Three GOP candidates for the Louisiana Supreme Court told a room full of Republicans on Tuesday that while they don’t support the new national health-care revamp, the U.S. Supreme Court was correct in finding the law constitutional.
Overturning the Affordable Care Act, which many critics call Obamacare after the president, would have amounted to “judicial activism” for unilaterally negating a law that majorities in both houses of Congress approved, agreed 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judges Toni M. Higginbotham, of Baton Rouge; Jeff Hughes, of Walker, and Duke Welch, of Baker.;
The three members of the 12-member appellate court in Baton Rouge have officially announced they are running for the 5th District seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball, of Ventress.
All are Republicans. First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge John Michael Guidry, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, also is a candidate but did not appear before the Ronald Reagan Newsmakers Luncheon, sponsored by the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Woody Jenkins, head of the parish Republicans, told the approximately 45 people attending the luncheon forum that judges are unable to discuss issues that might come before their court. But, by discussing the recent controversial health-care decision and other federal cases, the candidates could show voters how they view complex legal issues, Jenkins said.
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been the target of much criticism in the conservative community for joining the more-liberal members of the nation’s highest court and providing the deciding vote that found the Affordable Care Act constitutional.
Though each Louisiana Supreme Court candidates voiced problems with specific findings in the June 28 opinion that Roberts wrote for the 5-4 majority, all three agreed legally with the ultimate decision.
Hughes said, “Even though we all may not be in favor of Obamacare, in this case, it was passed by Congress. It is not the job of judges to change or overturn a law that has been passed by the legislature unless there is a constitutional reason.”
“He did what he thought was right,” Welch said. “If I could explain it to you in a really simple way: Justice Roberts says just because you don’t eat broccoli, the federal government can’t make you eat broccoli. But if the federal government chooses to tax you for not eating broccoli, they can.”
“The message from the court is that, ‘We’re not going to rewrite health care. It’s not our job. Legislature, you take this and you decide,’” Higginbotham said, adding that Republicans need to follow up and elect candidates committed to overturning the health-care program.
“We need to do whatever we need to do to have Congress repeal it,” Higginbotham said.
Kimball announced she would retire after 20 years on the court. Her last day on the job will be Jan. 31.
Gov. Bobby Jindal called a special Nov. 6 election for the 5th District seat on the state’s highest court. If no candidate wins outright, the runoff election would be held Dec. 1.
Candidate qualifying will run Aug. 15-17.
The state Supreme Court’s 5th District includes Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes.