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Story Archives: Obamacare vs. Louisiana rights
|Obamacare vs. Louisiana rights|
Louisiana isn't shy about asserting its sovereignty, so it isn't very surprising that there are some here fighting Obamacare with state's rights.
With the election of Scott Brown of Massachusetts to the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy, it seems less likely the federal government will take over health care. In the event it still does, however, there is a bill recently authored by Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, alleging Obamacare is illegal.
Crowe has also sent a letter to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to get an opinion on, among other things, the constitutionality of the health care bill making its way through Congress.
The bill Crowe wants to bring to the Louisiana Legislature challenges Obamacare on three constitutional provisions: the Commerce Clause, Equal Protections Clause and the Tenth Amendment that — pesky article in the Bill of Rights that reads, "The powers delegated to the United State by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
For Louisiana, having the Tenth Amendment in the federal constitution wasn't enough. So there would be no mistake, in 1998 lawmakers here took the time to reiterate the Tenth Amendment in our own constitution with Article 26, which reads, "The people of this state have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free and sovereign state; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled."
To up the ante some more, Louisiana passed a resolution last year that "Memorializes Congress to affirm Louisiana's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and to demand that the federal government halt its practices of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States of America." That resolution was also authored by Crowe.
For those not familiar with the Commerce Clause, it's that part of the Constitution that gives the Congress the power to "regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." Crowe seeks Caldwell's opinion on whether forcing individuals to enter into contracts with health insurance companies, which people have to do under Obamacare or face fines or jail time, is an overreach of the Commerce Clause. As Crowe rhetorically asks the attorney general, "Is there any precedent where federal government has used the Commerce Clause to make individual citizens do business with a private company?"
For the bill's contention with nationalized health care and its problem with the Equal Protections Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment, you don't have to look any further than U.S. Senator Ben Nelson's now infamous "Cornhusker kickback." To assure Nelson, a senator from Nebraska, would vote for Obamacare, his state was given an annual allotment of $100 million for Medicaid ... forever. It's kind of embarrassing when you consider the paltry one-time $300 million Medicaid payoff our own Sen. Mary Landreau took for her vote. Huey Long has to be spinning like a top under his Baton Rouge statue that Nebraska, of all places, can out corrupt Louisiana. Louisiana citizens as well as citizens of 48 other states will unfairly have to shoulder expense for Medicaid expansions in Obamacare while Nebraska citizens won't. That's not supposed to happen, according to the Constitution.
While we are on Medicaid expense, it might be a good time to get to the unfunded mandate portion of Crowe's bill. Both the House and Senate versions of the people look to increase the number of people with some kind of health care insurance by expanding Medicaid, a program partly paid for with state dollars. While there are some federal matches to help compensate the cost, it won't be nearly enough to pay for the new numbers of Medicaid recipients. It's against the law for the federal government to impose spending on states without adequate compensation.
Last, but not least, is something that's sure to raise a few eyebrows in the Bible Belt. In Louisiana, no public money, federal or otherwise, is to be spent on elective abortions. Crowe ask Caldwell whether state statute or federal law would win out if Obama care provides money for such abortions.
It will be interesting to see how strongly Louisiana feels about standing up for its sovereignty in the face of Obamacare, as it will be interesting to see how arrogant the federal government will likely be by ignoring the law or finding ways to step over it.
It's not really that big of a problem for those who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution to ignore it when they want something. Landreau reminded us of that not long ago by dodging a question from a reporter on whether Obamacare is constitutional.
"Well, we're very lucky as members of the Senate to have constitutional lawyers on our staff, so I'll let them answer," she said.