NASHVILLE - Gov. Phil Bredesen on Thursday defended State Attorney General Bob Cooper, saying he thinks Mr. Cooper "made the right call" in deciding that state legislation seeking to overturn the federal health care reform law is unconstitutional.
The Tennessee Health Freedom Act also sought to compel Mr. Cooper to file suit in federal court.
"I don't think we ever ought to be in a position where the Legislature or the governor is telling the attorney general what their position ought to be on these things," Gov. Bredesen told reporters. "Bob is a very competent lawyer. He has looked at it and come to the conclusion it is not a winnable case."
Mr. Cooper said in a recent legal opinion that the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause" trumps the states' rights under the 10th Amendment.
Gov. Bredesen, a Democrat, also said the issue is "being politicized across the country, and I think he (Mr. Cooper) made the right call."
Mr. Cooper has come under criticism from Republicans for ruling the Health Care Freedom Act unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, who is running to succeed Gov. Bredesen, recently passed a Senate resolution urging Mr. Cooper to sue the federal government.
On Thursday the House version of the Health Freedom Act was dealt a setback when Democrats succeeded in forcing the GOP-backed bill into the House Budget Subcommittee to examine its costs.
But some lawmakers think the bill will come back out with the support of House Speaker Kent Williams, a co-sponsor.
Meanwhile, Nashville public radio station WPLN on Thursday reported that former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said of the proposed legal challenge that "I don't think that's going to be successful."