Friday March 19, 2010

Virginia, Idaho Herald War of the States against Federal Government over Health Care

By Peter J. Smith

BOISE, Idaho, March 19, 2010 ( – Virginia and Idaho have now taken the lead among U.S. states in the fight against national health care, with the two states having successfully enacted laws empowering their attorneys general to sue the federal government for trying to force their respective residents to buy health insurance.

On Wednesday, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the Idaho Health Freedom Act into law, during the first public ceremony for this year’s 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 told reporters.

Otter issued an executive order mandating the state attorney general defend the law and take action against the U.S. government if health care reform is passed. He said that while opponents may scoff at the Act, he believed litigation would have a chance at success, since thirty-six other states are considering similar legislation. “That’s a critical mass. That’s a constitutional mass,” he added.

Virginia fired the first warning shot against the federal government last week, by becoming the first state to pass a bill declaring any federal mandate to require individuals to purchase health insurance null and void in the Commonwealth. The bill became law without the signature of Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli officially warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that his state will fill a constitutional challenge to the health care bill, if she and the Democratic leadership decide to ram the bill through using Rep. Slaughter’s “deem and pass” parliamentary rule. Under this scheme House representatives will only vote on a reconciliation “fix” package to the Senate health bill, and will not vote on the Senate bill itself. Once the “fix” package is passed, the Senate bill will simply be “deemed” passed by the House.

“Should you employ the deem and pass tactic, you expose any act which may pass to yet another constitutional challenge,” said Cuccinelli. He cited Supreme Court precedent in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), which he stated required that for a law “to be validly enacted, the Senate bill would have to be accepted by the House in a form that is word-for-word identical.”

States confronting the federal government directly would also invoke their rights guaranteed by Amendment X of the US Constitution. It states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”


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