A group of North Dakotans are requesting the state Supreme Court make North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem withdraw the state from a Texas case aiming to invalidate the Affordable Care Act.
In September, five petitioners represented by Bismarck attorney Thomas Dickson filed a petition for a writ of mandamus against Stenehjem in district court, requesting the same action.
Earlier this year, Stenehjem, representing North Dakota, joined 19 other states in a lawsuit before a Texas judge seeking to deem the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional by the end of the year. Dickson and petitioners have alleged this suit will harm thousands of North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions who rely on the act for guaranteed health care coverage.
Shortly after filing the first time, the district court scheduled a hearing for Oct. 29.
“Then, unbeknownst to us, somehow it mysteriously got moved to Nov. 26,” Dickson said. “I objected to it. They were going to reset it when, all of a sudden, the attorney general was too busy.”
“He wouldn’t be too busy to come to North Dakota if he wasn’t taking his orders from the walking bosses in Texas,” Dickson added.
An answer Stenehjem filed on Oct. 17 acknowledged the lawsuit against him was correct in saying he’s not licensed to practice law in the state of Texas, nor has he appointed anyone in Texas to represent his state.
“Stenehjem affirmatively alleges that he represents North Dakota in Texas and he is currently in compliance with local practices in the Northern District of Texas,” the answer said, denying claims that Stenehjem is letting non-appointed Texas attorneys represent North Dakota.
Stenehjem’s office declined to comment on the Supreme Court filing Thursday.
After filing, Dickson continued to allege Stenehjem “didn’t follow any of the rules” when the state joined Texas et al. v. United States of America. Additionally, Dickson said many North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions risk losing their health care if the Texas lawsuit succeeds.
“People in North Dakota with pre-existing conditions deserve insurance coverage, and the goal of that lawsuit is to do away with that protection by Dec. 31, 2018,” Dickson said. “This is a good fight for the people of North Dakota.”