The Growing Movement to Nullify National Health Care

In response to what some opponents see as a Congress that doesn’t represent their interests, State Legislators are looking to the nearly forgotten American political tradition of nullification as a way to reject any potential national health care program that may be coming from Washington.

In 2010, residents of Arizona will be voting on a State Constitutional Amendment that would let them effectively opt out of any proposed national health care plan.

Legislatures in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are also considering similar State Constitutional Amendments.

And now, Missouri is joining them. According to a report in The Missourian, "Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, pre-filed a bill Dec. 1 that, if approved by voters, would effectively put a halt on any national health care legislation. Davis said her intent was to give voters a way to protect themselves."

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FREEDOM TO PARTICIPATE

The bill, HJR48, "Proposes a constitutional amendment which would prohibit compelling a person to participate in any health care system."

It states:

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"To preserve the freedom of citizens of this state to provide for their health care, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly or through penalties or fines, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system. A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services. A health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services. Subject to reasonable and necessary rules that do not substantially limit a person’s options, the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems shall not be prohibited by law or rule."

NULLIFICATION: A HISTORY LESSON

The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.

Early nullification movements began with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. These resolutions, secretly authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, asserted that the people of the states, as sovereign entities, could judge for themselves whether the federal government had overstepped its constitutional bounds – to the point of ignoring federal laws.

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December 15, 2009