Governors of three states have signed “Freedom Acts” prohibiting implementation of federal health care reform legislation as resistance to the Health Care Reform Act surfaces in state governments.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed H.B. 67 into law last week, which “prohibits an individual in this state from being required to purchase health insurance,” and authorizes the state legislature to approve or deny federal reform legislation.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed similar legislation—the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act—in Richmond on March 24, and Idaho's Gov. Otter signed the Idaho Health Freedom Act on March 17.
Otter stated that the people of Idaho “won’t be subject to another federal mandate or turn over another part of their life to government control,” according to a March 17 news release posted on his Web site.
Oklahoma and Arizona will have such measures appear on the November ballot, and as many as 41 states have similar legislation proposed, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free markets, limited government organization.
In South Carolina, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is asking state lawmakers to support a resolution calling for a constitutional convention to amend the Constitution and overturn “socialized medicine.”
“The freedoms we have enjoyed in our lifetimes are being steadily eroded, and future generations will suffer the consequences,” Mr. Bauer stated in a letter sent to the state's General Assembly March 25, referring to the health care reform legislation's mandate of required health insurance coverage.
The convention process for amendment is outlined in Article V of the Constitution, requiring two-thirds, or 34 of the states to call, or “apply,” for the convention.
The Article V process has never been used to amend the Constitution, but the threat of it is believed to be behind the passage of a few amendments historically in Congress, which required a two-thirds majority vote.
The foundation of this resistance to the recent Health Care Reform Act is a belief that the new law oversteps the constitutionally-defined boundaries of the federal government, infringing on the rights and power of individual states.
Supporters of states' rights principles and limited federal power—echoed in Tea Party movement tenets—point to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which implies that powers not granted to the federal government are retained by the states and their citizens:
'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.'
Historically, the U.S. Supreme Court rarely overturns federal law based on 10th Amendment arguments, with one recent exception being a 1997 Printz v. United States ruling that declared certain interim provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act unconstitutional.
A sign that Tea Party ideals and influence may be a factor in upcoming November elections is President Obama's nod to the group and its concerns in a Tuesday interview with Matt Lauer, on NBC's "Today Show."
The president said that the group had “mainstream, legitimate concerns” over government measures and spending, and that legislative steps—such as the recent economic bailout—fed a sense that the federal government was “taking on too much” and “things were out of control.”
The president concluded that as his administration tackled deficit issues and other issues in the future, Tea Party membership would dissipate as concerns were addressed.