I swear, Georgia Republicans have mashed their “stupid pedal” to the floorboard and it’s gotten stuck there.
First they tried to pass a constitutional amendment in the state Senate to declare that no Georgian could be mandated by government to buy health insurance, as if Georgia law could somehow supercede federal law. The amendment failed.
(The amendment was sponsored by state Sen. Judson Hill, who three years earlier had introduced legislation that would have — wait for it — forced Georgians to buy health insurance, even giving state officials the power to garnish wages of those who refused. At the time, Hill attributed the legislation to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now one of the sternest critics of “Obamacare”. In other words, mandated health insurance was a good idea until it became part of the Democratic health-reform bill, at which point it became unconstitutional and the most dire threat to American liberty since General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.)
Frustrated in the Senate, Republicans then tried to pass a similar constitutional amendment in the House.
They failed. Again.
Meanwhile, Gov. Sonny Perdue has been stamping his feet like a petulant three-year-old, insisting that Attorney General Thurbert Baker enlist Georgia in a lawsuit filed by 14 other states challenging the constitutionality of the health-reform bill. Baker refused, citing its cost and the exceedingly small chance of success.
“While I understand that the new law is the subject of ongoing debate here in Georgia and around the nation, I do not believe that Georgia has a viable legal claim against the United States,” Baker wrote Perdue. “Considering our state’s current severe budgetary crisis, with vital services like education and law enforcement being cut deeply, I cannot justify a decision to initiate expensive and time-consuming litigation that I believe has
no legal merit.”
Baker’s right. I’m no lawyer, but I’ve read my share of lawsuits. This one (available here) reads like a poorly drafted oped piece, not a legal argument. It cites no case law, no precedent. It is a multi-page whine. Most lawyers, conservative or liberal, agree that the argument behind it is absurd.
“The states cannot just say ‘not for us;’ that’s the theory that was around before the Civil War,” Harvard Law professor Charles Fried, the solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, has been quoted as saying. “It’s truly silly.”
Furthermore, adding Georgia to the list of states challenging the law would change absolutely nothing. The suit will succeed or fail — almost certainly the latter — on its merits. To hear House Majority Leader Jerry Keen wail that Baker’s decision is “pure politics,” as if the lawsuit itself was not motivated solely by politics, is to witness hypocrisy flowing pure and sweet from its source.
But all that may have been mere prelude. Still ahead may be the point that, stupid pedal to the metal, the GOP does its “Thelma and Louise” act, driving off the cliff and plunging into the abyss.
The latest rumor is, House members are circulating a resolution to impeach Baker. Seriously. And Perdue and Gingrich have called a press conference this morning, which I will be hastening to attend. The circus is in town and I’m gonna get a ticket.
However, I must say I’m encouraged by at least one thing. Here I was worried that our state leaders had an awful lot on their plate, what with trying to balance a devastated state budget and fix transportation and deal with the ongoing water crisis, etc. But apparently I was wrong. Apparently, our legislators and governor have so little to worry about here in the little state of Georgia, the piece of real estate over which they have real influence, that they feel free to divert a lot of their time, energy and intellect telling Washington what it ought to do.
Well, their time and energy anyway.