On the heels of a successful state-level resistance to the 2005 Real ID Act, activists and state legislators alike are focusing their efforts on state governments as a way to resist new federal programs.
The latest? Health Care.
In response to what some opponents see as a Congress that doesn’t represent their interests, State Legislators are looking to the nearly-forgotten American political tradition of nullification as a way to reject any potential national health care program that may be coming from Washington.
The most recent effort comes from Florida State Senator Carey Baker and State Representative Scott Plakon, who this week filed a proposed State Constitutional Amendment (HJR37) as a means to prevent Floridians from being affected by any Federal Health Care Legislation. If approved by the legislature, Florida residents could be voting on it as early as 2010.
HJR37 would deny the ability of any new law to impose demands, restrictions or penalties on health care choices on Floridians. Versions of proposed federal health care reform legislation have included insurance coverage mandates, and certain penalties on employers who fail to provide employee health insurance.
It states, in part:
(1) A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system
(2) A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services. A health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services.
A similar measure, called the Health Care Freedom Act, has already passed in Arizona, and residents of that state will have the opportunity to vote on it in 2010. Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center say that more than ten other states may see such proposals introduced in the coming session.
Some say that a federal program would raise serious constitutional concerns. They cite the Tenth Amendment as limiting the Federal Government to those powers delegated to it by the People in the Constitution.
When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.
Nullification has a long and interesting history in American politics, and originates in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. These resolutions, secretly authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, asserted that the people of the states, as sovereign entities, could judge for themselves whether the federal government had overstepped its constitutional bounds - to the point of ignoring federal law