by Michael Boldin
Right on the heels of a successful state-by-state nullification of the 2005 Real ID act, the State of Arizona is out in the forefront of a growing resistance to proposed federal health care legislation.
This past Monday, the Arizona State Senate voted 18-11 to concur with the House and approve the Health Care Freedom Act (HCR2014).Â This will put a proposal on the 2010 ballot which would constitutionally override any law, rule or regulation that requires individuals or employers to participate in any particular health care system.
HCR2014, if approved by voters next year, also would prohibit any fine or penalty on anyone or any company for deciding to purchase health care directly. Doctors and health care providers would remain free to accept those funds and provide those services.
Finally, it would overrule anything that prohibits the sale of private health insurance in Arizona.
Five other states — Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming — are considering similar initiatives for their 2010 ballots.
Real ID as the Blueprint?
While some constitutional experts are skeptical of the effect that such legislation could have, supporters can point to the successful campaign to oppose the Real ID Act.
In early 2007, Maine and then Utah passed resolutions refusing to implement the federal Real ID act on grounds that the law was unconstitutional.Â Well-over a dozen more states followed suit in passing legislation opposing Real ID.
Instead of attempting to force the law to implementation, the federal government delayed implementation not once, but twice, and additional statesÂ got on board with legally-binding legislation refusing Real ID implementation.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration, recognizing the insurmountable task of enforcing a law in the face of such broad resistance, announced that it was looking to “repeal and replace” the controversial law.
When a state â€˜nullifiesâ€™ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or â€˜non-effectiveâ€™, 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 states, as sovereign entities, could judge for themselves whether the federal government had overstepped its constitutional bounds, to the point of ignoring federal laws.
Virginia and Kentucky passed the resolutions in response to the federal Alien and Sedition Acts, which provided, in part, for the prosecution of anyone who criticized Congress or the President of the United States.
Historian Thomas E. Woods looks at nullification as a constitutional “check,” and a way to prevent one government from having the power to rule on the limits of its own authority:
â€œThe main point that nullification aims to address is that a government allowed to determine the scope of its own powers cannot remain limited for long. This is a lesson we should have learned by now. Moreover, since piecemeal solutions to reducing federal power have accomplished nothing, we can hardly afford to dismiss out of hand the idea of nullification, a remedy that is at once creative and intelligent, and recommended by some of the greatest political thinkers in American history.â€
Resistance Left, Right and Center?
Groups across the political spectrum have focused their efforts on this same principle – calling on state governments to not just say no to the federal government, but to actively resist federal laws and actions.
- Firearms Freedom Acts have passed in both Montana and Tennessee, and under the force of law, call on those governments to refuse federal regulation of firearms made and kept in those respective states.
- Bring the Guard Home is a campaign of mostly antiwar activists that are calling on governors to assert constitutional authority over their state’s guard – and refuse to deploy troops for any reason other than authorized by the constitution
- Medical Marijuana Laws – have passed in multiple states around the country and are directly opposed to federal drug laws that see marijuana as illegal under all circumstances.
- Real ID legislation has passed in approximately 2 dozen states requiring state governments to refuse implementation of the 2005 law.
- Health Care Freedom Acts are being actively pursued in six states (including Arizona), and would resist proposed national health care legislation on a number of levels.