And just when you thought that Tom Emmer and the Minnesota Light Bulb Freedom Act would be a titanic waste of time and money.
Well, listen up Tom. You’re just a piker when it comes to wasting the State’s resources. Now, Governor Tenther/Gutshot/Unilateral Tim wants the Attorney General to file suit against the federal government to nullify the health care reform bill just passed by the House. Now word comes that all the Republicans in the Leege have joined Gutshot’s plaintive entreaty.
Attorney General Lori Swanson provided a measured reply: Well, it might be nice to actually look at the legislation first.
What she should have said, of course, is, Are you out of your freakin’ minds?
Farnsworth is going to get another case.
Tenther Tim has traveled the Tenth Amendment road before in an effort to build some sturdy cracker street cred in his run to be the president. But the last time, he backed away, in apparent recognition of what a laugher the argument is. But now he’s back!
I linked to Jack Balkin before on the complete, utter stupidy of the idea that health care reform is unconstitutional:
Perhaps more interesting is [Texas governor] Perry's theory [which is the same as Pawlenty’s] of why expanded health care programs would be unconstitutional. I can think of two possibilities. Presumably the federal power to create such a program comes from the General Welfare Clause (Article I, section 8, clause 1), which gives the federal government the power to raise taxes and spend money for the general welfare. It's hard to see how the proposed health care program violates the Constitution under existing doctrine. [Jack Balkin is, by the way, a constitutional law professor at Yale].
Perry might claim that no state can willingly consent to participate in federal programs of the type contemplated. But that argument would probably make many other state cooperative ventures unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.
Second, Perry might argue that although the federal government can spend money on some social welfare programs, after a certain point, federal expenditures become so intrusive that they dominate the regulatory playing field, effectively preventing states from creating their own independent programs and therefore this violates the Tenth Amendment. This argument seems a bit of a stretch [Balkin is being charitable here], but if we took it seriously, it would threaten the constitutionality of a lot of federal programs, including federal grants that Texas depends on and that Texas citizens desperately need. Perry has been more than happy to take federal money for any number of federal health care programs in the past. It is not clear whether he has had a change of heart about their constitutionality as well. [italics are mine]
Pawlenty also cheerfully uses federal money — from the stimulus bill, no less — in his proposed budget fix for the state.
Tenther Tim is obviously playing to the Southern, states rights (i.e., racist) voter, but it is sobering to realize that the Republicans in the Legislature — to a member — think that it is useful to play to the same sentiment in Minnesota.
Update: Be sure to read MNO’s comments about how the Commerce Clause also supports the health care reform bill.