Thursday, March 18, 2010

States Ready to Challenge Health Care Law?

With the passage of the new health care Bill apparently pending, some states are starting to take preemptive measures in order to prevent enforcement of said Bill. On Wednesday, Governor C.L. Otter of Idaho signed the first to sign a law which would require “the state attorney general to sue the federal government over any such insurance mandates”.

Thirty-seven other states have similar legislation pending, mainly in Republican dominated states. Such measures are in direct reply to growing dissatisfaction with the health care overhaul proposed by President Obama. Support for these state laws appears to be based on claims that the health care Bill in question would unconstitutionally interfere with citizens’ rights to determine their need for insurance.

There are obvious issues with laws such as the one passed in Iowa. The most obvious issue relates to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which makes federal law supreme to state law. Assuming the federal health care Bill passes, these state laws will then become irrelevant as these laws include language directly contradictory to the proposed federal law. Even if challenges were brought asserting the validity of the state law, it would be surprising to see any Court uphold these state laws under such circumstances.

Also, there is a question about whether a state is the proper party to sue regarding the passage of a federal health care law. Some feel that such a lawsuit can only be brought by a person who has been harmed by being required to purchase health insurance under this new law. Without a showing of harm, there may not be a valid basis upon which to commence litigation.

Still, Idaho’s governor seems confident in the effectiveness of the state law. With thirty-six other states considering similar laws, he believes that there is a “constitutional mass” that must be listened to. He feels this “constitutional mass” will be sufficient to ensure state laws such as the one just signed in Idaho will succeed.

Whether one is for or against this new health care Bill, the fact that 74% of the states are considering state legislation contrary to this proposed federal law is somewhat shocking. If such numbers are accurate, and there is no reason to think they are not, then the question of what the states want and what the federal government feels is necessary becomes a rather large issue. There is no answer to this contradiction unfortunately, but should make one think about the propriety of this federal health care law and the possibility of further such clashes in the future.

For the full article, click here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prom Cancelled on Account of Gay?

In an AP article from today, it is being reported that a school in Mississippi has cancelled their prom due to the fact a female student asked permission to bring her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo. Gay rights have been a focal point the past several years, concentrating primarily on their rights to marriage; however, this article today reminds us that close-mindedness towards gay equality exists in other venues as well.

The Itawamba County school district's board cancelled the school’s prom citing “recent distractions”. The cause was never specifically attributed by the board as being due to this student’s request, but the school’s policy towards prom does state that dates must be of the opposite sex. District officials have stated they hope that parents will organize a replacement gathering for the students, which some see as merely a means by the board to avoid further discussion of the topic.

Upon requesting permission to attend the prom with a female date and wear a tuxedo, the student was told she could not wear a tuxedo or arrive together with and would be required to leave if the actions of her and her date made others feel ”uncomfortable”. The ACLU had set a deadline to change the policy on allowing same sex dates to the prom, which resulted in the aforementioned cancellation.

Even for a small rural town it is difficult to understand how a school board could see the act of two females attending prom together to be “distracting” or make others feel “uncomfortable”. Even if one is wearing a tuxedo, it would be hard to imagine that the female requesting this permission has been “hidden” from her classmates previously.

The student could have foregone asking permission and just shown up in a tuxedo with her date, causing a bigger “distraction” and making more people “uncomfortable” at the dance; however, she attempted to smooth things over beforehand in an attempt to prevent such issues. The inclusion of the ACLU admittedly may add to the feel of a “distraction”, but their presence would not have been required if this outdated rule was not still in place.

Some of the comments (submitted by on-line readers) at the end of the article are worrisome in that they may actually reflect the thinking that is going on in this situation and other gay rights fights across the country. I hope the sarcasm in some of these posts merely failed to translate on-line, but if not these statements blaming the “special individuals”, who do not have “healthy minds”, for pushing their “special needs” upon others and suggesting she forego her prom instead of letting her lifestyle ruin everybody else’s fun harkens back to a time when homosexuality was still classified as a mental disease. Statements and issues such as this make one realize how far there is left to go in the way of equal rights for all, in so many areas of life.