Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate Found UnconstitutionalFri, Dec 20, 2019
Says, ‘It is important that the rule of law prevail.’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreeing with Arkansas’s arguments, made as part of an 18-state coalition, that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. The coalition’s lawsuit will continue to settle the question whether all of Obamacare must be struck down because the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
“The individual mandate is unconstitutional, and it is important that the rule of law prevail,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As the Supreme Court noted, the individual mandate was propped up by a tax that Congress rightfully removed in 2017, making the mandate unconstitutional. Now is the time for Congress to create a comprehensive healthcare law that will work with states and provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”
In 2012, a majority of the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare against a constitutional challenge because it said the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’s Tax Power. But a different majority also held that Congress did not have the power to create the individual mandate under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. As Chief Justice Roberts explained, and the four-justice dissent agreed, the Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce – but not to compel it, which is what the individual mandate does.
In 2017, Congress eliminated the tax portion of the individual mandate as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul. Rutledge then joined a multistate lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, arguing that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the Texas federal court agreed and ruled that the individual mandate was no longer valid under Congress’s Tax Power. Applying the Supreme Court’s 2012 holding that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause, Judge O’Connor struck it down as unconstitutional. He then ruled that Congress would not have passed Obamacare without the individual mandate because it was an essential part of the law. Therefore, he also invalidated the entire law.
Wednesday the Fifth Circuit affirmed Judge O’Connor’s ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. But the Fifth Circuit sent the case back to Judge O’Connor for him to provide additional support for his other ruling, that Congress would not have passed Obamacare without the individual mandate.
In addition to Arkansas, the coalition – led by Texas – includes the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia, along with the governor of Mississippi.
Rutledge Applauds Passage of Federal TRACED Act After Her Robocall Initiatives Took Effect this YearThu, Dec 19, 2019
Says, ‘law enforcement will have an additional tool to shut down these illegal calls.’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement praising the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.
“The unanimous Senate vote today is a welcome tool to help stop the incessant, irritating robocalls we all receive,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have led the charge in Arkansas to stop these illegal calls, but this is a national problem that needs multifaceted solutions. Arkansans and all Americans can find hope in knowing this legislation is heading to President Trump’s desk, and with his signature, law enforcement will have an additional tool to shut down these illegal calls.”
Rutledge led the fight against robocalls by working with state legislators to pass legislation to require telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.
Rutledge also joined a bipartisan, public/private coalition agreement with every state attorneys general and 12 phone companies earlier this year. The coalition adopted eight principals to fight illegal robocalls and pave the way for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.
Arkansans who would like to file a consumer complaint can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge Joins Bipartisan Coalition Calling for Fentanyl to Remain a Schedule I DrugThu, Dec 12, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined a bipartisan coalition of 56 attorneys general in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
“Fentanyl is an increasingly common, cheap and lethal drug,” Attorney General Rutledge said. “Its pain-relieving effects are greatly overshadowed by the overwhelming number of overdoses and addictions it has caused. Keeping its classification as Schedule I means that law enforcement and courts can bring criminal actions against those who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances.”
In the letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, a bipartisan bill.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to make any fentanyl-related substances a Schedule I Drug. This scheduling order is set to expire on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.
The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.
In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.
Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter.
With the support of every Attorney General including Arkansas’s, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions.
Attorney General Rutledge, 18-State Coalition Urges Supreme Court to Overturn Shutdown of PipelineTue, Dec 10, 2019
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced joining an 18-state alliance urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that unnecessarily blocked construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and impedes the nation’s economic growth.
“This pipeline is a vital source of energy and economic development for the entire country,” Attorney General Rutledge said. “It is critical the law is interpreted accurately as to not set a dangerous precedent that can slow future progress.”
The coalition’s amicus brief filed Monday argues the appeals court was inaccurate in ruling the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights-of-way through forestland beneath federal trails.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will transport natural gas through five West Virginia counties en route to Virginia and North Carolina. The halting of pipeline construction has cost jobs and lost revenue from income and property taxes.
If left intact, the attorneys general argue the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling would transform 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail into a near-impenetrable barrier to energy development – all due to a one-tenth mile crossing deep beneath the surface on a 600-mile pipeline.
If applied nationwide, the coalition argues the lower court decision would seal off more than 11,000 miles of federal trails from development and potentially disrupt the national power grid because of the chilling effect it could have on infrastructure investment.
Along with Arkansas, the West Virginia-led brief received support from Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Read a copy of the coalition’s brief here.
Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Fayetteville Police Officer Stephen CarrMon, Dec 9, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement in response to the death of Fayetteville Police Officer Stephen Carr, who died in the line of duty Saturday night.
“I was heartbroken to learn of the loss of Officer Carr,” Attorney General Rutledge said. “Our men and women in blue hold the line every day not knowing if they will safely return home. I send my deepest condolences to Officer Carr’s family and the entire Fayetteville Police Department. The loss of an officer is devastating for all Arkansans. Please keep our law enforcement family in your prayers.”
Hot Springs Village Man Faces 30 Counts of Child PornographyFri, Dec 6, 2019
Investigation and arrest made by AG’s Special Investigations Department
HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the charge and arrest of a Hot Springs Village man who faces 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a class C Felony.
Daniel Kimball, 55, was arrested Tuesday following a search warrant by the Attorney General’s Special Investigation Department (SID) and assisted by the Hot Springs Village Police. Agents seized a laptop, desktop computer, thumb drive, cell phone and tablet.
Kimball remains in the Garland County jail on a $50,000 bond. His court date is set for Dec. 23, 2019.
SID has certified law enforcement officers with jurisdiction throughout Arkansas. The agents are committed to protecting Arkansas’s children by investigating and arresting individuals who sexually exploit children online.
To report suspected child exploitation, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.