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.
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