• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS
61°
Sunday September 21, 2014
View complete forecast
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Local Business Search
Stock Summary
Dow17279.7413.75
Nasdaq4579.79-13.64
S&P 5002010.40-0.96
AEP53.280.54
Comcast56.74-0.11
GE26.290.08
ITT Exelis18.51-0.15
LNC55.64-0.05
Navistar37.03-0.62
Raytheon103.350.87
SDI24.365-0.585
Verizon50.350.66
COMMUNITY VOICE

States should pursue constitutional remedy to overreach of Obamacare

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

The recent opinion piece by Connie Kovas Moreno concerning legislation introduced in the Indiana General Assembly to nullify the federal health care law (“Long needs to allow discussion on Obamacare bill or tell us why not,” Feb. 5) deserves a response. I appreciate the author’s engagement on such critical issues, but her conclusions on my positions are misguided and incorrect.

The legislation in question — SB 230 — attempts to nullify Obamacare by claiming that Indiana has the ability to prevent its enactment. For those who fear the ramifications of Obamacare, including the bankrupting of our national treasury and destruction of our private health care system (both of which I believe may well happen), this may sound like a potential solution.

But there is a fatal problem with SB 230: It is unconstitutional.

I have been a vocal critic of Obamacare from the outset — of its ill-conceived, bureaucratic approach to addressing our health care challenges; of the shameless tactics utilized to jam it through the legislative process in Congress; and of the Supreme Court’s dubious reasoning in upholding its constitutionality.

I suspect that I share these and many other frustrations with a significant number of Hoosiers, but the fact remains that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare as constitutional. This makes it the law of the land, for better or worse. And under the oath of office I took as an Indiana state senator, called for in Article 15, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution, I am bound to uphold the constitutions of both Indiana and the United States.

While I certainly identify with the spirit behind SB 230, there is lengthy precedent, anchored in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, that precludes states from nullifying federal laws that have been deemed constitutional (commonly called the Supremacy Clause). Passage of SB 230 would only lead to Indiana becoming entangled in federal litigation that would cost significant taxpayer dollars and would quickly prove to be a waste of time. As a conservative, the idea of wasting taxpayer money to make a futile political gesture strikes me as irresponsible.

Having said all that, I am not simply willing to give up the legal fight against federal overreach.

States have long had a constitutional tool available to them to hold the federal government accountable: a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the states are granted the power to amend the U.S. Constitution via a convention that is called by two-thirds of the states (34 states).

James Madison, known as the Father of the U.S. Constitution, felt that this was the critical tool provided to the states to control the inevitable overreach and growth of the federal government. Madison was the mastermind behind the fundamental concept of checks and balances found in the Constitution, and believed a state-driven convention was the essential check upon federal power.

Unfortunately, fear of a runaway convention, where the law of unintended consequences could lead to undesirable and unwanted changes to the Constitution, has thus far prevented such a convention from occurring. However, model legislation is available that would allow a state to maintain firm control over its delegates to such a convention. This would prevent a runaway convention from occurring.

I have long supported this avenue as the best way to reinstate the power of the states.

Next week, I will introduce a resolution calling for a state-driven convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The convention would deal with two specific topics: limiting the commerce clause and taxing powers of the federal government. I have been in contact with legislative leaders from other states around the country and believe there is significant support for this effort.

I ask everyone who believes in states’ rights and the need to limit the abusive overreach of the federal government to join me in support of this idea.

I am sorry that my action in putting SB 230 on hold has been misconstrued in any way as supporting Obamacare. Nothing could be further from the truth. But belief in the need to strictly adhere to the Constitution cuts both ways. You can’t ask for the Constitution to be followed judiciously, but then say “never mind” when an idea you support doesn’t pass constitutional muster.

It is time to take back our freedom and our constitutional rights. But it must be done in a legal and constitutionally sound manner. This is the way to do it.

David Long (R-Fort Wayne) is Indiana Senate president pro tem.