Sen. Long responds to SB 230 criticism
Thursday, January 31, 2013 9:00 PM
Below is the response that State Sen. Dave Long is sending in response to e-mails he receives regarding Senate Bill 230, authored by State Sen. Phil Boots:
Thank you for your recent email concerning SB 230. You may have been told that, as the leader of the Senate, I have placed a "hold" on this bill, which is correct. You may also have been told that this is because I side with President Obama and support Obamacare. This is absolutely FALSE.
SB 230 attempts to nullify Obamacare by claiming that the State of Indiana has the ability to prevent its enactment. It would make it a Class D felony for any federal official to attempt to enforce its rules and regulations within State. For those who fear the ramifications of Obamacare, including the bankrupting of our national Treasury and destruction of our private health care system (both of which I believe may well happen), this may sound like a potential solution.
But there is fatal problem with SB 230: It is unconstitutional.
I have been a vocal critic of Obamacare from the outset-of its ill-conceived, bureaucratic approach to addressing our health care challenges; of the shameless tactics utilized to jam it through the legislative process in Congress; and of the Supreme Court's dubious reasoning in upholding its constitutionality.
I suspect that I share these and many other frustrations with a significant number of Hoosiers and fellow Americans, but the fact remains that the United States Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare as constitutional. This makes it the law of the land, for better or worse. And under the oath of office I took as an Indiana State Senator, called for in Article 15, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution, I am bound to uphold the Constitutions of both Indiana and the United States.
While I certainly identify with the spirit behind SB 230, there is lengthy precedent, anchored in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, that precludes states from nullifying federal laws that have been deemed constitutional (commonly called the Supremacy Clause). Passage of SB 230 would only lead to Indiana becoming entangled in federal litigation that would cost significant taxpayer dollars and would quickly prove to be a waste of time. As a conservative who has made it a priority to watch the State's bottom line, the idea of wasting taxpayer money to make a futile political gesture strikes me as irresponsible.
Having said all that, I am not simply willing to give up the legal fight against federal overreach-whether in the health care arena or any other area.
States have long had a constitutional tool available to them to resist the overreach of the federal government: a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Under Article V of the US Constitution, the States are granted the power to amend the US Constitution via a convention that is called by 2/3 of the States (34).
James Madison, known as the Father of the U.S. Constitution, felt that this was the critical tool provided to the States to control the inevitable overreach and growth of the federal government. Madison was the mastermind behind the fundamental concept of checks and balances found in the Constitution, and believed a state driven convention was the essential check upon federal power.
Unfortunately, fear of a runaway convention, where the law of unintended consequences could lead to undesirable and unwanted changes to the Constitution, has thus far prevented such a convention from occurring since the last one in 1787. However, new model legislation is available that would allow a state to maintain firm control over its delegates to such a convention. This would eliminate the possibility of a rogue delegate, and therefore prevent a runaway convention from occurring.
I have long supported this avenue as the single best way to reinstate the power of the States. In the next few weeks, I will introduce a Joint Resolution calling for a state driven constitutional convention. I have been in contact with legislative leaders from other states around the country, and believe there is significant support for this effort.
For everyone who believes in states' rights and the need to limit the abusive overreach of the federal government, I ask that they join me in support of this idea. It is time to take back our freedom and our constitutional rights. But it must be done in a legal and constitutionally sound manner. This is the way to do it.
State Senator David Long is the President Pro Tempore in the Indiana State Senate. He is a Republican who represents portions of Allen County.