Making a delicately nuanced argument about the U.S. Constitution, former Republican congressman and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said Tuesday that provisions to force Americans to buy health care or pay a fine are not legal and he will file a lawsuit if they become law.
In a memo sent to the House and Senate leadership, the attorney general called the mandate requiring Americans to get health care a "living tax" that unconstitutionally penalizes people for being inactive.
"Never before has Congress compelled Americans, under threat of government fines or taxes, to purchase an unwanted product or service simply as a constitution of existing in the country (a 'living tax')," McCollum wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., Minority Leader Mitch McCollum, R-Ky., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Pa., and Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
According to the attorney general, a citizen's choice not to buy health insurance cannot rationally be construed as economic activity subject to the Commerce Clause.
"The Commerce Clause gives no authority for Congress to transform a citizen's individual choice to be inactivein the marketplace into a compulsion to purchase apparently unwanted insurance or be penalized," he wrote.
McCollum also said that taxes that are directly applied across the citizenry have to be "apportioned by the population of each state."
McCollum wrote that as attorney general of Florida he is in a position to file suit.
"While affected citizens of every state may pursue judicial relief from the individual mandate provisions, states have standing to sue the federal government to protect their sovereign and quasi-sovereign interests," he wrote.