bolded that.)
“Attorney General McKenna is demonstrating leadership and courage in fighting this unconstitutional bill and joining in a multi-state lawsuit to challenge it in court,” said Holmquist, R-Moses Lake. “As elected state officials, we have sworn an oath to uphold the United States and Washington state constitutions. We have an obligation to defend the rights of the citizens of our state.”

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that any powers not specifically granted to the federal government, nor prohibited by the Constitution to the states, are reserved for the states and the people.  Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given the authority to compel private citizens to purchase something as a condition of citizenship, including health care coverage.

“It is the attorney general’s job to defend the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment,” said Stevens, R-Arlington. “He doesn’t need the governor’s approval to do that. It’s simply the right thing to do. Besides, I don’t recall that Governor Gregoire, when she was attorney general, had to consult the governor before joining other states’ attorneys general in the tobacco lawsuit."

Stevens and Holmquist have also introduced a bill that would prevent those who don't get health care from being fined—as the federal rule now mandates.

This isn't the first time we've taken notice of Sen. Holmquist's pugnacious press releases (she's also been the star speaker at tea party rallies in Olympia). Nor is this  the first time this year the GOP has made an issue out of the 10th Amendment.

(Given that PubliCola is a James Madison reference—Publius Valerius PubliCola was his Federalist Papers pseudonym and yes, our name is in fact a reference to those 1787-1788 blog posts—you'd think we'd have some serious 10th Amendment analysis. But basically, all I know is that Madison was pro states rights when he argued against the national bank and against state's rights when he invented the necessary and proper clause. And in Federalist #44, he was all about "futurity"—the concept that the Constitution should accommodate changes over generations. )

As for the bust on Gregoire's famous tobacco lawsuit, Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren pointed out that then-AG Gregoire consulted with then-Governor Mike Lowry and Lowry "actually stood alongside her at the press conference she did announcing the suit."

And Shagren ended with a zinger of her own: "I don't know how you compare  a lawsuit against  big tobacco which causes harm to our health and costs our state hundres and millions of dollars in health care costs to a lawsuit that would basically prevent our state from receiving health care assistance to [1.4 million families] in need."
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