The Tenth Amendment Center is pissed – but ready. Thursday, June 28, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 decision in the landmark case of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius or more accurately, a number of merged cases serving as a proxy for the right-wing prayer of finding The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in an act of great courage unless he and his fellow conservative justices are up to something, joined the court’s liberal wing in upholding ACA. In rejecting the commerce clause argument he still called the mandate requirement a tax and as such constitutional. It wasn’t a perfect decision since the court’s liberal wing believes the Commerce Clause applies, but it will certainly do for now.
The same day of the decision, followers of the Tenth Amendment Center received an email castigating the ruling. “Now that the Supremes have crushed constitutional limits once again, the next step is to focus all our energy on a state and local level to NULLIFY (emphasis theirs) this.- and every other – unconstitutional act.” Dashes TAC’s as well.
And wouldn’t you know it; included in that very email was a piece of model legislation designed to do just that…NULLIFY. This legislation had obviously been sitting in the hopper long before the decision came down. Let me give you a partial taste of what state legislatures (at least red state legislatures) are expected to pass.
The legislation is named, ‘Federal Health Care Nullification Act’ and TAC encourages activists to send the model legislation to their representatives and senators and ask them to introduce the legislation ‘in your state’. As if key legislators didn’t already have a copy.
As for the bill, itself, it’s pretty pithy. After Section 1 amorphous explanations of delegation of powers, James Madison’s Federalist #45, and the powers of the states and people, somehow all tied in with Obamacare, the model legislation proceeds to get down to the ludicrous nitty gritty.
Section 2A declares that ACA is not authorized by the constitution and violates the true meaning and intent as given by the Founding Fathers and ‘Ratifiers’. Ergo, it’s invalid, shall not be recognized, is rejected, null and void and “of no effect in this state.” Then it’s on to 2B, nuttier than 2A if that’s possible. The state is urged to adopt all measures necessary to prevent the enforcement of ACA. In 2C if the feds or one of their contractors attempts to enforce ACA, they can be fined $5,000 and thrown in prison for 5 years. A state officer or employee only gets 2 years bird time and $1,000 fine for the same ‘crime’.
No doubt some state legislatures will waste valuable constituent time on these monkeyshines. And it would be a waste of time. Never has the Supreme Court upheld a nullification case nor rejected the preamble to that precious constitution always referenced by the far right. “We the people of the United States.” That simply means that ‘we the people’ of the (red) state of confusion cannot reject the law of ‘we the people’ of the entire USA. Nor have the courts ever rejected the Supremacy Clause of Article VI. In short, federal law takes precedent over state law as long as it’s in line with the constitution.
You can look at cases going back as far as 1809 or look at Cooper v. Aaron, (1958) an offshoot of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that effectively told white America that you couldn’t keep black students out of your schools any longer. Arkansas, representing the racists crowd tried the nullification route and once again it worked no better in 1958 than it had some 149 years earlier.
There is also the Texas Public Policy Foundations – Center for Tenth Amendment Studies. This outfit is headed by a far right neocon and financed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, so you know there’s something askew here. And with ALEC involved, it’s always about “show me the money.” Same with the assorted governors, some mentioned by my colleague Sarah Jones in an earlier piece, who have pledged to defy the implementation of ACA within their states.
Here’s what’s at stake now that recent republican administrations have allowed corporations an almost impenetrable power position within the deepest folds of American politics. Once folks realize that Obamacare is a pretty sweet deal and insurance exchanges might just get them lower premiums and preventive care might just keep them well and if they do get sick they don’t have to worry about annual and/or lifetime limits on coverage and diabetics and others don’t have to concern themselves with losing (or never gaining) coverage because of pre-existing conditions…that’s when that foothold slides into oblivion and reasonable regulations are restored and the ‘anything goes’ era is over.
And I do mean, ‘anything goes’. Here are some Kaiser Family Foundation; Health Research & Educational Trust numbers that pre-date Obamacare and give you an idea of how awesome a screwing the American public has been receiving from the health insurance industry.
According to Kaiser, in the year 2000, the average annual premium for a single person was about $2,471 for a single person and around $6,438 for an average family. Just 9 year later, that single victim was paying $4,824 on average and the family was being dinged for $13,375. The cost of health insurance went up over 200% in those 9 years pre-ACA. That was also an era of high deductibles and modest coverage and, of course, disqualifying pre-existing conditions and annual limits and lifetime limits and…
We pay more than TWICE as much as any other industrialized country for health care.
The desperation level for the corporatists is reaching a fever pitch. The stakes are enormous. That’s because the court has given ACA, a worthwhile and reasonable health care act impacting a huge corporate category, a chance to work. And once it works, it can be built upon. If Obama and enough democrats get elected, the public option is almost inevitable. And people will discover that Limbaugh and Fox and company have lied all these years. Corporations will have to revert to their rightful place as servants of the public, not the other way around.
Ah, smell that fresh air!