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South Carolina Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Make It Illegal To Implement ObamaCare

One South Carolina State Legislator apparently thinks he has a silver bullet against the Affordable Care Act:

Nullification is yet again picking up steam in Dixie.

Pursuing an archaic legal theory that punctuated pre-Civil War disputes between the federal government and states, South Carolina state Rep. Bill Chumley last week pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would criminalize implementation of President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law.

If his bill becomes law, any state official caught enforcing the healthcare law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and “must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Federal officials caught enforcing the law, however, would be given stiffer punishment under the proposal.

Any federal employee or contractor enforcing the law “is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both,” the bill proposes.

“I think we’re within our rights to do this,” Chumley explained toU.S. News. “It’s an obligation, I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect the people.”

Actually, no you’re not. If the idea of state nullification of Federal Law wasn’t completely discredited by the Civil War, the Supreme Court put that issue to rest in Cooper v. Aaron when it said:

Article VI of the Constitution makes the Constitution the “supreme Law of the Land.” In 1803, Chief Justice Marshall, speaking for a unanimous Court, referring to the Constitution as “the fundamental and paramount law of the nation,” declared in the notable case of Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177, that “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” This decision declared the basic principle that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution, and that principle has ever since been respected by this Court and the Country as a permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system. It follows that the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment enunciated by this Court in the Brown case is the supreme law of the land, and Art. VI of the Constitution makes it of binding effect on the States “any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Every state legislator and executive and judicial officer is solemnly committed by oath taken pursuant to Art. VI, cl. 3, “to support this Constitution.” Chief Justice Taney, speaking for a unanimous Court in 1859, said that this requirement reflected the framers’ “anxiety to preserve it [the Constitution] in full force, in all its powers, and to guard against resistance to or evasion of its authority, on the part of a State . . . .” Ableman v. Booth, 21 How. 506, 524.

No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it. Chief Justice Marshall spoke for a unanimous Court in saying that: “If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery . . . .” United States v. Peters, 5 Cranch 115, 136. A Governor who asserts a [358 U.S. 1, 19] power to nullify a federal court order is similarly restrained. If he had such power, said Chief Justice Hughes, in 1932, also for a unanimous Court, “it is manifest that the fiat of a state Governor, and not the Constitution of the United States, would be the supreme law of the land; that the restrictions of the Federal Constitution upon the exercise of state power would be but impotent phrases . . . .” Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378, 397 -398.

At this point, it’s unclear if there’s anyone who actually supports this thing beyond the legislator who proposed it and, apparently, a State Senator who apparently agreed to co-sponsor the measure in the State Senate. So, we’re likely talking about one of the tens of thousands of bills introduced every year in state legislatures that never see the light of day. Nonetheless, one wonders when the stupid stuff like this will come to an end.

If by some chance this bill did pass both Houses of the South Carolina Legislature and get signed into law, though, there’s absolutely no question that it would be considered unconstitutional, and South Carolina would be a laughingstock.

H/T: Balloon Juice

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    Nonetheless, one wonders when the stupid stuff like this will come to an end.

    Not in the forseeable future…..LOL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  2. Fog says:

    “Nonetheless, one wonders when the stupid stuff like this will come to an end.”

    These guys remind me of Messala after the chariot race in Ben Hur. As he lies there, broken and bloody, his last words are “It’s not over, Judah…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    How sad is it that Alabama returns Roy Moore to its Supreme Court, and the best they can do is 3rd place in the Crazy Contest, finishing behind Arizona (the Birther State) and South Carolina (the We’ll Fire on Fort Sumter Over Obamacare State).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  4. rudderpedals says:

    South Carolina is still too small to be a country but it’s just the right size for a modern day lunatic asylum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Actually, I rather hope this nitwit pushes the matter further. It might do our General Assembly a world of good to see U.S. Marshals hauling him off to prison for attempting to thwart a Federal court order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  6. scott says:

    Zombies, They never stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Time for yet another legal refresher course in yet another legislative body. Tis rich with irony.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  8. legion says:

    You remember a couple of article ago, when I said this:

    The fact that SC still considers Mark Sanford a viable candidate for any position of responsibility pretty much tells you all you need to know…

    Well, I got news for you, Doug..

    there’s absolutely no question that it would be considered unconstitutional, and South Carolina would be a laughingstock.

    “would be” is the wrong tense for that…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  9. C. Clavin says:

    See also: Arizona Birthers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  10. Scott says:

    @C. Clavin: Someone tell the President the fever hasn’t broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  11. lankyloo says:

    South Carolina, you might have lost the war, but you keep winning on comedy open mic night. Good for you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  12. Justinian says:

    The proposal for nullification by a state representative from South Carolina will die for want of a second, and cannot be taken seriously. The underlying problem of the lack of credibility of a lot of what Washington is doing, though, warrants concern.

    Mr. Mataconis quotes the Supreme Court at length in the article above. Justice Marshal is quoted approvingly:

    It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.

    This quotation should be read in relation to the maxim, stated by Francis Bacon,

    ius dicere, non ius dare, to say the law, not give it.

    To the extent that the Supreme Court says the law, then the Supreme Court is acting on a foundation of sound doctrine, but whenever it gives or even fabricates the law, then its credibility is justly undermined. Those discontented with the current situation definitely believe the Court is doing much more than just saying what the Constitution means already. When courts give rather than merely say the law, the federal judiciary forfeits its status as “supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution,” for it is no longer an expositor at all, and has become a fabricator.

    Furthermore, Justice Marshall also wrote this memorable passage:

    Should Congress, in the execution of its powers, adopt measures which are prohibited by the Constitution; or should Congress, under the pretext of executing its powers, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not entrusted to the [federal] Government; it would become the painful duty of this tribunal, should a case requiring such a decision come before it, to say that such an act was not the law of the land.

    Many people who follow judicial and constitutional issues believe that the Court has simply abandoned the “painful duty” of nullifying acts of Congress that transcend its enumerated powers. It is then no wonder that at least one state representative is thinking about how to nullify “transcendent” acts of Congress by other means.

    Also, some points of history, for those who care enough to follow this issue.

    1. Nullification was a movement spearheaded by John Calhoun, Senator from South Carolina, and came to a head in 1832. It was not discredited by the Civil War but by Andrew Jackson, who sent federal troops to enforce the disputed tariff.

    2. The topic of Nullification was the tariff, which had a differential impact on the South than on the North. The issue of slavery was nowhere part of the Nullification movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  13. al-Ameda says:

    When is South Carolina going to secede …. again?

    If they aren’t, can they be evicted, or sold off to China?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. rodney dill says:

    @Fog: Or the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Justinian: Uh, dude–the Supreme Court doesn’t rule on laws per se. It rules on cases. So even if Congress passes an outrageously unconstitutional law, the Supreme Court won’t rule on the constitutionality of it until an actual case comes before it.

    Separation of powers, remember?

    (I will be charitable and assume that if you have any legal experience it’s been a long, long time since you took Con Law and you’ve been dealing with dog bite cases since then.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    If they aren’t, can they be evicted, or sold off to China?

    No, China doesn’t want it, but I hear El Salvador is looking for a place to dump their garbage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Justinian says:

    @grumpy realist: In reply to grumpy realist, who wrote:

    Uh, dude–the Supreme Court doesn’t rule on laws per se. It rules on cases.

    Ah, yes, but when a federal court hears the case, it hesitates not at all to declare a law or part of a law unconstitutional, provided of course it is a state law they are declaring void. The federal courts rule on laws all the time. I’ve seen it happen many times.

    Grumpy realist also wrote

    (I will be charitable and assume that if you have any legal experience it’s been a long, long time since you took Con Law and you’ve been dealing with dog bite cases since then.)

    I too will be charitable and believe that your teachers never told you about how ad hominem attacks do not constitute a valid form of argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0