Virginia and many other states have pending lawsuits against the federal government’s takeover of health care. These cases represent important battles in the fight to restore the constitutional balance of power between the states and the federal government that is necessary to maintain individual liberty.
For many years, the creeping overreach and centralization of power in Washington has eroded our foundational constitutional framework.
The U.S. Constitution provides to the federal government only certain limited powers, such as providing for national defense or regulating commerce between the states and other nations. The Bill of Rights to the Constitution emphatically protects individual rights and plainly expresses that all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.
Critics of the court challenges to the health care law think that devotion to the Constitution and local decision-making must give way to their centralized vision of America with the federal government requiring that each citizen must purchase health care insurance by force of law.
But Virginians understand that the issue is not just about health care, it is about the rule of law and liberty. If the federal government has the power to tell you that you must buy health insurance, then the federal government is unrestrained and omnipotent over our lives.
The American Revolution was fought to free us from the tyranny of the British king and establish representative government and secure individual rights, not to cede our hard-fought God-given rights to another unresponsive government on the north banks of the Potomac that ignores us.
The people understand that the Constitution protects American citizens from unfettered, remote and out-of-touch power in Washington. Hence, the Constitution established the idea of federalism, where the national government had limited enumerated powers and the states, which are closer to the people and would be responsive to local concerns, retained their general powers of practical and responsive governance.
Another reason why the federal government should not be permitted to usurp the powers of the states is that it prevents the states from serving as “laboratories of innovation.” Many of the best ideas come not from Washington, but from the states, localities and the private sector.
Welfare reform is a good example of innovative policy led by the states. Before the federal government enacted welfare reform in the mid-1990s, Virginia and other states led the way by reforming the failed welfare system that promoted dependency and waste, and instead transformed it into a short-term helping-hand on the way to the
dignity of work.
Ultimately, the federal takeover of health care, with its mandate that people purchase insurance or face a penalty by the government, is unconstitutional. The federal government does not have the constitutional power to tell us, the people, what we must buy.
The Virginia General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell wisely enacted a law prohibiting the federal government from exercising this unlawful power on Virginians. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is challenging the federal health care law.
And federal Judge Henry Hudson, who was nominated by then-Sen. John Warner and me, will be soon ruling on Virginia’s challenge to the federal law. As Virginia and other states challenge the massive federal health care intrusion, we should not lose hope that the Constitution and the will of the people to preserve freedom will prevail in Virginia and for all the people in all the States of our Union.
George Allen is the former governor of Virginia and the commonwealth’s former junior senator.cripps Howard News Service.