Suthers “heartened” after Supreme Court health care hearing

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John Suthers

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, one of 26 plaintiffs in the lawsuit to overturn President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, told FOX31 Denver he is “heartened” after hearing the Supreme Court justices question the attorney for the federal government in Washington Tuesday morning.

By all accounts, Tuesday’s oral arguments on the question of the law’s individual mandate, the provision that forces Americans to buy health insurance, signaled the central piece of the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment may be in serious jeopardy.

“I’ve been around way too long to make any predictions, but I was heartened by the nature of questions this morning,” Suthers told FOX 31 Denver in a phone interview. “The court was honing in the very questions we were asking two years ago.”

Suthers, a Republican, was among the first attorney generals to join the lawsuit taking issue with the individual mandate on the grounds that it is a clear overreach by the federal government of its Constitutional limitations to control interstate commerce.

“To sit in the courtroom today, after hearing the skeptics for two years, it was validating,” Suthers said.

“A lot of people think Justice Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote on this. And it felt good that the first question he asked was to the Solicitor General about does the federal government have the power to force you to buy a product that it can then regulate, which is the question we’re asking in this lawsuit.

“Then later he asked if they do, and asked the government to concede that that fundamentally alters the relationship between government and the individual for all time because we’ve never done that,” Suthers continued.

Many observers of the Court noted the tone of the questions from Kennedy and the other Justices betrayed a deep skepticism, and some, like CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, even went as far as to call the morning “a train wreck for the Obama administration.

“This law looks like it’s going to be struck down,” Toobin concluded.

Suthers wouldn’t go quite so far.

“Two years ago, I said I thought it’d be close. And I stick with that,” Suthers said. “I still think Kennedy is the swing vote.

“I’m not predicting he’s going one way or another, but I was very heartened by the questions he was asking.”