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.