ADF joins lawsuit against RI governor’s power grab

Gov. Chafee sidestepped General Assembly to create pro-abortion health exchange for ObamaCare
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ADF attorney sound bite:  Casey Mattox

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Alliance Defense Fund has joined a lawsuit against R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee for overstepping his authority by creating a health exchange for ObamaCare that funds elective abortions contrary to state law.

The amended complaint filed in the lawsuit Tuesday explains that the power to create the exchange, a set of state approved and regulated insurance plans eligible for federal subsidies, lies solely with the people through their representatives in the General Assembly. ADF attorneys are co-counsel together with lead attorney Joe Larisa in representing Rhode Island Right to Life and 38 state legislators.

“No one should force Rhode Islanders to subsidize other people’s abortions under the guise of health care reform, especially through illegitimate, extra-constitutional methods,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “The responsibility to define and create these exchanges lies solely with the people through the General Assembly. The governor cannot circumvent state lawmakers simply because the majority of them want to maintain longstanding prohibitions against the use of taxpayer dollars for elective abortions.”

When concerns about taxpayer-subsidized abortion coverage prevented the General Assembly from reaching agreement on an exchange last year, Chafee unilaterally created one himself without including the traditional restrictions on abortion subsidies.

“It is a fundamental principle of both American and Rhode Island constitutional law that the legislature enacts the laws and the governor executes them,” Larisa explained. “Until this order, no other governor has attempted to create a health care exchange without the legislature’s approval. Gov. Chafee is brazenly attempting to evade the state constitution and members of the General Assembly, each of whom has the constitutional right to vote on how any exchange should be created, managed, and limited.”

Rhode Island Right to Life originally filed its lawsuit, Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee v. Chafee, in Rhode Island Superior Court on Dec. 1 of last year after Chafee issued an executive order to create the exchange unilaterally.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.