Updated 4:35 p.m. April 11, 2011 with comment from Jones and Tilley.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says Congress overstepped its constitutional powers under the commerce clause when it mandated that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Koster says he filed a document (see below) Monday with a federal appeals court supporting a Florida lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health care law.
The action by Koster, a Democrat, comes after Missouri voters last year passed a measure prohibiting people from being required to have health insurance. It also comes after Missouri's Republican-led House and Senate passed resolutions urging Koster to defend the new state law and challenge the federal health care law.
Koster says he believes the individual insurance mandate can be struck down while allowing the rest of the federal health care law to remain in place.
Republican leaders in the Missouri House are pleased, but not impressed, with Koster's decision to file the legal brief. Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones said Koster’s filing of an amicus brief does not mean that Missouri is joining in the lawsuit.
“It might be something that the public might be interested in seeing, but as far as the courts, amicus briefs are filed all the time, they don’t carry that much water, to be honest with you…it’s like somebody saying, ‘yeah, me too,’” Jones said.
In addition, House Speaker Steven Tilley said Koster’s actions are politically motivated, suggesting he filed the brief to improve his chances for re-election next year. The Attorney General’s office has so far not responded to requests for a comment.