Ploy to kill health-care law has roots in history

Rep. Rob Bishop is at the fore of an effort in the House to chip away at the health-care reform law via an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a state’s rights move that seems unlikely to get far, but it represents a creative way by Bishop and the tea-party forces to draw attention to their war against the Obama administration’s new health-care law.

In the 19th century, the United States was roiled by a series of state’s rights fights. Of course there were the rifts that exploded into the South’s secession and the Civil War. But I’m most reminded of the Nullification Crisis, in which South Carolina tried to “nullify” federal tariffs and backed down only under threat of federal military intervention by the Jackson administration.

Today’s “nullifiers” will make a lot of noise and display indignant, puffed-up chests, but their quixotic crusade is a doomed endeavor, useful only for political campaign material against those evil feds.

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6 Responses to Ploy to kill health-care law has roots in history

  1. Bob Becker says:

    In re: “states’s rights” as a constitutional concept. A few weeks ago, after reading yet another post claiming “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution because those precise words are not in the Constitution, I got curious. I found an on-line searchable copy of the U.S. Constitution and did a search for the phrase “states’ rights” in the text. Nothing came up.

    I haven’t taken the time to read through a print copy double checking the digital search [always prudent to double check], but if the search result was correct, and the term “states’ rights” does not appear in the Constitution, then by the same logic [politely so-called] many on the right apply to “separation of church and state,” wouldn’t we have to conclude that the concept of states’ rights is “not in the Constitution?”

    Just wondering….

  2. Mark Shenefelt says:

    Great point, Bob.

    It often depends on what side of an issue you want to support, and out goes any consistency. A couple of examples: People oppose abortion to protect a life but don’t bat an eye to call for the execution of a killer; people support abortion to allow women to kill their unwanted fetuses but don’t blink in protesting the death penalty.

    Personally, I oppose abortion and the death penalty. It seems consistent, at least. I’m not falling back on the Constitution for support, either, or trying to convene a seance with the Founding Fathers..

  3. Janice Gully says:

    Bob, the section commonly referred to as “states’ rights” is in the 10th amendment of the Bill of Rights – Powers of the States and People.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

  4. Bob Becker says:


    I am familiar with the 10th Amendment. And I note it does not contain the term “states’ rights.” And so, by the logic of those on the right who claim “separation of church and state” is not a concept contained in the Constitution because those exact words are not in it, “states’ rights” too must be a concept not contained in the Constitution because those exact words are not in it.

    The fact is, there are many key concepts contained in the Constitution though they are not explicitly stated there — “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” and “states’ rights” and “separation of church and state” being four of the most significant.

  5. Charles Trentelman says:

    Am I the only one who remembers that “States Rights” used to be a euphamism for “segragation?” It was as recently as the 1960s and 1970s. George Wallace was a huge fan.

    mr. Bishop forgets that the states rights issue — particularly as to ignoring the part of the Constitution that says the Constitution is the supreme law of the land — was settled pretty conclusively in 1865…

    This is painted as a way to take power back from the federal government, but it’s really just a power grab by state legislators. Mostly it’s pontificating because Bishop knows the chances of a costitutional amendment of this sort passing are close to nil.

  6. Dovie says:

    I am neither “for” abortion or the death penalty. However, Roe v Wade is a compromise position. Prior to viability, the woman has the right to an abortion. Post viability, the baby has the right to life.

    Medicine has improved and babies can be saved that could not in 1970. Maybe they need to change the Federal age of viability to 23 weeks. 40 is term. States have the option to set their own. Utah is 12 weeks.

    The current religiously-fueled anti-abortion movement would make Plan B illegal. Plan B is hormones (the same effect is obtained by taking 5 birth control pills at once; google Yuzpe method) used within 72 hrs of intercourse which is prior to implantation.

    Many abortions are actually clinically indicated and the danger to the mother might be somewhat subjective: one man might think she should take a risk that another man does not.

    Think about whether that is really reasonable. What other countries have such strict abortion laws? How are decisions made when a mothers life might be in danger? In Iran, a panel of 6 men has to certify she can abort and, guess what, she’s dead by then. What group are we trying to join? The Third World?

    It applies here – if abortion is punishable by 10 yrs in prison for the doctor, it is going to impact those decisions. Again, what countries do that?

    The fact is, it’s really hard to write an abortion law. Roe balances rights pretty well and leaves the decision to the woman & her doctor.
    No one is pro-abortion. The only question is who gets to choose.

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