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Aaron Sharockman
By Aaron Sharockman March 23, 2010

Florida's Bill McCollum says health care lawsuit is bipartisan

Florida Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum says politics isn't the reason for his legal challenge to the landmark health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.

To help make the point, McCollum says the 22-page suit filed in a Pensacola federal court on March 23, 2010, is "bipartisan."

"This bipartisan effort by attorneys general around the country should put the federal government on notice that we will not tolerate the constitutional rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of our states to be trampled on," McCollum said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "This law represents an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of the American people, and I will pursue this litigation to the highest court if necessary."

The lawsuit argues that the federal government cannot impose taxes or financial penalties on someone who fails to have health insurance.

Given how polarized the health care debate has become, we wondered how "bipartisan" the suit truly was.

Thirteen attorneys general have signed on. They are:

Of that list, Caldwell of Louisiana is the lone Democrat. The rest are Republicans.

There is no hard and fast definition of bipartisan, but it's quite a stretch to say one out of 13 is bipartisan.

As a point of reference, consider two Congressional actions that are almost universally described as bipartisan -- the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the 1996 welfare overhaul.

Featured Fact-check

Ninety-eight Democrats and 230 Republicans voted for the welfare reform package in the U.S. House. Another 25 Democrats joined 53 Republicans voting for the bill in the U.S. Senate. No Child Left Behind passed 381-41 in the House with 183 Republicans and 198 Democrats voting for it. It passed 87-10 in the Senate with the support of 44 Republicans and 43 Democrats.

McCollum, who is running for governor, claims that his constitutional challenge of the landmark health care bill passed by Congress is a "bipartisan effort." That's pretty misleading when only one out of 13 attorneys general supporting the lawsuit is something other than a Republican. As such, we rate his claim Barely True.

Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.

Our Sources

Office of the Attorney General, "Florida Attorney General McCollum Sues Federal Government Over Health Care Reform Legislation," Press Release, March 23, 2010

Office of the South Carolina Attorney General, Lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum, March 22, 2010

New York Times, "Health Measure's Opponents Plan Legal Challenges,"  March 22, 2010

Campaign Web site, Bio of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster

Campaign Web site, Bio of Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning

Campaign Web site, Bio of Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott

Office of the Utah Attorney General, Bio of Mark Shurtleff

Office of the Louisiana Attorney General, Bio James D. "Buddy" Caldwell

Campaign Web site, Bio of Alabama Attorney General Troy King

Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Bio of Michael A. Cox

Office of the Colorado Attorney General, Bio of John W. Suthers

Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Bio of Thomas W. Corbett Jr.

Campaign Web site, Bio of Washington Attorney General Robert M. McKenna

Campaign Web site, Bio of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden

Campaign Web site, Bio of South Dakota Attorney General Marty J. Jackley

Library of Congress, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, vote results

Library of Congress, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, vote results

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Florida's Bill McCollum says health care lawsuit is bipartisan

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