Alaska Joins Health Care Reform Legal Challenge

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, there is breaking news! Alaska says it wants in, into the lawsuit with the other states taking on the federal government over health care.

Joining us by phone is Alaska governor Sean Parnell. Nice to listen to you -- nice to hear from you tonight, sir.

GOV. SEAN PARNELL, R - ALASKA (Via telephone): Oh, it's great to be with you again, Greta. Thanks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, so you want into this lawsuit?

PARNELL: I do. We -- you know, I'm one of these -- I'm one of these governors that thinks and then acts. And I asked my attorney general quite a few weeks ago to do the legal analysis on this for ourselves so we would know that we were acting in good faith, that we were doing our homework and avoiding the politics of the moment.

And yesterday, I got a briefing from the attorney general. He gave me a 50-page memo on -- just a -- just a very detailed analysis. I thought it was so important, what I saw and heard, that today I released that attorney general's memorandum and announced that Alaska was joining the other states in Florida's legal action against the federal government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, have you actually spoken to the attorney general in Florida, or have you designated your attorney general to do so? Have you spoken to the governor of Florida? How do you actually get in?

PARNELL: Our attorney general has spoken with the attorney general in Florida. They had a telephone call. I understand that the attorney general from Florida was very happy to hear that we'll be state number 20 in that particular action. So that's where we are.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is it that you think is unconstitutional in this statute, or this new health care bill?

PARNELL: Well, our Department of Law did just a complete analysis, and specifically, we are challenging the federal government's sweeping expansion of Congress's power under the commerce clause. We don't think the commerce clause authorizes the health care legislation's individual mandate there.

I mean, for me, when I started to read this memo -- and if you go to the state of Alaska's website, click on my face, you know, Governor Sean Parnell, go to "Priorities," you'll see something that says "Fighting national health care."

The question really is, should we allow the federal government to require citizens to engage in commerce? You know, your previous people on the show were speaking to that because Congress could now conceivably require all Americans to buy federally approved gym memberships in order to lower obesity and blood pressure rate. Or the attorney general's memorandum, you know, speculated, you know, they could now order us to buy GM cars under the threat of a tax surcharge so the federal government can better manage its stake in GM. It's just...

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard...

PARNELL: Go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard from any of your delegation, any of your members of Congress or U.S. Senators since making this announcement?

PARNELL: We have. We -- we have one representative, of course, two U.S. senators. I've got two of the three who are very supportive, and the other one is not.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I take it -- is this all along party lines at this point in Alaska?

PARNELL: It is. It is. But I've got to tell you, as I was looking at this, I began to realize that we got to stop making this about the health care debate and start making it about our liberty. If those folks who have been on the front lines of -- fighting for civil liberties, you know, people to the left of us for years and years, understood that this is about liberty, not about health care, it's about being mandated to make a choice on a commodity -- I think people would take a different view of things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, sir.

PARNELL: Thank you, Greta. Appreciate it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there is other breaking news about another state's battle to sue the federal government. The attorney general of Wisconsin, J.B. Van Hollen, just got blocked. State attorney general Van Hollen wants to sue the federal government but needs authorization from the Wisconsin state senate or the state assembly or the state's Democratic governor. Well, today the Democratic-controlled state senate rejected a resolution to authorize a lawsuit. We'll let you know the latest news as we get it out of Wisconsin.

And minutes ago, in the United States Capitol, a group of Republican congressmen stood up on the House floor to publicly state their support for the attorneys general and governors suing the feds. Texas congressman John Carter just spoke on the House floor. He joins us live.

Good evening, sir. And what prompted or provoked that taking to the floor and talking about your support for this lawsuit?

REP. JOHN CARTER, R - TEXAS: Hi. I got -- took the floor because I absolutely believe -- and I congratulate Governor Parnell for his stance that he's taking -- that the attorneys general across the country now in 20 states are standing up for freedom and liberty in this -- in this particular -- and fighting tyranny, as it was defined originally when our Founding Fathers gathered to write the Constitution. Imposing...


CARTER: ... a will that we don't have the authority to impose is stepping on everybody's toes.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, the states are the ones that have gone to court after the federal government has passed this. Who has joined you on the House floor tonight to show support for the states in their lawsuit?

CARTER: Well, tonight, I had my friend from Georgia, Phil Gingrey, join me on the floor of the House. Others were not there. So otherwise, I was speaking alone. But I will be joined by others as these -- as we continue to step up on the floor and speak positively about the actions the attorneys general take. You know, this -- our time around here is pretty dear, and the first night back, sometimes it's hard to gather a crowd.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you hope to achieve by taking to the floor? Because it's your body. It's your House of Representatives. I realize that you're a Republican, and this was a Democratic-controlled House that voted the bill initially. But what do achieve by going to the floor tonight?

CARTER: Well, I think it -- first, when you go to the floor, you talk to your colleagues and you talk to the American people. It gives you the opportunity to give your view of what we're talking about. And I made the argument tonight that we hear "no spin zones" and we hear "the spin stops here" and we hear that "the buck stops here." But the truth is, the spin stops with the United States Constitution and its interpretations. And now we've got 20 good lawyers, with good teams of lawyers behind them, going to court to present a position. And there'll be good lawyers on the other side. I believe in the system, as I'm sure you do, Greta, because I -- you know, I took an oath to defend it all my life. And I believe we will get a positive result because I believe this is carrying the commerce clause just too far.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, we've got 30 seconds left. I'm curious if any members of Congress, Democrats, come up to you and had any sort of buyer's remorse on voting for the health care bill, or are they more reinforced in their thinking that they did the right thing?

CARTER: I believe there's buyer's remorse, but I'm not going to disclose my friends that have said they're -- they've gone back home and didn't like the reception they've gotten. But overall, they're taking the position that the Obama administration is taking. And that is, they're trying to promote as many positive sides as they can. Unfortunately, I don't think it's being bought by the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

CARTER: Thank you.

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