10th amendment

Va. Health Bill Could Foil Obama Proposal, State Questions Constitutionality

By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | March 8, 2010Source: Courtesy of The Boston Globe.com

RICHMOND - Here in the former capital of the Old Confederacy, where resistance to the supremacy of federal law has a long and tortuous history, a new battle is being waged over a question that could undercut a key part of President Obama’s health care proposal: whether Washington can require that most Americans have health insurance.

The Virginia Legislature this week is poised to become the first state to pass legislation that says citizens cannot be required to have medical insurance.

Dozens of other states are considering similar measures, possibly setting the stage for one of the greatest tests of federal power over the states since the civil rights era.

If states are allowed to opt out of the mandate, the foundation of Obama’s effort would be undermined, turning the nascent revolt here into one with national implications.

The debate goes far beyond a disagreement with the approach to health care coverage taken in Massachusetts.

Rather, Virginia’s lawmakers are focused on constitutional questions and the power of states to run their own affairs.

“The administration is trying to shift from a government by social compact, agreement between elected officials and citizens, to a government where the leaders tell the subjects what to do,’’ said Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican and chief sponsor of the measure. “That is not what the American Revolution was about.’’

Versions of the bill have passed the Virginia House and Senate, with final passage considered all but certain. The Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, supports the measure.

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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.