Georgia AG set to enter health care reform battle

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January 14, 2011

ATLANTA, Georgia: Almost immediately after he took the oath of office on an unusually cold and icy Monday, Republican State Attorney General Samuel S. Olens signed "off on a legal motion to join the legal challenge filed by Florida's top attorney," Pam Bondi, against the federal health care reform measure.[1]

This marks a dramatic shift from his Democratic predecessor, Thurbert E. Baker. The day after President Barack Obama signed into law the controversial health care overhaul bill, State Attorney General Baker turned down a request by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue to join at least fourteen other states in filing suit against the federal government in opposition to the measure. He said he did "not believe that Georgia has a viable legal claim against the United States" and that any litigative action would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.[2]

As a result, Governor Perdue, who is given the right within the state constitution to appoint a special attorney general with the exact same power and authority as the state attorney general in specific instances such as this, announced that was assembling a team of pro bono lawyers to serve in Baker's stead. Republican State Representative Ed Setzler threatened that "if Baker moves to block Perdue’s selection of an outside lawyer to act as a special attorney general some House Republicans may move forward with articles of impeachment;" Baker's office said he had no intention of doing so.[3] Regardless, on Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Republican State Representative Mark Hatfield filed a resolution to impeach Baker, who, he claims, "abdicated his authority and has committed an act against the state of Georgia."[4] Nothing came about the resolution, however.

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