Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tenther dreams redux

Most of you are undoubtedly aware that a bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House to nullify the Affordable Care Act – dubbed “Obamacare” – on Tenth Amendment grounds; “they overstepped their bounds,” as constitutional scholar Mike Parry might say.

Republicans in the Minnesota House have included an amendment to the health and human services omnibus bill that would ban the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the state of Minnesota because legislators believe it to be in violation of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. On Wednesday night, Republicans argued that “Obamacare” would “eviscerate” state sovereignty, while DFLers made comparisons to the Confederacy and the arguments used by secessionists during the Civil War. One legislator even proposed changing the state song to “Dixie.”

Here’s more from the Minnesota Independent article about the debate on the measure:

DFLers made that point clear at several moments in the floor debate, but their strategy seemed to be to tie the ban on the Affordable Care Act to the 10th Amendment battles waged during the Civil War and Civil Rights Eras.

Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, compared the amendment offered by Gruenhagen [against the Affordable Care Act] to those arguments used by the South during those periods of American history.

“Reasonable people can disagree with the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “But what this amendment proposes is crazy, I just have to tell you.”

“We have a tradition in this country that we don’t just opt out of laws that we think are unconstitutional,” he added. “We had this debate in the 1860s with the Civil War. We had it in 1960s with civil rights.”

Simon said he didn’t want to assert that Republicans were arguing those same issues — that of slavery and discrimination — but that the 10th Amendment argument had been used in those cases as well.

Rep. Simon is correct. Before the election last fall, when Tenther Tom Emmer was running for governor, I interviewed Professor Bill Green to give us a little history of the issue of attempts to nullify federal by state legislatures. It’s twenty minutes long, but it’s worthwhile.

Standing on the Brink: Bill Green on nullification

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