U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has determined that the new Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010) violates the constitution. click here for article. I don’t have a scoreboard (someone should make one), but its probably 50-50. In any case, I’m not here to debate this issue; it has been talked to death already. What I’m here to talk about is a more fundamental thing: federal governments.
The U.S. government is a federal government. This a very broad term but for most federal governments, the national governing body has restricted powers with much of the power given to states (or districts or prefectures).. Sometimes these powers are restricted by a constitution or mandate and sometimes it is done by tradition. I will assume the former when I speak of federal governments. The idea of a federalism is that all governments are corruptible therefore we should restrict the power of the largest body.
The U.S. federalism is set up so that powers of the national body are explicitly stated and everything else that not explicitly prohibited is given to state governments. This principle came up on the early days of the healthcare debate when proponents of the new bill showed examples such as car insurance (a murky support) and state health mandates (a better support). In any case the proponent’s argument was that state’s already require their citizens to purchase a commercial product.
Here is where I see a problem. We have established a limited national government but an unlimited state government. By giving states “the rest” of the powers, states have powers over both national and local governments. In issues like education, the national government can not really do anything other than write checks. It is up to the state governments to implement education policies. This came about in the Texas governor Rick Perry vs. US House Rep Lloyd Doggett (Austin) spat. see here. Also state governments can also be abusive to local governments since nothing in the constitution keeps checks on state powers over local authority. Anybody watching the current Texas state legislature sees this.
I think it is time for serious discussions and possible amendments to
A) Limit state governments over local governments. There already might be some limits in state charters or constitutions. However, these limits do not seem as stringent as they should be
B) There must be some legal issue when a state government abuses federal funding. Now the answer may simple be a civil suit against the state. However, a state like Texas has several laws which give them sovereign immunity.