As expected, Nevada’s attorney general announced Tuesday that she won’t be joining any lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Catherine Cortez Masto, in a letter to Gov. Jim Gibbons, said the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to regulate interstate commerce and provide for the general welfare.
Gov. Gibbons had asked the attorney general to join with more than a dozen other states and challenge parts of the new federal law, particularly the provision that mandates individuals buy health insurance.
By declining, Ms. Masto reveals her allegiance to federal activism at the expense of the states. But her position is not a surprise. Ms. Masto is a politically ambitious Democrat who wouldn’t dare upset her party’s powerful statist wing by challenging its latest effort to impose a cradle-to-grave welfare state on the nation.
It is nevertheless disappointing, however, that Ms. Masto would trot out the Constitution’s “general welfare” clause as justification for her inaction. If those two words give Congress carte blanche to do whatever it wants, why was the rest of this magnificent document even committed to paper?
The next step for Gov. Gibbons should be to force a challenge over the attorney general’s right to ignore his request. Nevada Revised Statute 228.170 says: “Whenever the Governor directs or when, in the opinion of the Attorney General, to protect and secure the interest of the State it is necessary that a suit be commenced or defended in any federal or state court, the Attorney General shall commence the action or make the defense.” The language seems to make clear that the governor has the power to compel the attorney general to go to court. Ms. Masto obviously has a different reading of the law.
It’s time for a judge to decide.