Virginia First State to Challenge Federal Health Insurance Mandate

Source: The Washington ExaminerBy: Barbara Hollingsworth Local Opinion Editor 03/05/10 1:20 PM EST

Congress hasn’t even passed Obamacare yet, but if and when it does, Virginia’s General Assembly has already fired the first round in what could be a major legal showdown with Washington over the limits of federal power.

On Thursday, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere became the first state to enact legislation that prohibits the federal government from forcing its citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. The measure was sponsored by two Northern Virginians - State Senator Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, and Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas - who also co-signed a Feb. 24 letter to President Obama protesting state legislators’ exclusion from his recent health care summit.

In an ominous sign for the president’s top domestic priority, five Democrats in the Virginia Senate joined 18 Republicans to vote for the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act in a state Obama won handily less than 18 months ago. They were, perhaps, influenced by the 2,400 grassroots activists who trekked to Richmond last month to oppose federally mandated insurance coverage.

A constitutional amendment passed earlier in Arizona, but has yet to be approved by voters. It will be on the ballot in November.

Legislators in more than 30 other states are also considering similar bills based on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care model.

The Tenth Amendment Center has a map of pending health care "nullification" bills that challenge the federal government’s jurisdiction based on its reading of the Constitution.

So even if Obamacare passes, this brewing constitutional battle could delay enactment for quite some time.