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States’ Uprising: The Constitutionality of Health Care Reform

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Date and time
Friday, September 17, 2010

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher debate the constitutionality of The Patient Protection and Affordability Act and features. On March 23, 2010 President Barack Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordability Act, which represents the first comprehensive federal health care reform in the history of the United States. The legislation focuses on expansion of coverage and aims to improve the quality of the nation's health care system. But it is not without controversy. More than 20 states are challenging the constitutionality of the bill; Indiana is one of them. The state of Ohio supports the legislation.

Richard Cordray, J.D. was elected Ohio Attorney General in 2008. Since his election, he has sought to use the power of his office to speak up for ordinary citizens and to battle the ills that weaken our society. In the wake of the economic crisis, Cordray has taken action to hold Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing. His office is managing several major lawsuits against notable Wall Street firms such as AIG, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, and these efforts have resulted in more than $2.5 billion in settlements to date. Cordray aggressively pursues scammers who try to make a buck at the expense of Ohioans. He has filed dozens of cease and desist orders against foreclosure rescue scams, which exploit Ohio homeowners who are desperate for help. Ohio consumers filed a record number of consumer complaints with his office in 2009 – more than 30,000 of them – and the office responded by recovering millions in restitution, fines and other compensation. Cordray also opened the office’s consumer complaint process to small businesses and nonprofits for the first time, providing new tools to protect them against vendors that do not play by the rules. As one of Ohio’s leading law enforcement officials, Cordray has stressed the importance of working with local law enforcement agencies to fight crime and protect Ohioans. Under his administration and with the help of local law enforcement agencies, Ohio became the first state in the nation to fully implement the sex offender registration provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Act. Through the office’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Cordray and his staff have reduced the number of pending cases for laboratory and other tests that law enforcement officials and prosecutors rely on to make their cases and pursue justice for Ohioans. A strong advocate for veterans, Cordray proposed a service bonus for veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars. More than seven in 10 voters approved the bonus in November 2009. During his accomplished legal career, Cordray has personally argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Among them was a case he argued as attorney general in 2009, when he won a unanimous Supreme Court decision to reinstate the death sentence of a man convicted in a hate-inspired shooting spree that killed three people. Cordray previously served as Ohio treasurer, Franklin County treasurer, state representative and as Ohio’s first solicitor general. He also was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Byron White. For his service to Ohioans, Cordray has been honored with numerous awards, including the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s Henry B. Gonzalez Award for partnering with community nonprofits to help traditionally underserved people build wealth and economic opportunity; the Ohio Children’s Defense Fund’s Children’s Champion Award for fighting to ensure a level playing field for all children; the Vietnam Veterans of America Buckeye State Council’s Presidential Citation Award for supporting veterans; the Better Business Bureau Serving Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan’s Award of Appreciation for promoting an ethical marketplace; and the NeighborWorks America’s Government Service Award as the foremost national leader in state government for working to prevent foreclosures. Cordray earned a master’s degree with first-class honors from Oxford University in England and a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was editor of the Law Review. He lives near Grove City with his wife, Peggy, and their twins. His earliest claim to fame was as an undefeated five-time champion on the “Jeopardy!” TV show.
Thomas M. Fisher has served as an Indiana Deputy Attorney General since February 2001, and was named Indiana's first Solicitor General in July, 2005. Fisher has successfully defended Indiana's popular Do Not Call law in both state and federal court and has argued successfully in the Indiana Supreme Court for application of Indiana's auto-dialer law to political campaign calls. A two-time recipient of the National Association of Attorneys General Best Brief Award for excellence in U.S. Supreme Court brief writing, Fisher has argued three times before the High Court, most recently in 2008 when he successfully defended Indiana's Voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, and persuaded the Court to permit states to require mentally ill criminal defendants to have trial counsel in Indiana v. Edwards. He has also argued significant Indiana constitutional law cases involving abortion regulations, same-sex marriage, toll road leasing, educational funding, and attorney general authority over charitable trusts. Fisher has taught as an adjunct professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, is a frequent speaker at a variety of continuing legal education forums, and often addresses civic groups about the mission of the Office of the Attorney General, as well as his work as Solicitor General. In addition, Fisher writes a column on Seventh Circuit practice for the Appellate Advocate, newsletter published quarterly by the Indiana State Bar Association. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Fisher worked in private practice in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., and clerked for Judge Michael S. Kanne of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Fisher received a bachelor’s degree in 1991 from Wabash College, graduating with honors. He earned a law degree, also with honors, from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, in 1994. Originally from Remington, Indiana, Fisher resides in Indianapolis with his wife and their four children.