Effort to reject legal challenge against healthcare reform gathers steam

Thirty-five of the nation's leading economists said Friday they are opposing the 20-state legal challenge to the healthcare reform law.

The distinguished list includes three Nobel laureates and several high-ranking officials in former administrations. Groups representing people with disabilities, the business community and a broad coalition of healthcare reform advocates are also joining the fight.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the economists promise to "provide this Court insight into the key economic factors, including the significant distortions in the markets for medical care and health insurance, that led to the long-running health care crisis in this country."

They also vow to "explain why the unique economics of health care distinguish it from virtually every other business" and to "demonstrate that upholding the constitutionality of that provision will not serve as a basis for an unlimited expansion of the federal government's powers."

On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have over the past few days announced their intention to file briefs in support of the challenge, as have Govs. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) and Donald Carcieri (R.I.).

The increased activity comes after federal Judge Roger Vinson of Florida's Northern District last month threw out four of the six counts in the suit but retained two. They are:

Count One: The individual mandate and concomitant penalty exceed Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause and violate the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Count Four: The Act coerces and commandeers the states with respect to Medicaid by altering and expanding the program in violation of Article I and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. 

The suit was filed March 23, the same time President Obama signed healthcare reform into law.