10th Amendment

Nullify Obamacare

Conservatives across America were shocked to see Chief Justice John Roberts side with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court in upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that the Supreme Court has arbitrarily expanded the power of the federal government while individuals are left to foot the bill and increasingly surrender their liberty.

What is the solution to these unceasing, unconstitutional power grabs? Thomas Jefferson provided an answer in 1799 in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts:

That the principle and construction contended for by sundry of the state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despotism; since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the constitution, would be the measure of their powers: That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour of that instrument, is the rightful remedy: That this commonwealth does upon the most deliberate reconsideration declare, that the said alien and sedition laws, are in their opinion, palpable violations of the said constitution; and however cheerfully it may be disposed to surrender its opinion to a majority of its sister states in matters of ordinary or doubtful policy; yet, in momentous regulations like the present, which so vitally wound the best rights of the citizen, it would consider a silent acquiescence as highly criminal: That although this commonwealth as a party to the federal compact; will bow to the laws of the Union, yet it does at the same time declare, that it will not now, nor ever hereafter, cease to oppose in a constitutional manner, every attempt from what quarter soever offered, to violate that compact… (emphasis added)

Nullification has been used successfully many times since Jefferson wrote these words. Recent examples include the refusal to implement a Medicaid expansion in Obamacare by the governors of Iowa, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Kansas. On top of that, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and others have said they will not create the healthcare exchanges mandated by the law. “I think the real cost of the exchanges will be higher healthcare costs, lower quality healthcare, more government intrusion in micromanaging healthcare,” said Jindal.

Support for the nullification of Obamacare can even be found in the United States Senate. In a statement following the recent Supreme Court decision, Senator Jim Demint (R-South Carolina) said,

This government takeover of health care remains as destructive, unsustainable, and unconstitutional as it was the day it was passed, unread, by a since-fired congressional majority. Now as then, our first step toward real health care reform and economic renewal remains Obamacare’s full repeal, down to the last letter and punctuation mark.

I urge every governor to stop implementing the health care exchanges that would help implement the harmful effects of this misguided law. Americans have loudly rejected this federal takeover of health care, and governors should join with the people and reject its implementation.

American economist, academic, and columnist Walter Williams has also recently expressed his support for state nullification of Obamacare. While guest hosting the Rush Limbaugh radio program, Williams said: “I think the American citizens ought to press their state governors and legislatures just to nullify the law — just to plain nullify it and say, ‘The citizens of such-and-such-a state don’t have to obey Obamacare because it’s unconstitutional, regardless of what the Supreme Court says…'”

It’s time for Utah to do as Williams said and “just… plain nullify it.” The 2013 Utah legislative session, beginning in January, may be the last opportunity to shield Utah from the liberty-destroying provisions of Obamacare that go into effect on January 1, 2014, including:

  • Annual penalty for those not covered by an “acceptable insurance policy”. The penalty starts at a minimum of $95 or 1% of income (whichever is greater). It then increases to $695 or 2.5% of income in 2016.
  • Expansion of Medicaid eligibility to persons earning up to 133% of the poverty level.
  • Small businesses with 50+ employees will be penalized $2,000 per employee if they don’t offer health insurance to full-time workers.
  • Establishment of health insurance exchanges that will subsidize insurance premiums for households earning up to 400% of the poverty level.

We call on the Utah Legislature to look to model legislation by the Tenth Amendment Center in crafting an appropriate protection against the unconstitutional overreaches of the federal government. Let us as Utahns apply the “rightful remedy” and nullify Obamacare.