N.J. Republican’s bill would jail gov’t. workers for enforcing health reforms

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 15:57 EDT
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A bill proposed by a state assemblywoman in New Jersey would have government employees thrown in jail for up to five years if they attempt to enforce any part of the health reforms passed by Congress last year.

Its sponsor — Assemblywoman Alison Little McHose (R) — reportedly copied much of the bill’s text word for word from the Tenth Amendment Center, a fringe conservative group that promotes states’ rights over the federal government. The parallel was first spotted by reporter Matt Friedman at The New Jersey Star Ledger.

If passed, the law would mandate a $1,000 fine for any government worker or contractor who upholds federal laws pertaining to health care. It would also recommend prison terms up to five years, although it leaves that decision to judges who would potentially hear prosecutions brought under the proposed law.

The bill, however, has to overcome a significant roadblock: the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government “supremacy” over the states. The Supreme Court has long held that the federal government supercedes the states in matters where it is acting within its constitutional authority.

Unless the Supreme Court throws out the health reforms — which is unlikely — McHose’s legislation has little chance of ever being enforced. Were it to pass the New Jersey legislature and become law, the federal government would take the matter to the courts and could potentially withhold funding for numerous state programs.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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