If you’re on Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen this photo: A smiling state Sen. Mark Hutchison and a message about how he fought “Obamacare” all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And it’s true: He did.
After Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto refused a direct order from then-Gov. Jim Gibbons to join a coalition of states that had filed a lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, because she said it was a frivilous claim, Gibbons commissioned Hutchison to represent the state in the litigation. Hutchison took on the case pro bono, since state law doesn’t allow for attorneys hired by people other than the AG to be paid.
Essentially, Hutchison joined with the central thrust of the arguments against the law — the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t give Congress the authority to force people to buy insurance policies. And that argument ultimately was upheld: The Supreme Court declared the law was unconstitutional on that basis. So, Hutchison and the states coalition won!
But while the state coalition won that battle, it lost the war: The Supreme Court also held in a 5-4 ruling that the Congress did have the authority to impose a tax or penalty against those who refuse to buy insurance. Therefore, the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, under Congress’s power to tax.
Hutchison later went on to be elected to the state Senate, and to vote for the implementation of the now-legal “Obamacare” law he fought so hard against, a point that his Republican primary opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race — hotelier Sue Lowden — never tires of using against him.
But Hutchison wants you to know that before those votes, he fought Obamacare!