An amendment worth little: Making a point when there is no point to make
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 26, 2012 | 2023 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabamians love to tweak the nose of the federal government. Many residents take pleasure in telling Washington that “you can’t make us do what we don’t want to do,” even when it is clear that Washington can and often does.

A classic example is Amendment 6 on the November ballot, an innocuously worded little bit of drivel that announces to anyone who might be listening that the Alabama Constitution would “prohibit any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system” — if voters approve, of course.

Everyone who has been paying attention knows this is the state GOP’s tilt at the Obamacare windmill, a Republican effort to tell Washington that Congress may pass laws but we don’t have to obey them.

But, we do. The U.S. Constitution is pretty clear on the matter — check out Article VI, Clause 2 — and there is a long list of legal precedents that support the federal government in cases like this.

Just because you do not like a law does not mean you can disobey it.

However, when earlier judges in lower courts cast doubts on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Alabama Republicans saw their chance to send a “we don’t like it” message to the president and let those who wanted to opt out of the program opt out.

What Republican legislators (and a few Democrats) did not like was the law mandated that people buy insurance or pay a fine. This amendment was their response.

That message is still there, but when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the law, including the individual mandate, was indeed constitutional, the message was all Alabama’s amendment seems to be.

So it follows that when the Affordable Care Act plan goes into effect, Alabama and other protesting states will have to abide by the law, just as the U.S. Constitution and the legal precedent says it should.

And hospital emergency rooms that are overrun with people who have no insurance will enjoy at least some relief from the burden they have been forced to bear.

The Star’s editorial board recommends a no vote on Amendment 6.
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