John Suthers: More than 8,000 people sign petition protesting his decision to join health-care court challenge

Last week, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers joined a dozen peers around the country to sue the federal government in an effort to stop the new health-care law. "I understand that many citizens of Colorado will allege that this lawsuit is politically motivated. It is not. I am not reacting to any group or constituency," Suthers said at the time.

ProgressNow Colorado executive director Bobby Clark doesn't buy that -- and neither do the at least 8,448 people who've signed a petition protesting the move that will be delivered to Suthers' office at 10:30 a.m. today.

"This is the strongest, fastest response to a petition in the history of our organization," Clark says. "Clearly, people are really upset about this."

The volume of petition participation caught Clark by surprise. After all, he says, "we got a late start. He announced his decision a week ago Monday, and we weren't able to launch until last Saturday -- which is typically not a good time to launch, since people don't pay as much attention to their e-mails on the weekend. But we got a fantastic response right away."

The reason, in Clark's view?

"There's not a single credible nonpartisan legal scholar in the country that I'm aware of that thinks this lawsuit has merit," he maintains. "And the fact that all these AGs announced this decision so quickly after health care passed absolutely looks like a partisan effort to stop it by the next means available, which is a challenge in the courts. But it's a waste of taxpayer dollars."

Clark argues that Suthers has engaged in partisan activities in the past. For instance, Suthers said at a Araphaoe County Republican's Mens Club meeting in January that he might not support the reelection of three Colorado Supreme Court justices -- "the most non-right-wing members," by Clark's estimation.

"He's demonstrated his willingness to use his office for political purposes," he adds, "and he's doing it with Colorado taxpayer money in one of the worst economies in most of our lifetimes, when the state is desperate to conserve every dollar it can to ensure vital services for its citizens. It's reprehensible."

The group bringing the petition to Suthers' office won't be a large one, Clark says, but it represents concerned people throughout the state. "The fact that over 8,000 people have signed this shows that there's real energy in this state opposing Attorney General Suthers," Clark says, "and he needs to listen to them."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts