Washington

This article is part of the State Status and News series related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A panel of “scholars” met at the University of Washington to discuss the PPACA litigation. Soon thereafter, the Democratic Party in the State of Washington began utilizing misinformation related to the state's PPACA litigation as part of efforts to discredit political opponents.

The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional.

But while the four panelists at a packed event Tuesday may have differed on some of the finer points, they all agreed on the big question: They said the new law passes constitutional muster and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite — including the one joined last week by state Attorney General Rob McKenna — have little merit or chance of success.

Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit. In fact, he questioned the timing and thrust of the cases: “One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise,” he said.

Moderator Hugh Spitzer noted the lack of a vigorous dissenting voice.

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The panelists seemed to agree that if any of the cases make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices would be hard-pressed to find the law unconstitutional, given some recent precedents they have set in other cases.

Yet anything is possible — and it all makes for a lively national debate.

McKay said it is an exciting time for anyone teaching constitutional law and that the confrontation over health care — including violence and threats of violence — raises the stakes for the nation.

Perry, Nick. “UW Panelists Say Lawsuits Challenging Health Bill Lack Merit”. Seattle Times. March 30, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-06.

On Monday, the state Democratic Party formally launched its Rob McKenna for Governor Web site attacking the record of the Republican attorney general whom they expect to run for governor in 2012.

As you may recall, Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times first reported development of the site before Dems had it ready to go.

Realizing their miscue, the Dems redirected everyone to McKenna's online home for his re-election as attorney general. They've since stopped that practice.

(By the way, if you go there today you can sign a petition supporting McKenna's decision to join the multi-state lawsuit against the federal health care law.)

Why Dems are doing this now is pretty obvious. They recognize McKenna will be a very tough candidate to beat if he runs for governor.

Officially, state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said the site is a “public service.”

“Our goal is to shine the light on the rise of an incredibly ambitious American politician, who is seeking to be Governor in 2012,” Pelz said in a prepared statement.

“The Right thinks he is Left. The Left thinks he is Right. Independents thought he was a Moderate and now they see him as a Tea Party Republican,” said Pelz. “People are confused, so we are providing this website as a public service, a One Stop Shop where you can go to learn the facts about Rob McKenna.”

“Democrats launch correct version of 'McKenna for Governor' Web site”. Everett Hearld. April 6, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-06.