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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Most Frivolous Pro-Mandate Argument Of The Day

Marc Ambinder and Steve Benen have it all figured out. The lawsuits challenging the health care mandate obviously are frivolous because the Complaints filed do not contain any case authority supporting the claims.

Gotcha! Those dumb Republican lawyers obviously don't know what they're doing! They have no case!

Ambinder started it off, by relying on a comment by one of his readers:
Reading through the complaint filed by 13 state attorneys general, against the health reform legislation, reader @calchala was struck by something that wasn't there: the lack of any specific case citation to buttress the underlying claim that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to impose on individuals a mandate to buy health care and to punish those who don't by levying a fine.
Steve Benen then ran with it, linking to Ambinder's post and an anonymous Tweet (click on the links in the quote):

I saw a report the other day that 13 state attorneys general who are challenging the law, questioning the constitutionality of the individual mandate, failed to include "any specific case citations to buttress the underlying claim that it is unconstitutional." A.L. took a look at the lawsuit and concluded, "It is beyond frivolous. I can't believe actual lawyers are willing to sign it." ...

If there were any justice, these attorneys general would face a voter backlash for participating in such a wasteful stunt.

WARNING: Do not rely on anonymous comments and tweets for legal reasoning.

There is no requirement that a Complaint cite case law, and indeed it would be unusual if not improper to include case citations in a Complaint.

That's why we have these things called "Briefs." Perhaps you have heard of them. Briefs are the place where lawyers cite case law, statutes, rules, regulations and all other sorts of fun legal stuff supporting their case.

The Complaint merely is a jurisdictional document meant to put the opponent on notice of the claims. Here is the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a):

A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:

(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

That's all you have to include (exceptions to this general standard don't apply here).

There is a frivolous argument here, and it is that the failure to cite case authority in a Complaint reflects on the merits of the Complaint.

Get these guys some lawyers, quick, before they embarrass themselves.

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  1. Brilliant.

    According to their logic, ANY case which has no precedent would be thrown out.

    I hereby declare myself Emperor of America, and void the entire American legal system, replacing it instead with the authority to declare whatever I damn well please, including the aforementioned.

    There has never been a case that went to court claiming that I, Grand Emperor Obvious the First, have no constitutional authority to void the entire legal system and grant myself self-fulfilling authority to do so.

    As there is no case history to cite, even if they believe that the now voided legal system is somehow still valid, any suit to oppose me within that system by their own standard, would be frivolous and dismissed.

    I now decree that Ambinder and Benen must perform gratuitous sexual acts with themselves.... unceasingly.

    Bow and scrape before my magnificence!

  2. @Captain Obvious: snort!

    thanks for a much-needed laugh.

    back to the trenches. . .

  3. I take it that they have not heard of the 1930s case of United States vs. Butler. It should be the start of the case law that is relevant... and FDR lost....

  4. Um...

    As an attorney myself, I figure you'd have a very hard time citing to case-law for precedent on a matter that is...um...unprecedented.

  5. Um...

    As an attorney myself, I'd have a hard time citing to precedent in a matter that was...ah...unprecedented....

  6. Heh. And people say that law isn't entertaining!

  7. Teh stupid... it huuuuurts!

    Good Lord, are there no limits to the ignorance of the left? There are no laws saying I have to eat Brussels Sprouts every day either. Does that mean the government can force that mandate on me?

  8. Truly funny post! If these clowns were associates in my office, I'd recommend having them publicly caned in the main conference room as an example to the other associates. And now I have to expand my "don't cite to Wikipedia" directive to include tweets. What a world.

  9. Thank you for clarifying that a bit for non-lawyers. :)

  10. Not only would it be unusual for case law to be cited in a complaint, in Connecticut (and perhaps other places?) doing so will get your complaint stricken by the judge. Unless of course, your opposing counsel is as stupid as this guy, in which case, cite away!!! And throw some legal conclusions and findings of fact for the jury to follow while you are at it. Moron.

  11. "WARNING: Do not rely on anonymous comments and tweets for legal reasoning."

    Wikipedia is still okay, right?

  12. hungry i - I cited wiki just this week ... but I made a disclaimer first. There is a precedent for no precedent - Obama as president without a birth certificate is without precedent which means, I guess, we have no President.

  13. "Get these guys some lawyers, quick, before they embarrass themselves"--------too late.

  14. On nos! No one has ever done the original scientific experiment that I am working on! My data will be false! ARRRRG!

  15. are these people in congress by any chance? LOL!