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Oklahoma to challenge health care law

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Oklahoma will file a lawsuit challenging President Obama's health care overhaul
  • The law's individual mandate contradicts a new amendment to Oklahoma's constitution
  • Oklahoma's lawsuit is distinct from a Virginia lawsuit and another one filed by 20 other states

(CNN) -- The state of Oklahoma will file a lawsuit within the next few weeks challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, according to the state's incoming attorney general.

"There is great clarity for me on the necessary and urgent need to exercise my responsibility to defend Oklahoma's Constitution against a federal government and president that have gone too far in their overreach of power and authority," Attorney General-elect Scott Pruitt said in a written statement Friday.

Pruitt was backed by Oklahoma Governor-elect Mary Fallon, who called the health care overhaul an unfunded mandate that is "bad for our economy, bad for our health and bad for our states."

It's "an unconstitutional Washington power-grab that seeks to force our citizens to buy certain products," she said.

Pruitt and Fallon, both Republicans, focused on a provision in the new law requiring most Americans to have health insurance by 2014. Oklahoma voters backed an amendment to their state constitution last November specifying that residents cannot be required to purchase insurance.

Oklahoma's pending lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the overhaul, which is widely viewed as Obama's signature domestic accomplishment.

The law's so-called "individual mandate" was found unconstitutional by a Virginia federal judge in December.

The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, is expected to rule on that lawsuit in the next few months. The case, regardless of the outcome in Richmond, is almost certain to ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The challenges in Virginia and Oklahoma are separate from a lawsuit filed by Florida and 19 other states. A federal judge in Pensacola, Florida, heard arguments in that case in December.

Congressional Republicans in Washington are expected to push for a repeal of the health care overhaul next week, though the measure is not expected to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate.

 
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