Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during a news conference unveiling the
Republican's Declaration of Health Care Independence Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
It was only last spring when the Idaho legislature passed resolution HJM004 claiming "sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States." Many other states have passed similar resolutions. These resolutions carry no legislative authority, and are substantively no more than reminders to the federal government that its powers are limited by the Constitution in general, and Amendment X in particular. Still, they embody a clearly anti federal government sentiment that has burgeoned since the presidential and congressional Democratic electoral sweeps in November, 2008.
Now, however, Idaho House Bill No. 391, the "Idaho Health Freedom Act" has been introduced into the Idaho legislature that countermands measures in the pending health care reform bills in the United States House and Senate. Most importantly, the Idaho bill prohibits any mandate requiring persons to purchase health insurance or to face a fine for failure to do so. What are the ramifications of this bill, which openly defies proposed federal legislation? Under what authority can the state of Idaho even introduce such legislation?
The short answer is that it can't, that this bill is immediately null and void, because Idaho law is inferior to the United States Constitution, as stipulated in Article V!, clause 2, which reads "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. "
Even the Constitution of the state of Idaho recognizes this federal supremacy in Article I, which reads, "Section 3.State inseparable part of Union. The state of Idaho is an inseparable part of the American Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land."
Consequently, this bill should be regarded as grandstanding at best, and pernicious mischief in actuality, as it forces an unnecessary and wasteful confrontation between the state and the federal government, in which the state is simply out of bounds. The proper approach would be to challenge the mandate as unconstitutional under Amendment X of the U.S. Constitution through the federal court system, which has jurisdiction over this matter as stipulated in Article III. Section 2.
Alternatively, Idahoans against the proposed insurance reforms should write or phone their representatives in the United States Congress to register their objections, or support for Republican alternatives, such as U.S. Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann's Declaration of Health Care Independence.