Idaho Attempts to Nullify Obamacare
January 21, 2011 1 Comment
It’s been a big week in politics. First House Republicans put the pressure on Senate Democrats, where 23 face re-election in 2012, by passing a repeal of Obamacare. Yesterday the Republicans proposed $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. Earlier in the week President Obama met with the Chinese President and signed an absurd executive order meant to fool people into believing he’s actually pro-business.
The most interesting story of the week comes out of Idaho of all places. Republicans in Idaho are threatening to invoke the nullification doctrine of the 18th and 19th century and nullify Obamacare. Before the Civil War states believed they had the right to nullify acts of the Federal government. Perhaps the most famous nullification attempts occurred when South Carolina tried to nullify a number of anti-slavery laws. Most of the original states at one time or another nullified Federal laws and thus prevented their enforcement in their state.
I would have thought that the doctrine of nullification died when the north won the civil war and thus made the Federal government supreme over the states. That apparently isn’t going to stop Idaho from attempting to nullify Obamacare. The odds of them winning this battle are slim to none. There is almost no question that the Supreme Court will invalidate Idaho’s nullification of Obamacare.
This presents an interesting question though. Should states be allowed to opt out of Federal programs that they want no part of? Or should the people of those states be forced into subjugation to the whims of the Federal powers in DC? The Constitution does protect states and the people from Federal power where the Constitution does not provide the Federal government with a particular power. I dare say the Constitution does not give the Feds the authority to force people to buy health insurance, or anything for that matter.
With the Feds declaring this power, should the states be allowed to nullify this portion of Obamacare that is clearly unconstitutional? Or should it be left to the courts to determine what is and what isn’t Constitutional. My first thought is that there is nothing in the Constitution making the Supreme Court the sole and final arbiter of what is or isn’t Constitutional. I think there may be a place for nullification at the state level. The problem with nullification is that it comes with a negative racial history, at least in the minds of folks who aren’t aware that nullification extends beyond South Carolina.