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TribBlog: Texas "Fully Engaged" in Health Care Challenge

"It's just a question of whether to file our own lawsuit or join a multistate effort," says Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Attorney General Greg Abbott

If health care reform does indeed pass tonight, Texas will fight it in court.

Late Saturday night, as the political world braced for a frantic Sunday that is expected to culminate in a long-awaited vote on health care reform legisation, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott posted the following to his Facebook page:

We are fully engaged in the legal challenge to the healthcare bill. On Thursday we had a strategy call with other AGs, and today we briefed Texas congressional members who share our concerns with this bill. Texas will be undoubtedly challenge this constitutionally questionable law--it's just a question of whether to file our own lawsuit or join a multistate effort.

According to the Associated Press, 37 states have pending legislation similar to a bill that was recently signed into law in Idaho, which would trigger a lawsuit against the federal government if a bill passes requiring residents to buy health insurance. The number of states that ultimately challenge the bill in court will likely be more comparable to the 14 (including Texas), that — along with American Samoa — sent a letter to the Democratic leadership in Washington, D.C., in January threatening legal action if a provision giving Nebraska a break on expanding Medicaid costs remained in the final version of the bill.  That specific provision is expected to be removed from the bill, but a copy of that letter with the names of the attorneys general who were ready to go to court over it is available to your right.

"General Abbott has monitored developments throughout the day," says Daniel Hodge, Abbott's chief of staff. "We are currently working to help organize a strategy call tonight so that General Abbott and his fellow attorneys general can discuss the states’ legal challenge to the federal healthcare bill."

UPDATE:  Those who bet on a group effort were right. After a conference call with over a dozen states, Abbott posted the following update on Facebook:

“Just got off the AG conference call.  We agreed that a multi-state lawsuit would send the strongest signal.  We plan to file the moment Obama signs the bill.  I anticipate him signing it tomorrow. Check back for an update at that time.  I will post a link to the lawsuit when it is filed.  It will lay out why the bill is unconstitutional and tramples individual and states’ rights.”

Here is the statement Abbott released after healthcare passed:

"The federal health care legislation passed tonight violates the United States Constitution and unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans' individual liberties.  To protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation."

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