An article in today’s New York Times discusses the recent growth of state-level resistance to a future national health care plan. In 2010, voters in Arizona will have a chance to approve a state constitutional amendment that would effectively ban national health care in that state. Legislators in Florida and Michigan have already introduced similar legislation, and potentially 15 other states will do so in the 2010 session.
Here’s something important that NYT writer Monica Davey claims:
…the Constitution’s supremacy clause ordinarily allows federal law to, in essence, trump a state law that conflicts with it…
I have two main points to make here:
1. The “supremacy clause” does not allow federal law to trump state law in all situations. It only does so when both laws are in pursuance of a power that has been delegated to the federal government by “We the People.” All those delegated powers are in the Constitution.
2. We know that this is the case because Monica’s version of the supremacy clause was actually proposed by leading founders – and rejected. When the Constitution was being drafted, James Madison and others proposed the “Virginia Plan.” A major part of this plan was to give the congress a veto over state laws. It was defeated. That means, that Davey is wrong in her claim. Period.
So we know from that short lesson that the supremacy clause did NOT authorize the power that the New York Times is claiming. In fact, the main things that are unconstitutional in this country are those times when the federal government exercises powers not delegated to it in the Constitution.
Unfortunately, though, not enough people know this important history of the Constitution, so they’re easily swayed by patently false statements.