Democratic attorneys general back Affordable Care Act at Supreme Court

Story highlights

  • Congress has the authority to require mandatory health care coverage, they argue
  • Republicans argue against individual mandates
  • The Obama-led mandate requires nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014
Democratic state attorneys general filed papers Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court, declaring that Congress has the authority to require all citizens to carry health insurance or face penalties.
The elected Democrats also had filed briefs with lower courts making similar arguments in support of the Affordable Care Act, spearheaded by President Obama. The legal arguments directly conflict with those of Republican state attorneys general who are challenging the mandatory coverage provision of the act that they call "Obamacare."
The Obama administration filed papers last week outlining its arguments in favor of the minimum coverage provision.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, who led the effort by Democratic officials to back the Obama administration at the High Court, was joined in a conference call with reporters by his counterparts from California, Iowa, Oregon and Vermont.
Gansler said the brief -- when filed at the close of business Friday -- will also be signed by attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Illinois and the District of Columbia.
"Our brief is apolitical," Gansler said.
When it was pointed out that no Republican had joined the brief he acknowledged, "The whole issue is political," noting that Republicans are still free to sign on if they wish.
The individual mandate requires nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties.
The officials said they would soon file separate briefs on two of the remaining three provisions which will be argued by the justices.
Oral arguments are scheduled for mid-March and a ruling is expected by June.