Featured Column Library
« Return to Special Reports
CALIFORNIA SHOULD JOIN THE LAWSUIT
State Senator Tom Harman
March 24, 2010
[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from State Senator Tom Harman, who is a candidate for California State Attorney General - Flash]
If you are new to the FlashReport, please check out the main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.
Yesterday, in my official capacity as a California State Senator, I sent a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown urging him to join the 15 states that have pledged to sue the federal government for its blatantly unconstitutional and economically catastrophic healthcare bill. Today I held a press conference with a number of my Republican Senate colleagues following President Obama’s official bill signing.
Not only did President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and others completely disregard the outcry from the American people against this bill, they used every enticement, kickback and strong-armed tactic to move congressional votes into their camp. This bill and the process by which it was approved, represents the worst example of American politics.
However, now the people representing the states have the ability to stand up and fight this unconstitutional federal government takeover of the healthcare system. Below is an excerpt of the letter I sent to AG Brown: I strongly believe the federal healthcare bill is an unconstitutional expansion of federal authority under the Commerce Clause. This bill assumes that congressional power over the states, their citizens, and their consumers' everyday economic decisions is vast and limitless-a position that is constitutionally untenable, completely unprecedented, and contradictory to fundamental principles of federalism and limited government. Supreme Court cases such as United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000) limit the ability of Congress to regulate non-economic activities. Furthermore, the health care bill does not even attempt to regulate any type of activity, economic or not; instead, it represents an over-reaching attempt by the federal government to make consumers' decisions for them. Existing law is absolutely clear that Congress may not force consumers to buy, sell or contract for any product. Further, the health-care bill imposes an unfunded mandate upon states that callously ignores the precarious fiscal condition in which California and other struggling states are currently embroiled. States with high populations of indigent individuals would be impacted far more drastically than other states; in a time of dire fiscal crisis, such an incongruity becomes a glaring inequality. And in light of the corrupt bargains offered to certain states to secure this bill's passage, the Equal Protection Clause appears devoid of meaning in both letter and spirit. Although the billions of dollars in taxes proposed by the health-care bill during a recession are unconscionable in their own right, these taxes are constitutionally impermissible because they are intended to coerce individual citizens to act in a sphere that the federal government cannot regulate. Just as Congress cannot mandate that an individual purchase a product, nor can Congress use its power of taxation to penalize an individual's inactivity as a means of forcing the citizen to comply with Congress's wishes. Once again, existing law is perfectly clear on this matter. Additionally, in a symbolic display of reckless hubris completely foreign to a country that values a government which is representative of the people and possessed of strictly limited powers, the President and Congress have seemingly suspended the constitutional requirement that a bill signed into law be passed in identical versions by both houses of Congress. Contrary to Washington's approach to health-care, in a constitutional republic the means used to create legislation are just as important as the ends legislators hope to accomplish. The Constitution of the United States is designed to frustrate efforts to render the sovereign states subordinate in every policy arena to the federal government. According to Thomas Jefferson, "the foundation of the Constitution" is the Tenth Amendment, and he warned that "to take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition." With this healthcare bill, this President and this Congress take not a step but a leap into this boundless field of unlimited federal power. This leap promises economic and legal disaster for California and her neighbors. For these reasons, I urge you as California's Attorney General to use your powers as our state's preeminent law enforcement official to protect our Constitution, our state and our liberties.
________________________________________________Tom Harman is a California State Senator representing the 33rd District, along Orange County's coastline. He is a candidate for Attorney General, and his campaign website is www.tomharmanforag.com.