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Taking a stand against mandatory health insurance

Taking a stand against mandatory health insurance

Wayne Hoffman
March 22, 2010
Wayne Hoffman
Author Image
March 22, 2010

It took me about an hour to fill out my Census form. Not because I'm stupid and the 10 questions stumped me. I marked how many people live in at my address, because that is what the Constitution designed the Census to answer. I refused to answer the question of whether I own my home, because it's really none of the federal government's business. And then I paused for a long time. I was really torn about telling the federal government my race. Should I put "Human," which I thought would be really funny, and I loved the idea of a good joke that my great great grandkids could read more than 70 years from now when my Census answers are made public. Or should I say "American?"

Last week, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law the Idaho Health Freedom Act. The legislation has no trouble at all telling the federal government what Idahoans think about federal legislation ordering all Americans to buy health insurance. The state law says all Idahoans are free to decide, as part of our inalienable rights of liberty, whether or not we buy health insurance, and that the federal government's threat of penalty has no power here.

Some members of the news media didn't get it. At the press conference where Otter signed the legislation, reporters questioned the state's consistency: How can Idaho leaders blast the federal government's health insurance mandate on one hand and still lobby the federal government to locate F-35 Fighters in Idaho? Simple, really. National defense is a proper role of government under the U.S. Constitution. Dictating that Americans buy health insurance is not.

The Idaho Statesman opined Friday that Otter and state lawmakers "are about to get a publicly funded lesson in the Constitution's supremacy clause," which, the newspaper's legal experts determined "is probably sufficient to doom" the Idaho Health Freedom Act.

Not necessarily. Yes, the Supremacy Clause is the supreme law of the land. But if tested in court, the federal government is going to have to show that it has constitutional authority to order every American to buy health insurance as a matter of interstate commerce. And even then, the federal government will have to demonstrate that the congressionally-passed legislation does not violate the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states and to the people those powers not expressly delegated to the federal government under the Constitution. (Even then, surely the U.S. Supreme Court would have something to say about the bribes and procedural underhandedness being used to shove the bill through to passage).

Frankly, the federal government ought to pray that Idaho and other states are successful in their constitutional challenge to the health care legislation. Because if the states are not, there are many of us who will rise up and refuse to participate anyway. The government may try to punish me, but I won't be told by the government what to buy or not buy as a condition of my lawful residency of this country. I am free. I won't be coerced. I won't succumb. And it is because I am an American. It says so on my Census form.

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