South Carolina bill declares ObamaCare “null and void,” criminalizes implementation
The South Carolina state House would like you to know that it really, really, really doesn’t like ObamaCare. It delivered this message by passing a bill on Wednesday called the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act, which declared ObamaCare “null and void,” and it aims to “prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for violating this article.”
Furthermore, according to the Washington Times, the bill permits the state Attorney General “to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction” anyone he has “reasonable cause” to believe is harming individuals or businesses with the implementation of ObamaCare. Wow. Given how much harm the ObamaCare train wreck is inflicting, that would be a lot of injunctions and restraining orders. The AG’s office had better stock up on legal-sized printer and copy paper.
As the Washington Times recalls, South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, has already vowed to oppose ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid in her state, which she says doesn’t want it and can’t afford it, “not now, not ever.” That’s a very different level of resistance than passing a state bill that would largely nullify ObamaCare.
Despite the fiery language declaring the health-care takeover entirely “null and void,” it sounds like the balance of the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act is a bit more specific, since it talks about keeping “certain individuals” from enforcing the law, and includes the qualification that the Attorney General must have “reasonable cause” to believe offending officials are causing harm by implementing ObamaCare.
The State of South Carolina says that legislators who supported the bill describe it as “resistance ot the Affordable Care Act,” rather than outright nullification. Apparently the initial version of the bill was much tougher, providing “felony and misdemeanor penalties” for state or federal employees who tried to carry out any of ObamaCare’s provisions. The version that passed the House “limits the bill’s scope only to those parts of the health-care law that the state deems unconstitutional,” and affects only “state actors.”
Of course, state legislature can fume that ObamaCare is “unconstitutional” all it wants, and many of us agree that it should have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court… but it wasn’t. If South Carolina’s nullification effort is passed into law, the federal government will drag that law back down the path to the Supreme Court, where it is likely to receive a chilly reception.
Then again, many suits challenging the legality of various aspects of the immense health care reform program are still pending, including a recent addition that charges the federal government (specifically the IRS) with violating the language of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act itself, by imposing employer mandates beyond the authority granted in the law Congress passed. There might be room for South Carolina to resist implementation of these dubious aspects of ObamaCare.
Perhaps the state’s lawyers relish the battle that will ensue when their Freedom of Health Care Protection Act is inevitably challenged by the federal government. That’s one way to get some headline coverage from the national media, which is otherwise not much interested in what either state politicians or protesting citizens think of President Obama’s glorious health care reforms. Those headlines would be arriving at a moment when public dissatisfaction with ObamaCare is peaking, and it’s becoming a political liability for Democrats in the 2014 elections.
South Carolina’s Attorney General, Alan Wilson, sounds like he’s up for the challenge, based on comments he made after the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare:
Attorney General Wilson’s father is also a noted critic of ObamaCare.
Dr. Walter Williams of George Mason University, whose work appears frequently at HUMAN EVENTS, testified in favor of the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act before a South Carolina House subcommittee in March. The Greenville Post provided this video of his testimony, which explores the history of state nullification efforts:
An interesting gesture of defiance that seems entirely within the legal powers of South Carolina – although possibly annoying to the state taxpayers who would have to fund it – involves using the state tax system to over-ride the notorious individual and employer mandates of ObamaCare. The State explains how it would work:
The bill would prohibit the state or any of its political subdivisions, including local governments or schools boards, from forming or participating in state health-insurance exchanges. It also would give tax deductions to individuals or businesses equal to the amount of any federal taxes or penalties that they have to pay for not complying with the health-care law’s requirements, including buying health insurance or providing it to employees.
The deductions would cost the state $2.6 million — a small cost to help those who opt out of buying insurance, [State Rep. Greg] Delleney said.
The Freedom of Health Care Protection Act will now proceed to the South Carolina Senate for review.