Lawsuit Challenging Arizona's Medicaid Expansion Has No Merit, Says Governor's Lawyers

Arizona lawmakers on the losing side of the Medicaid expansion vote have no legal authority to stop the new law that broadens eligibility for low-income residents, attorneys for Gov. Jan Brewer argued in a court filing Wednesday.
October 4, 2013
 

Arizona lawmakers on the losing side of the Medicaid expansion vote have no legal authority to stop the new law that broadens eligibility for low-income residents, attorneys for Gov. Jan Brewer argued in a court filing Wednesday.

Brewer’s attorneys asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper to dismiss the lawsuit, filed last month by the conservative Goldwater Institute, saying the court should not get involved in a legislative dispute.

The Republican lawmakers “are a disgruntled faction within the Legislature that was outvoted by a bipartisan coalition,” wrote Douglas Northrup, an attorney with Fennemore Craig. “Legislators’ alleged injury is a loss of legislative and political power.”

Three other plaintiffs — two constituents and the state director of Americans for Prosperity — also lack authority to sue, he argued, largely because they can’t show they’ve suffered any harm from the portion of the law that’s being challenged, which is an assessment on hospitals to help pay for expansion.

“If the court found that standing to challenge a law’s constitutionality is found with such tenuous allegations of injury, every constituent whose legislator voted against an allegedly unconstitutional bill would have standing,” Northrup wrote.

He argued that the Arizona Supreme Court recognized the limits of legislative standing in a 2003 case, ruling that individual legislators did not have authority to challenge then-Gov. Janet Napolitano’s line-item veto authority.

Goldwater Institute lawyers claim the law is unconstitutional because pro-expansion legislators failed to muster a two-thirds majority for its passage and improperly ceded authority to the executive branch. The Goldwater lawyers represent all but two of the 38 lawmakers who voted against the law, which is to take effect Jan. 1.

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