States Seek to Nullify ObamaCare

Our Founding Fathers set out to create the freest nation known to man. These brave men rejected the tyrannical rule of King George III by signing the Declaration of Independence. The Founders later wrote the Bill of Rights which lists our natural rights in order to set limitations on the power of the federal government. 

America was founded on the principle of federalism. The so-called anti-federalists who pushed for a Bill of Rights strongly believed in a decentralized government where power was divided between federal and state governments. The federal government only has about thirty enumerated powers delegated to it in the Constitution.  

According to the Tenth Amendment, any issue not found in the U.S. Constitution should be left up to individual states to decide. It clearly reads that, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” 

Nearly 250 years later, the United States has gone grossly astray from the Founding Father’s vision. The federal government is involved in nearly every aspect of our daily lives from what foods we put into our bodies to what we’re allowed to watch on television. We have elected officials in Washington such as Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) who claims that “the federal government can do most anything in this country.” Even though former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took an oath to defend the Constitution, she asked a reporter if he was serious when he asked where specifically the Constitution grants Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate.

Congress violates the Constitution virtually every day while in session. Both parties are to blame. Many states are fed up and are fighting back against unconstitutional federal laws such as ObamaCare. With a Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama still in the White House, it will prove an arduous task to get ObamaCare repealed through congressional action in Washington, D.C. anytime soon. As it currently stands, a total of 27 states have filed suit against ObamaCare. Thus far, two federal judges have upheld ObamaCare’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance while two others have ruled it unconstitutional.

The individual health insurance mandate is clearly unconstitutional. Just as the anti-federalists feared, many people have misinterpreted the commerce clause in the Constitution to justify expansion of federal power at the expense of the states. The original intent of the commerce clause was to promote trade and exchange between states. It was surely never meant to force individuals to buy health insurance simply because they exist.

Historian and author of Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, Dr. Tom Woods writes that the “If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions’ authors (Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, respectively), it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power.” There is a conflict of interest with the federal court arbitrating disputes between the states and the federal government over the constitutionality of the federal government’s action. 

Just like Jefferson feared, the Supreme Court has a history of siding with the federal government instead of the states. The unfortunate truth is that the Supreme Court has upheld many unconstitutional federal laws. As Andrew Nappi of the Florida Tenth Amendment Center says “this would be like having your ex’s mother as the final judge on the structure of your divorce settlement.”

Various states are taking another approach to defeat ObamaCare. These states are considering the idea of nullification. Idaho Governor Otter recently said “we are actively exploring all our options – including nullification.” State nullification is the idea that states can refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both spoke of the favor of nullification. In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote “whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers….a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.” Likewise, James Madison said that states were “duty bound to resist” every time the federal government violated the Constitution.

Some states aren’t waiting for the outcomes of federal lawsuits in federal courts. They’re simultaneously attempting to make ObamaCare void in their state legislatures. According to the Tenth Amendment Center, “nullification is a tool in the bag of those who want to dam the river of government expansion. It has been used before, and to good ends.” Thus far, 12 states have introduced similar versions to the Federal Health Care Nullification Act drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center this year. These bills either fully nullify or refuse compliance with ObamaCare. The Federal Health Care Nullification Act introduced in Texas (HB297), Montana (SB161), Wyoming (HB0035), Oregon (HB498) and Maine (LD558) all state that ObamaCare is  “hereby declared to be invalid, shall not be recognized, is specifically rejected, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect.” Idaho recently passed HB 298 which is nicknamed the “grandson of nullification.”

The 10th amendment is making a roaring comeback. Nullification has recently been used to stop federal gun laws, the Real ID and federal drug laws. Five states have introduced bills to nullify any legislation from the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) regulating greenhouse gases and the “Food Safety and Modernization Act.” In his book, Tom Woods explains that nullification has been used throughout history to support free speech, free trade and unconstitutional searches and seizures. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin used nullification to declare the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional. 

The federal government has overstepped its constitutional limits. We can put an end to the federal government takeover of our healthcare system and other unconstitutional federal initiatives. With so many states fighting back against ObamaCare, it should send a clear message to the Obama administration. We the people do not want ObamaCare forced upon us.