Tom Aswell of Eunice Today‘s Capital News Service is reporting that Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s decision to enter into a lawsuit opposing the recently-passed health care reform bill may have been as a result of a backroom budget deal he made with Governor Jindal:
It also turns out that he (Caldwell) may have been reluctant to become what he described as the “token Democrat” in the litigation, but was backed into a corner by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Caldwell and 12 Republican attorneys general joined in the lawsuit filed in Pensacola by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is taking the lead in the litigation filed only minutes after President Barack Obama signed it into law. Virginia’s attorney general, also a Republican, filed a separate suit challenging the constitutionality of the law.
Caldwell initially declined to comment on Louisiana’s participation in the lawsuit, saying that he anticipated a spokesperson would be appointed by the litigation group to address media inquiries. “It would not be appropriate for me to comment in the interim,” he said.
Three days later, however, he did issue a brief statement and his office said, “no other statements will be made.”
“As Attorney General, I am duty bound by my oath of office to pursue a request by the Governor of the state of Louisiana for legal assistance, so long as it has substantial legal merit.”
Some legal experts, according to the Associated Press, feel the lawsuit has dim prospects of success because, under the U.S. Constitution, federal laws prevail over state laws.
Caldwell said it was his decision to sign onto what he called Florida’s “well-drafted action” at the least cost to Louisiana in order to accomplish the same objective.
But his decision may not have been as willing as he attempted to make it appear.
In a subsequent address to employees of his office, the Attorney General said the decision was made more out of the necessity of saving jobs in his agency than any real hope—or desire—of overturning the health care law.
One employee said Caldwell, in a candid admission, claimed that a deal was made with Jindal. Under terms of that agreement, the governor would not make additional cuts in the attorney general’s budget if Caldwell joined in the litigation. Caldwell agreed to be the “token Democrat,” he said, so that he might save additional job cuts by an administration whose state goal is to reduce the number of state employees by as much as 5,000 per year over three years.