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May 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM

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Judge denies injunction in health-care lawsuit against Rob McKenna

Armstrong ruling

A judge dealt an initial defeat Tuesday morning to plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna violated his ethical duties while participating in the multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn President Obama's health-care overhaul.

King County Superior Court Judge Sharon Armstrong denied a request for a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs which would have required McKenna to change his legal tune in the case by filing amended briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs, dozens of women represented by attorneys allied with the Democratic Party, had argued McKenna should be required to argue to the Supreme Court what he has said publicly - that the entire Affordable Care Act should not be struck down if the high court invalidates its controversial requirement that most adults maintain private health insurance.

Armstrong rejected that request, noting that McKenna had maintained a "consistent legal position" in the case by signing his name to briefs that seek to overturn the entire health-care law.

McKenna's public statements that he wants the individual mandate overturned - and not more popular provisions such as prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for preexisting medical conditions - were merely "political statements" by an elected official, Armstrong ruled.

"The Court lacks authority to second-guess the attorney general's legal strategy in the health care reform litigation, whatever the wisdom of his legal strategy. Plaintiffs do not establish that Attorney General McKenna's legal strategy is arbitrary or capricious," Armstrong's ruling said.

In a news release, plaintiffs said the lawsuit was "far from over." They noted a preliminary injunction is hard to obtain and said the case will go on. They're seeking to show McKenna violated his ethical duties by saying he supports part of the health-care law while arguing in court to overturn all of it.

Republicans have dismissed the case as a political attack, noting attorney Knoll Lowney's history of election-year lawsuits against high-profile Republican candidates, including Dino Rossi and Mike McGavick.


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This table shows campaign contributions to each gubernatorial candidate. Gov. Chris Gregoire's funds are from before she declared she isn't running again. Click here for more info on other races.

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