Idaho passes law promising legal challenge to individual mandate in ObamaCare

Virginia passed a similar bill but this is the first to get the governor’s John Hancock. Commenters seem excited about it but I’m not sure why. Is it the federalist element, or the fact that people are now coming out of the woodwork to file lawsuits as ObamaCare nears passage, or something else?

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on Wednesday became the first state chief executive to sign a measure requiring his attorney general to sue Congress if it passes health reforms that force residents to buy insurance. Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states nationwide.

Constitutional law experts say the move is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states. But the movement reflects a growing national frustration with President President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul…

“What the Idaho Health Freedom Act says is that the citizens of our state won’t be subject to another federal mandate or turn over another part of their life to government control,” Otter said.

It’s a nice gesture but basically pointless. You don’t need a state to get involved to challenge the individual mandate; every citizen will be required to buy insurance so every citizen will have standing to sue on their own. You too can take The One to court if you have the time and money. It’s not really a Tenth Amendment issue either. Grassroots conservatives like to imagine that as some sort of shield that can block implementation of O-Care at the state level, but that’s not how it works. By its own terms, the Amendment doesn’t apply to powers delegated to the federal government; the real legal question is whether the Commerce Clause empowers the feds to force people to buy insurance. If the Supreme Court decides that it doesn’t, then the mandate is unconstitutional and unenforceable. No need for the Tenth Amendment to get involved. As for the fact that 37 states have bills like this pending — which Idaho’s governor calls a constitutional “critical mass” — that’s super, but “pending” doesn’t mean likely to become law. And it surely doesn’t guarantee that a legislature which narrowly passes a similar bill would sign off on a federal constitutional amendment repealing ObamaCare (or, at least, the individual mandate). Not so critical a mass, in other words.

But still, a nice gesture, and useful as a data point in the news cycle about how unhappy some red and purple states are with this boondoggle. Vote wisely, Blue Dogs.

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