States pushing back against ObamaCare mandates

Posted by: ST on March 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

The Associated Press reports that states all across the country are pushing back against healthcare “reform,” specifically in response to the possibility that their residents and businesses could be forced into buying health insurance by the federal government (via MM):

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on Wednesday became the first state chief executive to sign a measure requiring his attorney general to sue Congress if it passes health reforms that force residents to buy insurance. Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states nationwide.

Constitutional law experts say the move is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states. But the movement reflects a growing national frustration with President President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Democrats are hoping to pass a version of the reform by this weekend.

Last week, Virginia legislators passed a measure similar to Idaho’s new law, but Otter was the first state chief executive to sign such a bill, according the American Legislative Exchange Council, which created model legislation for Idaho and other states. The Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit group promotes limited government.

“Congress is planning to force an unconstitutional mandate on the states,” said Herrera, the group’s health task force director.

Otter, a Republican, already warned U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in December that Idaho was considering litigation if health reform went through. He signed the bill during his first such public ceremony of the 2010 Legislature.

“What the Idaho Health Freedom Act says is that the citizens of our state won’t be subject to another federal mandate or turn over another part of their life to government control,” Otter said.

These types of bills may be more symbolic in nature than anything else, but they send a powerful message to the Obamacrats in Washington, DC on behalf of the people who live in those states that health insurance mandates and fines are not welcomed:

These state laws would directly conflict with the national health care bill that Democrats are trying to pass, which includes a requirement that all individuals get health coverage or face a tax penalty.

Several legal analysts said if Congress enacts a national health care law, it would supersede any state laws written to block them.

“I think most of the states that are passing these laws understand that they can’t trump federal law with state law,” said Professor Jonathan Siegel at George Washington University Law School. “But what they get out of it is symbolic effect. They’re sending a message to the federal politicians that they don’t like the health care mandate.”

Such state laws might not be the only legal challenge to Democratic health care legislation.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican, on Tuesday sent a letter to the other 49 state attorneys general, asking them to join him “in preparing a legal challenge to the constitutionality of whatever individual mandate provision emerges, immediately upon the legislation becoming law.”

To view the bill signed into law by Otter, click here. The Virginia bill is here.

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17 Responses to “States pushing back against ObamaCare mandates”


  1. Eric says:

    Such measures may be more than symbolic, if the 10th Amendment means anything at all, despite what liberals would have us believe.

  2. Kate says:

    …health care is a good not a right.

    Reform is one thing, mandates are completely different. The facts are being withheld until the last minute, so what are we not seeing.

    Obama and all his minions have stated in the past that this is just the start…that it will be the springboard of universal/government run health care i.e. the Canadian System. You can’t get any plainer than that…they are playing with a marked deck!

  3. WR says:

    Good reason why we should go back to electing US Senators by state legislatures and not popular vote. Theoretically, states could then recall maverick senators. It would take an Amendment to the US Constitution to change the way Senators are elected, and should include specifically the right of states to recall them at their pleasure.

  4. Carlos says:

    It’s not what the liberals would have us believe that counts, Eric, it’s what a spineless judiciary that doesn’t understand the English language would have us believe.

    And, Ann Coulter has an excellent column on health care reform on today. Worth the read.

  5. Anthony says:

    The ninth and tenth amendments have been historically weak in American con law (in part, regarding the Xth, because defenders of slavery and Jim Crow hid behind federalism), but this may be a time when both, especially the tenth, get some new life*. Any actions will have to be on the constitutionality of the bill and the process that enacts it. States can’t simply say “nuh-uh.”

    As an aside, a very conservative friend who lives in Boise described the governor as a “buffoon,” but he’s very glad he signed the bill. Like you, ST, I think these bills are more symbolic, but symbols can send an important signal – if anyone is listening is another question.

    *(Ironically, citing the 9th amendment (unenumerated rights reserved to the people) was one of the key arguments in the majority opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, the contraceptives case that laid the groundwork for the later Roe v. Wade. )

  6. Paul in N.AL says:

    Actually I think if enough states pass laws like this, it does in fact overturn federal law and becomes the new federal law itself. Its one of the other ways to pass a law, besides going through Congress.

  7. GJMerits says:

    The liberal professor is wrong and regurgitating the typical position of liberals. The Supreme Court is NOT the final arbiter of the constitution – the states are. It is time we started to understand that.

    Nullification – Our Constitutional Option: LINK

    Let the “professor” deny the facts. The typical laughable retort is predictable. The courts have ruled against it. Huh? The federal courts have ruled in favor of federal power? Just remember this. The sovereignty of the British at the time of the Revolutionary war was in the Parliament. When we won, do you think it was our founders intention to concentrate that much power in a national centralized government? Now, years later, a tiny island off the coast of France has been replace by a tiny city called Washington DC. We are back where we started, serving under serfdom, and the victims of tyranny. Sorry professor Siegel but your dead wrong.

    This is only symbolic if we continue to live under the illusion the federal powers trump the states powers – they do not. Just take a good look around The Tenth Amendment Center. Education and information – the real kind – is something the federal powers are praying you never figure out.

  8. Eric says:

    Good points, all. Ultimately, sovereign authority rests with the People, and they empower the three branches of federal government with some (not all) of that authority in their name.

  9. Dave B says:

    I think these states actions are not only symbolic, they will force the highest court in the land to address the constitutionality of the premise that forcing citizens to purchase a specific good on the federal level is constitutional. It also bolsters civil actions and the neccessities for injunction requests. The tenth amendment is powerful. The state courts will be the first to rule on the constitutionality of a federal mandate on its citizens.

  10. Anthony says:


    Actually I think if enough states pass laws like this, it does in fact overturn federal law and becomes the new federal law itself. Its one of the other ways to pass a law, besides going through Congress.

    No, that’s absolutely wrong. You will find no provision for that in the Constitution. I think your mistaking it for Article V, which covers the amendment process and allows the states to call conventions to consider specific amendments (including, I assume, amendments that invalidate statutes).

    Interestingly, among the amendments offered in a proposed Bill of Federalism is one that reads as follows:

    Article [of Amendment 6] [Power of States to Check Federal Power] Upon the identically worded resolutions of the legislatures of three quarters of the states, any law or regulation of the United States, identified with specificity, is thereby rescinded.

    I have very mixed feelings about this, though not as much as originally, since the 3/4ths provision was added. (Fair disclosure, I was one of several who proposed that change.)

  11. Chris says:

    If Obamacare is passed this weekend, this will be the most horrific, devistating, and corrupt mess of legislature ever passed in the history of this once-great United Styates of America. I am more disgusted and frustrated with my government today than at anytime in my 52 years. I do believe that our current health care system needs revision, but Obamacare has very little to do with health care reform! It is more of a left-hook power-play against the people which will grow our corrupt government even further out of our control.

  12. Carlos says:

    So, Anthony, what you’re saying is that we (the people who’ve entrusted our government to thieves and thugs) have to start a constitutional convention in all 50 states, with the hope that at least 38 of them a green light to a proposed amendment to repeal this specific law.

    If I remember correctly, though, once a constitutional convention is called there is nothing to stop those attending from introducing additional measures ad nauseum, and that could very easily be done by jackasses with the specific aim of getting people so frustrated they give up, especially in states like California, Oregon and Washington.

    Seems to me it would be easier to get the votes in Congress to pass a bill to the states to vote on (a traditional method), and thereby avoiding some pitfalls.

    But on the other hand, how anxious is Congress to hand that kind of power to the states?

  13. Anthony says:


    …what you’re saying is that we … have to start a constitutional convention in all 50 states, with the hope that at least 38 of them a green light to a proposed amendment to repeal this specific law.

    That’s so far the only way for states to undo federal law. That was settled way back in the Nullification Crisis.

    The question of the scope of a convention (Is it limited to what it was called for, or can it rewrite the document wholesale) is apparently debatable, and I’m no scholar.

    Might be worth reading up on. :)

  14. Kate says:

    So how did the ERA ever get proposed in order to amend the Constitution…do you remember way back when? I have to check that out to see what the scope that thing entailed.

  15. Anthony says:


    So how did the ERA ever get proposed in order to amend the Constitution…

    By the process specified in Article V: passed by 2/3rds votes in both Houses of Congress and then sent to the state legislatures for ratification.