A constitutional revolt in the US
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The federal lawsuits against last year’s health care overhaul were greeted with eye-rolling and snickers from many conventional legal scholars.There is much more.
Nobody’s laughing now.
A federal judge in Virginia ruled late last year that a key underpinning of the health care law stretches the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution past the breaking point, while another judge in Florida is expected to rule on Monday. Both cases are likely to proceed toward the Supreme Court.
And the challenges to the health care reform law are just the most visible sign of a broad, national flowering of state efforts to find shelter from the federal government in sometimes-neglected corners of the Constitution that touch conventional political hot buttons such as immigration and gun control, and exotic ones, such as citizenship and currency.
“This has been brewing for decades, and it just needed a catalyst to set it off. The Obama health care package happened to be that catalyst,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. “It emboldened us to assert states’ rights with regard to an array of different issues in which we are feeling that the federal government has overstepped its bounds.”
The model for this revival is the transformation of the Second Amendment from a hazily interpreted legal backwater to the core of a new gun-rights movement. And while the Constitution is often invoked, and even misquoted, for all manner of conservative causes, perhaps the truest meaning of the new phrase constitutional conservatism is found in the broad, imaginative and sometimes quirky new efforts to hem in the power of the federal government.
I think this was a challenge of necessity. With the Democrats in charge in Washington, it was the only route conservatives had to resist the bad policies of the Obama administration. That administration's over reach is the primary cause of this resistance in the court rooms. I think it will calm down if the GOP retakes the government in 2012 and starts doing things to unwind the Democrat mess.
However, the 10th Amendment should have some meaning and finding out what the limits of federal reach are should be a good thing.