Editorial: Practicality lacking in nullification plan

  • Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 12:01 a.m.

State lawmakers can work to fix our crumbling roads. They can help to ensure a better education for our children. They can craft serious and substantive ethics and tax reform.

Instead, our lawmakers are fast tracking a bill that will likely amount to little more than grandstanding.

The proposed bill, on special order in the S.C. Senate, essentially attempts to nullify Obamacare’s implementation in our state, despite the law being passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by President Obama. It also was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

The pushback is understandable, but still misguided. While the president has touted his signature law as being tied to “universal” and “affordable” health care, the program is costly, particularly for a country dealing with extensive entitlement costs. Signing up for coverage has also been a disaster with the program’s website continuing to face glitches.

A special committee, headed by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, has been set up to figure out the most effective and Constitutional way to push back against the law.

However, that responsibility is in the hands of Congress, not the state legislature.

Some state lawmakers have concentrated their efforts on nullification rights listed under the 10th Amendment.

Davis, speaking at a press conference in the rotunda of the State House in Columbia, pointed to this 18th century constitutional intent as a way to reject Obamacare in South Carolina.

However, the evolution of our country and changes to our national political climate have created a different reality in the 21st century.

While the relationship between state and federal law is a complex one, federal law is still the law of the land.

As with states approving the legalization of marijuana, it really comes down to enforcement. Attitudes have changed and it’s still unclear how the federal government will handle marijuana legislation in states such as Colorado and Washington. Our state’s issue with Obamacare likely won’t receive the same treatment. It’s the president’s signature law and has been upheld by the country’s highest court. The likelihood that it will be nullified is slim.

State’s rights shouldn’t be trivialized. As written, the law covering Obamacare actually required states to expand Medicaid. The Supreme Court wisely said that wasn’t permissible and left that decision up to the states.

However, they also approved its overall legality. The state’s dodging of that decision will be a disastrously uphill battle at the state level.

Lawmakers should concentrate their efforts on creating meaningful and effective change in our state. The nullification bill is unlikely to achieve that outcome.

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