Idaho previously passed a bill last year to outlaw the individual health insurance mandate, going against the federal health care law. However, that bill and its text appear to be more a means to instigate the lawsuit against the federal government -- the new one is much broader in its assertion of a state right to nullify federal laws.
However, legislators were also informed by the office of state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden -- a Republican who is one of the state attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of health care reform -- that unilateral nullification by the state of Idaho is illegal.
And as the local Fox affiliate in Boise has reported, Wasden himself was very clear:
"Can a state pass a statute that un-does or nullifies a federal law?" Wasden postulated. "... the answer is 'no.'"
In addition, the attorney general's office issued an opinion at the request of a Democratic legislator, written by Assistant Chief Deputy Brian Kane, which in the space of four pages provides a full refutation of all the bases of nullification. Kane also wrote: "The alpha and omega of the nullification theory, in sum, rest upon rejecting the principle that the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land."
However, the Republican sponsors of nullification in Idaho were not to be deterred. This past weekend, a group of state Representatives co-authored a strongly worded rebuttal in the Idaho Statesman. It reads in part:
Too many people are under the mistaken impression that the state government must in every case be a mere rubber stamp of the federal government. We see this year after year and time and time again
The bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., really believe that their superior knowledge is the instrument of an emerging "Shangri-La." This attitude is killing our state and the principles under which our country was founded. Be it the introduction of predatory wolves, health care, mining, air and water quality and myriad other subjects, the federal government has butted into areas not delegated under the U.S. Constitution. We must act. The time is now.