Saturday, August 07, 2010

You decide...

This past week, over 70% of voters in Missouri decided that they didn't want to be forced to buy health insurance as required by the recently passed federal health insurance law. It's encouraging that people are taking a stand against the new law, and it's encouraging that more states are moving in that direction. It's an exercise of the Tenth Amendment, which gives the states and people the remedy of nullifying any law the federal government makes which exceeds the boundaries of its Constitutional authority. One of the lines in the above Reuters article wasn't as encouraging. It states, "Experts said because federal law typically supersedes state laws, the state efforts could ultimately be largely symbolic, although it is likely the debate will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court." I suppose an expert can be mistaken, although I'm not sure they could still be considered an expert afterwards. The assumption by these experts is that the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction over Tenth Amendment issues.

While I was glad to see Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller jumping into the game, he was off base when he made the following statement: “The unprecedented claim that the federal government has the right to require individuals to purchase a private health insurance product is a question that ultimately ought to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.”

While the Supreme Court certainly has some important duties, also enumerated in the Constitution, deciding who gets to decide on what qualifies as a Tenth Amendment issue isn't one of them. The court is a branch of the federal government, and the Tenth Amendment says that "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."

Imagine for a moment that you and I signed a contract authorizing me to put a roof on your house and to charge you for that service. Then, at some point in time, I decided that your house needed painting, and I informed you that I was also going to paint your house and charge you for that service. When you protest that painting your house wasn't part of the contract, I inform you that I had shown the contract to my wife, and she had decided that roofing and painting were kind of related, and since you had already agreed to the roofing, I was right and you were out of luck.

You could and should justifiably call foul. You could also justifiably ignore any second or third opinions.

The federal government has broken its contract with the states many times over the years. It's breaking that contract more frequently and to a greater extent recently.

And it's not up to federal government to decide when it's breaking the contract.
It's up to the states. And the people.

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