Nev. AG Candidate Sues over Health Care Reform, Says Law Violates Rights of Free Expression, Religious Freedom

September 1, 2010
An evangelical Christian lobbying group and a far right-wing candidate for Nevada attorney general have lodged a sweeping lawsuit against the health care reform law. Joel Hansen, theĀ  Independent American Party candidate, and the Nevada Families Eagle Forum claim that the Affordable Care Act violates "at least half a dozen constitutional amendments, including the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, 10th and 13th," reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Hansen, at press briefing about the lawsuit, said that unlike the other legal challenges to the health care reform law, his is not about states' rights. Instead, Hansen said, "It's about individual rights. It violates the First Amendment because a lot of people are pro-life and this law forces them to contribute to (paying for) abortions. That's a violation of religious freedom."

Hansen, whose party supports legislation "to return authority over abortion and public prayer to the states," and "to control the Federal Courts," also maintained, as the newspaper reported, that "many religious Americans do not buy insurance because they liken it to gambling, and forcing them to buy insurance would be another First Amendment violation."

In its June 2010 newsletter, the Nevada Families Eagle Forum, edited by Mr. Hansen's sister Janine, warns of turbulent economic and political times, and calls for a spiritual renewal of sorts. "The first thing to do is to make sure your hearts are right. I go to the source of God's wisdom, the Bible," she wrote.

A string of state attorneys general have joined lawsuits challenging a provision of the health care reform law that requires certain individuals to purchase health care insurance or pay a fee to offset their use of health care entities, such as visits to an emergency room. Those lawsuits primarily argue that Congress does not have the authority to enact such a law. Many constitutional law scholars and experts disagree, arguing that Congress has authority under the commerce clause and the power to tax and spend. In an interview with ACSblog, Simon Lazarus, public policy counsel of the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) and author of an ACS Issue Brief on the constitutionality of health care reform, chided the state attorneys general for bringing the lawsuits, saying they were frivolous and politically motivated. See video of Lazarus' interview here.