States don’t have to help implement Obamacare.


The anti-commandeering doctrine is a well-established legal principle holding that states can refuse assistance to the federal government with implementation of federal laws. The feds can pass laws, but the they have to enforce them on their own dime and with their own manpower. State agencies don’t have to lift a finger and the federal government cannot force or coerce them to do so.

Marching forward, South Carolina bill H.3101 seeks to put the anti-commandeering principle to good use. Sen. Tom Davis-R has put forth an amendment to H.3101, which, among other things, bans state agencies, local governments, and their employees from assisting the federal government with implementation of the federal health exchange in South Carolina—the very definition of the anti-commandeering doctrine. The amendment seeks to take the nullification wording out of the old bill and instead stake out a plan of non-cooperation.

“South Carolina and other states have an obligation to slow the spread of that infection as best they can until such time as Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act,” Davis said.

And for many, the reality is beginning to set in that the Constitution is still relevant, and states aren’t just federal government pawns. Many stats no longer wish to simply submit to unwarranted federal authority.

Yet as the engine against expansive government continues to build steam—like flies to honey—the naysayers begin to appear.

Try as they might, foot-stompers from the left continue to use fear mongering in a failed effort change reality. The notion that states have sovereign rights which the federal government cannot impede upon is of no concern to the foot-stompers.

When certain groups make reference to the nullification and the anti-commandeering doctrines as methods used solely by anti-government separatists, not only is this completely misleading, these falsities leave out the crucial historical usage of these methods as tools to invalidate laws like the Fugitive Slave Acts and more current laws like the federal prohibition of marijuana. But to inform you of this would be too radical.

The U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) that the federal government couldn’t force states to carry out the federal government’s laws. Other Supreme Court cases have, since then, strongly agreed. The not-so-radical idea of states leaving implementation of federal laws up to the federal government is a tool that has been time-tested and proven.

So, why is it that some continue down this path of sophistry? Simply put, when these individuals don’t get their way, and states refuse to assist the federal government with implementing disasters such as Obamacare, these individuals forget that the United States is a constitutional federation and states have certain sovereign rights. With their desired policies legitimately thwarted, the slandering continues.

And that’s what has happened here. References alluding to nullification and the anti-commandeering doctrine taking us back to the days of the Civil War do nothing to inform the reader of the truth. Even the author cannot escape this fact.

Constitutional scholars concede any state’s right to pick and choose which federal law to enforce. “The federal government can pass legislation in an area, and people who are citizens of the states have to obey that legislation,” said UCLA law professor and noted author Adam Winkler. But, he continued, drawing on the example of Washington and Colorado’s move to legalize marijuana, federal authorities “cannot require state officials to enforce federal law.”

Thankfully, there are place where you can find real information based on countless hours or research with reporters simply conveying real fact.

Brian Hoops
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