Monday, April 19, 2010

"Difference of Opinion," Republican Gubernatorial Candidates' Delusion; Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Bill Frist, Gov. Phil Bredesen and Attorney General Bob Cooper have all said that it's pretty much impossible for the state to win any lawsuit it might file against the Federal government challenging the constitutionality of health care reform.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is undeterred.

"I'll just call it a difference of opinion," Ramsey said. "We're called the Volunteer State for a reason — we don't give up on a fight simply because there's a chance we could lose.

"That makes us want to fight even more."

Really?

In a year where people are facing 10 percent unemployment, another 10 percent under employment, where Republicans are pissed that the governor isn't cutting more jobs or pay for more people, Ramsey really believes that what Tennesseans want is for us to join a costly lawsuit we will more surely lose — when, if by chance, folks on his side did win, it would affect us whether we participated in the lawsuit or not?

I find that hard to believe. The people of Tennessee really want to spend money when we don't have to?

But this whole thing does bring up an interesting conundrum. Ramsey claims to be concerned about the U.S. Constitution and whether health care reform violates it. He claims to be so concerned that he wants to force the attorney general to file a lawsuit against the federal government.

What's interesting is that it would seem that this brings up an important question — why isn't Ramsey concerned about our state constitution? The attorney general is appointed by the Supreme Court: he's a member of the judicial branch of the government. Ramsey is a member of the legislative branch who is trying to become the head of the executive branch.

Our state constitution recognizes those as distinct branches of the government and clearly says, "No person or persons belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases herein directed or permitted" (Article II, Section 2). I've read and I don't see any place in the state constitution where the legislative branch is allowed to dictate to the judicial branch which specific cases it must take up.

Which raises the question: Could Ramsey's attempts to force the attorney general to take up this lawsuit in order to supposedly defend the U.S. Constitution cause a state-level constitutional crisis?

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