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U.S. News and Commentary



Monday
Sep142009

As Constitution Day approaches, states mull options to limit Washington

By Kay B. Day

The Library of Congress said James Madison came to be known as the "Father of our Constitution...among the most influential delegates at the Constitutional Convention" in 1787.[Lithograph after a painting by Gilbert Stuart, circa 1828, from the digital collection at the LOC.] September 17 is Constitution Day, so it seems appropriate that states are rallying in an effort to combat a federal government expanding beyond its historically legal powers. Two bills, HR 2454 and healthcare legislation in progress, will affect the daily lives of every American. A columnist at The Tenth Amendment Center said the states have a ‘nuclear option’ on healthcare—nullification.

The Tenth Amendment Center is calling attention to September 17 because on that day in 1787, members of the Constitutional Convention signed the draft of the document that is the keystone for liberty. As Congress attempts to expand the powers of the federal government to historic levels, the Center’s founder Michael Boldin said in a news release, “This year seven states have passed sovereignty resolutions under the 10th amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Laws passed by states include nullification of some federal firearms regulations. Boldin added, “[T]hree states are considering constitutional amendments allowing residents to effectively opt out of any future national healthcare plan.”

More than 2 dozen states have passed or are in the process of trying to pass state sovereignty resolutions.

In a column at the Center website, Josh Eboch addresses the means some in Congress have threatened to use to ram healthcare legislation through with a simple majority, a process rather ridiculously called ‘reconciliation.’ If Dems ram historic legislation down the throats of American taxpayers, there will be nothing friendly about it. Eboch said this would be a “strategic error” and a “miscalculation.”

Eboch compared the management style of President Barack Obama to that of President George W. Bush, saying, “[r]ipping a page from the Bush playbook of condescension and demagoguery is not the way for Obama to gain trust the trust he needs. Heavy handed federal policy turns voters off even in the best of times, and these are clearly not the best of times.”

Though most think of the term ‘nullification’ as relevant to the War Between the States, it’s a little- discussed option for states to preserve sovereignty. “If and when President Obama forces through his health care bill, it could trigger a backlash already simmering at the state level that neither he nor his colleagues in Congress seem to have seriously contemplated: a popular push for state level nullification,” said Eboch.

Boldin pointed out national healthcare is not one of the “approximately 35 powers” delegated to the federal government in the Constitution. The document “established rules for limiting government power so your liberty would have a better chance of success.” The Center created the 10-4 Pledge, Boldin said, “so people can find candidates for office who believe in the strict limitations on power that the Constitution stands for.” The pledge contains 10 affirmations and 10 promises for legislators and candidates, including an affirmation that “All just political authority is derived from the people.” The pledge embodies adherence to the Constitution on every issue, with no exceptions.

Much confusion surrounds healthcare legislation at the moment because Democrats, in absolute control of Congress, have yet to agree on a single bill. Perhaps the highest profile bill is HR 3200. Unlike virtually every member of Congress, The US Report has addressed specific sections of that bill in previous columns.

In an editorial ‘Read the Union Health-Care Label’ at The Wall Street Journal, Mark Mix wrote, “[N]ot enough attention is being paid to the huge financial windfalls ObamaCare will dole out to unions—or to the various bills in Congress that will help bring about the forced unionization of the healthcare industry…Tucked away in thousands of pages of complex new rules, regulations and mandates are special privileges and giveaways that could have devastating consequences…” [Sept. 10, '09, pg. A21]Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee, an organization that favors the rights of workers to refuse to unionize.

Why is it important to call attention to Constitution Day?

“When the Constitution was written, it was done to limit the power of government,” said Boldin. “The Constitution is not exclusively for the right or the left.”

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