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Attorneys general from 13 states sue federal government

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Attorneys general from 13 states sued the federal government yesterday, claiming the landmark health care overhaul is unconstitutional, just seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed it into law.

The lawsuit was filed in Pensacola after Obama signed the 10-year, $938-billion bill the House passed Sunday night.

"The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage," the lawsuit says.

Legal experts say it has little chance of success.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. All except James Caldwell of Louisiana, a Democrat, are Republicans.

Some states are considering separate lawsuits. Virginia filed its own yesterday, and still others may join the multistate suit. In Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, a Christian legal advocacy group, sued on behalf of itself and four people it says don't have private health insurance and object to being told they have to purchase it.

McCollum, who is running for governor, argues the bill will cause "substantial harm and financial burden" to the states.

State Sen. Dan Gelber, a Democrat running for McCollum's job, said the lawsuit is nothing more than a stunt to gain political points as McCollum runs for governor. "It is rank politics and nothing but," said Gelber, noting that 4 million Floridians don't have health insurance.

The lawsuit claims the bill violates the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government has no authority beyond the powers granted to it under the Constitution, by forcing the states to carry out its provisions but not reimbursing them for the costs.

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