The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia announced today that the city has joined 11 states and the Virgin Islands in signing an amicus brief (PDF) to the U.S. Supreme Court that supports the constitutionality of the 2010 federal healthcare law.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in late March. Opposition is especially focused on the most controversial section of the law, known as the individual mandate, which would require most people to buy some form of health insurance.
In the amicus brief, which was dated Jan. 13, the attorneys general of the District, the Virgin Islands and 11 states expressed their support for the law and argued that the individual mandate is constitutional.
The brief, according to the statement released today by the D.C. attorney general’s office, contends that “the federal commerce power, by design, includes the power to regulate individual conduct so long as the individual’s conduct, combined with others’ conduct, may have a significant effect on interstate commerce.”
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler is the lead state attorney general on the brief, which was also signed by attorneys general representing the District, the Virgin Islands, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Vermont.
Local officials in Washington have gone on record in the past expressing support for the health care law, considered a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s domestic legislative agenda to date. In November, Attorney General Irvin Nathan and Mayor Vincent Gray praised a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that found the law constitutional.
A statement at that time from Nathan’s office explained that the city supports the law because it “represents an appropriate use of federal power to grapple with the United States’ healthcare crisis and to achieve a more rational, market-based system for paying for health care goods and services.”