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States’ Rights Update: AZ on Nationalized Healthcare; TN, LA on 10th

I wanted to take a moment to once again publicly thank Michael Boldin at for the great work he’s been putting forth in helping all of us keep up to date on State-based initiatives occurring across America.

While I have been focusing predominantly on the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Amendment initiatives at the State level, another issue that is near and dear to my family’s heart is health care, especially in light of the federal debate on exactly whether or not and how we should “nationalize” our healthcare system. And while I am categorically against any form of socialized medicine (meaning that I believe it should be up to the individual to make their own health decisions, be they good or bad), as the first referenced link will show, it’s important to remember that the debate can occur not only between the federal government and individuals, but also between the States and the federal government.

In other words, the question of whether or not the federal government should even be considering such a dramatically broad encroachment upon individual lives is just as important as the question of what kind of coverage we think that everyone should have. After all, while the image associated with this posting is an excellent caricature of the issue at hand, you should ask yourself — would you be comfortable with the federal government making your health care decisions for you? (Can you say, “Dr. Obama?”)

Consider the following from Arizona:

Right on the heels of a successful state-by-state nullification of the 2005 Real ID act, the State of Arizona is out in the forefront of a growing resistance to proposed federal health care legislation.

This past Monday, the Arizona State Senate voted 18-11 to concur with the House and approve the Health Care Freedom Act (HCR2014).  This will put a proposal on the 2010 ballot which would constitutionally override any law, rule or regulation that requires individuals or employers to participate in any particular health care system.

HCR2014, if approved by voters next year, also would prohibit any fine or penalty on anyone or any company for deciding to purchase health care directly. Doctors and health care providers would remain free to accept those funds and provide those services.

Finally, it would overrule anything that prohibits the sale of private health insurance in Arizona.

Five other states — Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming — are considering similar initiatives for their 2010 ballots. …

Real ID as the Blueprint?

While some constitutional experts are skeptical of the effect that such legislation could have, supporters can point to the successful campaign to oppose the Real ID Act.

In early 2007, Maine and then Utah passed resolutions refusing to implement the federal Real ID act on grounds that the law was unconstitutional.  Well-over a dozen more states followed suit in passing legislation opposing Real ID.

Instead of attempting to force the law to implementation, the federal government delayed implementation not once, but twice, and additional states  got on board with legally-binding legislation refusing Real ID implementation.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration, recognizing the insurmountable task of enforcing a law in the face of such broad resistance, announced that it was looking to “repeal and replace” the controversial law.


When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective’, within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.

Nullification has a long and interesting history in American politics, and originates in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. These resolutions, secretly authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, asserted that states, as sovereign entities, could judge for themselves whether the federal government had overstepped its constitutional bounds, to the point of ignoring federal laws.

Virginia and Kentucky passed the resolutions in response to the federal Alien and Sedition Acts, which provided, in part, for the prosecution of anyone who criticized Congress or the President of the United States.

Historian Thomas E. Woods looks at nullification as a constitutional “check,” and a way to prevent one government from having the power to rule on the limits of its own authority:

“The main point that nullification aims to address is that a government allowed to determine the scope of its own powers cannot remain limited for long. This is a lesson we should have learned by now. Moreover, since piecemeal solutions to reducing federal power have accomplished nothing, we can hardly afford to dismiss out of hand the idea of nullification, a remedy that is at once creative and intelligent, and recommended by some of the greatest political thinkers in American history.”

Resistance Left, Right and Center?

Groups across the political spectrum have focused their efforts on this same principle – calling on state governments to not just say no to the federal government, but to actively resist federal laws and actions.

  • Firearms Freedom Acts have passed in both Montana and Tennessee, and under the force of law, call on those governments to refuse federal regulation of firearms made and kept in those respective states.
  • Bring the Guard Home is a campaign of mostly antiwar activists that are calling on governors to assert constitutional authority over their state’s guard – and refuse to deploy troops for any reason other than authorized by the constitution
  • Medical Marijuana Laws – have passed in multiple states around the country and are directly opposed to federal drug laws that see marijuana as illegal under all circumstances.
  • Real ID legislation has passed in approximately 2 dozen states requiring state governments to refuse implementation of the 2005 law.
  • Health Care Freedom Acts are being actively pursued in six states (including Arizona), and would resist proposed national health care legislation on a number of levels.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has also introduced legislation at the federal level, such as the Protect Patients’ and Physicians’ Privacy Act, HR 2630:

which allows patients and physicians to opt out of any federally mandated, created, or funded electronic medical records system.  The bill also repeals sections of federal law establishing a “unique health identifier” and requires patient consent before any electronic medical records can be released to a 3rd party.

…as well as Coercion is Not Health Care Act, HR 2629:

This legislation forbids the federal government from forcing any American to purchase health insurance, or conditioning participation in any federal program on the purchase of health insurance.

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed his State’s 10th Amendment resolution:

This week, Tennesse Governor Phil Bredesen signed House Joint Resolution 108 (HJR0108), authored by State Rep. Susan Lynn.  The resolution “Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee’s sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution.”

The House passed the resolution on 05/26 by a vote of 85-2 and the Senate passed it on 06/12 by a vote of 31-0.

Six other states have had both houses of their legislature pass similar resolutions – Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Louisiana – but Tennessee is the first to have such a resolution signed by the Governor.


Passage of this resolution appears to be part of what is now a growing state-level resistance to the federal government on various levels.   Similar 10th Amendment resolutions have been introduced in 36 states around the country, and various states are considering single-issue legislation in direct contravention to federal laws.

Most recently, the Arizona Legislature passed a measure for public approval on the 2010 state ballot that would give Arizona voters the opportunity to nullify, or opt out, of any potential national health care legislation.

Since 2007, more than two dozen states have passed legislation refusing to implement the Real ID act of 2005.  In response, the federal government has recently announced that they want to “repeal and replace” the law due to a rebellion by states.

Pending legislation in states around the country also includes preventing state law enforcement officials from enforcing federal laws, refusing federal gun regulations, refusing to send a state’s national guard to any duty other than what the constitution authorizes, legalizing marijuana for various purposes and more.


While HJR0108 is strongly-word in support of the principles of limited, constitutional government that the 10th Amendment represents, it is a Joint Resolution and does not carry with it the force of law.  But supporters say that this is an important first step to get their message out not only to grassroots supporters, but to the media, and legislators in other states as well.

In additional to calling  on the federal government to abide by the constitution, it also states that  “a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed by the Speaker of the House and of the Senate, which shall have as its charge to communicate the preceding resolution to the legislatures of the several states, to assure them that this State continues in the same esteem of their friendship and to call for a joint working group between the states to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and to seek repeal of the assumption of powers and the imposed mandates.”

The final verbiage of the resolution can be found at the referenced link.

Louisiana also affirmed sovereignty:

the Louisiana State House voted to approve Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 (SCR2) which “Memorializes Congress to affirm Louisiana’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and to demand that the federal government halt its practices of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States of America.”

The resolution, authored by State Senator Crowe, passed by a vote of 59-12.  It previously passed the State Senate by a vote of 32-0.  (h/t hayestown)

Louisiana joins Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Idaho and Tennessee as states where similar resolutions affirming sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution have been approved by both legislative houses.

A current listing of State-based initiatives can be found here.


Photoshopped image courtesy Moonbattery


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