In what seemed to an overwhelmingly uphill battle for the grassroots in South Carolina, a huge victory has been won, and won by an unexpectedly large margin.
After months of tireless work from various grassroots organizations and individuals, including several events held in places like Columbia and Greenville where hundreds and even thousands showed up in support, Bill Chumley’s bill, H.3101 “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act” passed a second reading in the House today by a vote of 65-34. (The roll call vote list can be read via this link.) The bill as written would declare Obamacare to be null and void because it is a blatantly unconstitutional piece of legislation.
H.3101 is based on the doctrine of “nullification” which goes back to Founding Fathers Jefferson and Madison who passed similar acts in their respective states of Virginia and Kentucky which became known as “The Resolutions of 1798.” Nullification was also used by states like Wisconsin to fight the unconstitutional fugitive slave laws of the 1850s which required citizens to turn over slaves to the federal authorities and made anyone who aided escaped slaves as criminals themselves.
In more modern times nullification was used in 2007 when 15 states passed nullification of the federal Real ID Act which caused the act to never be implemented by the federal government.
Opponents of nullification argue that according to the so-called “Supremacy Clause” in Article 6 of the US Constitution, that federal law is the final authority over any and all state laws, so therefore nullification is “illegal.” But advocates of nullification and state’s rights base their doctrine on the 10th Amendment, and they interpret the Supremacy Clause in its context which states that, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” The key phrase for advocates of nullification and state sovereignty is “made in Pursuance thereof.” So only laws which the federal government passes which are made in pursuance of the Constitution shall be binding over the states, and any law which is not made in pursuance of it is by definition in itself null and void, and therefore does not have to be followed by the states.
Based on that reading of the Supremacy Clause, a state does not really nullify a federal law per se, but simply declares it to already be null and void according to the Constitution.
For a while H.3101 seemed to be doomed to the scrap heap of legislation when it was clear that it had been pushed to the back of today’s House schedule, and Legislators seemed to be clearly trying to run out the clock by arguing endless amendments to others bills slated before H.3101. But in the end the vote was very decisive. There were amendments made to the bill along the long route through the committees and sub-committees. The main amendment which greatly disappointed advocates of the bill was removing language which made it mandatory for the state to arrest anyone, including federal officials which would act as to implement Obamacare within the state of SC and would have resulted in stiff penalties against them. But nonetheless, proponents of the bill say that this is a great victory because it still sends a clear message that SC will not submit to participation in Obamacare.
Jesse Graston, State Coordinator for the John Birch Society and a key grassroots proponent of the bill posted the following statement this evening, “Bill Chumley, how can I begin to express the level of gratefulness and respect I have for you. Thank you for sacrificing so much to simply do the right thing and protect all South Carolinians from tyranny. You are a modern day Calhoun, and a real hero for South Carolina. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for enduring the ridicule, sleepless nights, and endless phone calls. You are a force to be reckoned with my friend…Congratulations on an historic win.”
The bill will have to have a third and final vote, but as Graston stated, a third vote with a bill that passed its second vote 65-34 is a mere formality. Once the third vote is taken it will then move to the Senate for “concurrence.”
The Tenth Amendment Center stated in regards to the bill passing this evening that, “Passage into law would create a solid beachhead from which to launch additional efforts to completely block Obamacare in South Carolina.”
Advocates of the bill are celebrating the victory, but are still calling for people to continue to push their legislators, especially their Senators to support the bill and to push the Governor to speedily sign it into law once it clears both houses.
By: Javan Browder
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