The June Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was disappointing, but not surprising. After all, the Supreme Court is a branch of the Federal Government. It can surely not be a surprise that nine employees of the Federal Government found in favor of the Federal Government in its dispute with more than half of the American States.
We have good news, though. The Supreme Court does not get the last word on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The people of Pennsylvania delegated some limited, enumerated powers to the Federal Government when we ratified the Constitution. Regardless of what the Supreme Court may think, the powers to control health care and health insurance were not among those delegated powers. The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution says,
“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.“
Powers not delegated are reserved. The States that created the federal government and agreed to its existence by this compact are fully empowered to decide for themselves NOT to comply with any act outside the scope of federal authority as enumerated in the Constitution. Pennsylvania does not need permission from the Supreme Court or anyone else in order to follow the Constitution!
As the Pennsylvania legislature wrote in the 1811 Pennsylvania Resolutions Against the Bank,
“The people of the United States by the adoption of the federal constitution established a general government for special purposes, reserving to themselves respectively, the rights and authorities not delegated in that instrument. To the compact thereby created, each state acceded in its character as a state, and is a party. The act of union thus entered into being to all intents and purposes a treaty between sovereign states, the general government by this treaty was not constituted the exclusive or final judge of the powers it was to exercise, for if it were so to judge then its judgement and not the constitution would be the measure of its authority.
Should the general government in any of its departments violate the provisions of the constitution, it rests with the states, and with the people, to apply suitable remedies.… (emphasis added)”
In the 1820s and again in the 1840s, Pennsylvania passed personal freedom laws prohibiting the enforcement of Federal fugitive slave laws inside our borders. We need our legislators today to protect our rights in the same way that their 19th century predecessors did.
If you would like to help bring this about, please visit our information center. There, you will find a petition to sign and share among your friends and grass roots contacts, model legislation, a tool kit, and other reference information to generate grass roots action on this important Pennsylvania issue.
Please join us in this important cause!
Steve Palmer is the State Chapter Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center.
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