Ohio constitutional amendment challenging ‘Obamacare’ on the November ballot
Last weeks decision by the Ohio Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to the validity of petitions submitted for placing a constitutional amendment to the Ohio constitution, set up a battle in this November’s election between proponents and opponents of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” Entitled the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment, the high court’s decision clears the way to place the proposed 21st Amendment to the Ohio Bill of Rights.
Supporters of the amendment delivered more than 546,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in early July. For the amendment to move forward, approximately 386,000 signatures of those submitted needed to be declared valid by Secretary of State Jon Husted. ProgressOhio, a liberal action group challenged the validity of the certification by the Secretary of State setting up the review by the Ohio Supreme Court. To adopt Section 21 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio, a majority yes vote at the November election is necessary for the amendment to pass. The proposed amendment would provide that:
In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system;
In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance;
In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.
The amendment directly challenges that part of the president’s health care plan that would require all citizens to purchase health insurance or face a financial penalty.
The issue promises to be hotly contested. For those who supported the president’s efforts to bring change to America’s health care, they are determined not to lose a law that was hard fought for and for which a high price was paid by Democrats in last November’s election. Groups like the Ohio Liberty Coalition which worked to put the initiative on the November ballot are equally determined to see that the amendment passes.
The amendment was authored by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus and argues that it is illegal for a governmental entity to force citizens to buy health insurance. The power for a state to essentially revoke or refuse to comply with a federal law is at the heart of the debate for both Ohioans and other states currently taking similar action. Beyond whether one approves or disapproves of “Obamacare,” the issue is whether or not Ohio or any state can pass a constitutional amendment exempting that state from federal law.
Forum Question of the Week:
In light of last weeks’ Ohio Supreme Court decision which cleared the way to place the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment on the November ballot, can Ohio or any state, pass a law which in effect exempts that state from following a specific federal law?