The South Carolina state House on Wednesday passed a so-called “nullification” bill that is declares President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to be “null and void,” and criminalizes it’s implementation.
The South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act was passed by a state House vote of 65 to 39. The bill intends to “prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for violating this article.”
The measure would allow the state Attorney General “to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction” any person who is believed to be causing harm with the implementation of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Any South Carolina taxpayer who is forced to pay a penalty due to the federal health care mandate would be able to deduct the full amount of the penalty from their state taxes.
Additionally, the measure would outlaw state and local government from creating or using non-profit health care exchanges a outlined by the health care reform law.
States rights advocates see nullification as a viable alternative to secession because they claim the state has authority under the Tenth Amendment to invalidate unconstitutional legislation.
But many constitutional scholars believe that the Tenth Amendment is too vague to be used as a way for states to usurp federal authority on key issues.
“To say that the Tenth Amendment somehow empowers states or gives them state sovereignty is just reading way too much into the text,” John Marshall Law School law professor Steven Schwinn told CNN in 2010. “The Tenth Amendment just can’t bear that weight.”
South Carolina’s Obamacare nullification bill was introduced in the state Senate on Thursday and referred to the the state Committee on Finance.
In her State of the State address earlier this year, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) pledged not to accept the president’s health care reform law.
“South Carolina does not want, and cannot afford, the president’s health care plan,” she said. “Not now, and not ever. To that end, we will not pursue the type of government-run health exchanges being forced on us by Washington. Despite the rose-colored rhetoric coming out of D.C., these exchanges are nothing more than a way to make the state do the federal government’s bidding in spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on insurance subsidies that we can’t afford.”
Haley has not indicated if she would sign the South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act.
[Image via Mary Austin, Creative Commons licensed]