Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray cited his experience clerking for two U.S. Supreme Court justices in explaining today why he would not join a lawsuit to strike down parts of the federal health-care overhaul.
Cordray spoke about studying constitutional law at the knees of Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked in successive terms in the late 1980s. He said the experience taught him about the importance of precedent and leads him to think that the lawsuit by 13 other state attorneys general is likely to be thrown out because of prior rulings by the Court.
“It would require tearing up decades of contrary precedent,” Cordray said in a conference call with reporters. He added that the lawsuit would consume state resources he would rather spend on other priorities, such as consumer protection.
A Democrat, Cordray won election in 2008. Most of the 13 attorneys general who have joined the lawsuit are Republicans, led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. Cordray said he has faced pressure from Republican lawmakers in Ohio to join the lawsuit and felt a need to give a public, formal response. “I work with these individuals who have made this request on a daily basis. I have great respect for them,” he said.
In denouncing the lawsuit, Cordray also invoked the words of former solicitor general Charles Fried, now at Harvard Law School, who on Sunday accused those bringing the suit of either grandstanding or being ignorant. “It is simply a political ploy and a pathetic one at that,” Fried told ABC’s “This Week.”