Oklahoma has been passing legislation to reverse the tide of liberalism and political correctness at a rather stunning pace. Last year it passed a law forbidding its courts to use sharia or other foreign law. In January, a federal judge of the Tenth Circuit in Denver overturned the law which had been passed by a 70% majority in a referendum. The possibility of an appeal to a three-judge 10th Circuit panel still remains open. Its abortion law requiring that the mother first view an ultrasound and listen to a description of the fetus before proceeding with an abortion was also struck down.
Oklahoma’s citizens have plenty of heart, and in keeping with William F. Buckley’s admonition, they are conservatives attempting to stand athwart history yelling “stop!” Their success in courts ruling on constitutionality has not matched their zeal. Which brings me to the latest attempt to turn back the tide of federal interference with state prerogatives. They will need all the help they can get from St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
Other states have sued the federal government over Obamacare, and just lost in an appalling and surprising ruling from the Supreme Court. Some of those states and others are trying to figure out how to dismantle Obamacare piecemeal with requests for waivers and exemptions as well as using the state’s own financial resources to detour Obamacare. But Oklahoma may be going the whole way. Well, almost the whole way.
Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze (R) will shortly be introducing a bill in the legislature purporting to nullify Obamacare. This is not the first time Ritze has introduced this bill, but it seems to have grown some teeth since the Supreme Court decision. The bill essentially says that regardless of what other reasons the Supreme Court may have had for upholding Obamacare, the socialized medicine bill is still a violation of Oklahoma’s Tenth Amendment sovereignty. Ritze contends that the state has its own separate right to nullify a federal law the state considers unconstitutional.
And here’s the beauty part. The bill also provides for criminal action, including fines and jail, for any federal agent who attempts to enter Oklahoma to enforce the Health Care Act. Ritze says that this is not one of those namby-pamby non-binding resolutions setting out the “sense of the state.” It’s a by-gosh criminal statute and he defies the federal government to do anything about it.
He mocked prior resolutions by saying: “I’m not letting chicken politicians get out of this by saying ‘Well, I voted for some non-binding resolution saying that Obamacare was unconstitutional. Doesn’t that count for something?’ Well, no, not really. Resolutions don’t do anything. In fact they can make things worse because politicians think that at least it’s doing something, and after they voted for the resolution, they think ‘well, at least we tried.’” But what resolutions really say is “Hey , Feds, we don’t really agree with what you’re doing, but I guess we’ll accept it if we have to. Thanks, bye.”
Here’s the wording of the proposed statute: “Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government or any employee of a corporation providing services to the United State government that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this act shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000.00 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding fiveyears, or both.”
If that’s not the first cannonball lobbed directly at the feds, it’s at least a shot across the bow of the good ship Federal Government. Still, as much as I admire their spirit, the Oklahoma legislators should consider a couple of things. South Carolina didn’t fare too well after Sumter. More recently, Texas attempted to pass a nullification bill called HB1937. It got a lot of buzz and some enthusiastic support from Texans who hate the Transportation Safety Agency. The enthusiasm died quickly after the legislature received a simple letter from the Department of Justice threatening to declare Texas a “no-fly zone” if the bill passed.
Nevertheless, I can’t help admiring Sooner spirit. They do not go gentle into that good night. The bill may pass and get the signature of the governor. I give it about five minutes before a court, any court, declares the nullification unconstitutional and issues an injunction. And I don’t think it will fare any better as it moves up the chain of appeals. But ya gotta love any state that threatens to jail federal agents for enforcing socialized medicine. Sometimes lost causes are the best causes.
For those of you who were having salacious thoughts, the photo I used to intro the article was chosen solely to demonstrate the great spirit shown by Oklahomans on every occasion. What did you expect me to post—a picture of Gordon MacRae?