CHARLESTON - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday the state filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging President Barack Obama's practice of "cherry-picking" which laws his administration will enforce.
In a press release Tuesday, Morrisey said the lawsuit alleges the president and his administration have repeatedly demonstrated they will change or ignore certain laws or statutes to promote or protect their political agenda.
The lawsuit cited alleged instances where the administration has ignored the law on immigration matters, environmental and mining regulations and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said many in West Virginia believed that the state would be negatively impacted by Obama's policies, even before he took office. She is pleased the attorney general's office has taken the steps it has, she said Tuesday evening.
"More power to the attorney general's office. I hope he's successful," she said.
State Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, said he supports the attorney general's actions.
"The president has been very loose with the Constitution," Nohe said. Nohe said it was time some of the president's actions come before a court to see if everything he is doing is legal.
"I think it would be interesting to see what a court would say," he said.
Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, said he understands the frustrations involved because of the gridlock in Washington - including the Democrats and Republicans and the president and Congress - but felt that if everyone were doing their jobs, the lawsuit would not be necessary.
"The President cannot pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore on the basis of political convenience," Morrisey said in the press release. "West Virginia knows first-hand the consequences that the administration's illegal and flawed interpretation of the law can have on our coal mining jobs. This lawsuit simply asks the Court to require the Obama Administration to follow the laws and restore the constitutional boundaries on presidential authority.
"Unfortunately, the President has shown time and again that he is willing to ignore or go around Congress to promote his agenda, and that can't continue. Prevailing in this lawsuit will help our state's efforts to limit the President's activities in important areas that have painful implications on coal miners and West Virginia's economy," he said.
The lawsuit challenges the president's decision last fall to suspend the enforcement of ACA requirements for existing health care policies and place that burden on the states. At the time, Obama said he wanted to be able to say that "the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan," the suit states.
"We believe the President's actions here have uniquely harmed States," Morrisey said. "The Administrative Fix's purpose was to shift the political accountability and discretion over enforcement of certain federal laws from the federal government to the States. This burden on the States gives us standing to sue to vindicate the rule of law in this case.
"Congress controls the pen for writing, editing or striking laws, not the President," Morrisey said. "Yet we see this President regularly making up his own rules for government, be it by ignoring immigration laws or imposing new regulations that could cripple the coal and natural gas industries."
Morrisey stressed that the lawsuit does not ask for health care plans to be terminated. Rather it asks the court to force the Obama Administration to follow and respect plainly written laws and the Constitution.
"The President has brazenly declared that he will continue to ignore the law when it comes to regulating the use of coal, the ACA, immigration or any other issue he deems inconvenient, and he has dared those who disagree to 'sue me.' We have accepted the President's invitation," Morrisey said.
The lawsuit, State of West Virginia ex rel. Patrick Morrisey v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and has been assigned Civil Action No.14-1287.
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said he supports the lawsuit. He said members of the House will take the same action today.
"This is about defending the Constitution and not promoting a political agenda," he said.