The state of Missouri is famous as a political “bellwether” state, both in projecting presidential winners and in gauging public sentiment on divisive issues. That trend may be continuing in the latest vote on a key aspect of the Democrats’ new health care law: 71.1% of the people of Missouri just approved a ballot proposition to bar the law’s “individual mandate” provision from taking effect in their state.
Missouri’s Proposition C, on yesterday’s ballot along with primary candidates, passed by a margin of nearly three to one. The proposition asked, in part, whether to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services.” In other words, the proposition’s passage (in theory) completely guts the new federal health care law’s individual mandate, which forces the purchase of private health insurance under penalty of a steep fine. This vote comes immediately on the heels of a recent federal court’s decision not to block a lawsuit by the Commonwealth of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate. (We have commented on this constitutional question here and here.)
While the federal court’s allowing the lawsuit to proceed leaves a possible threat to the law’s survival in place, Proposition C in all likelihood won’t pose much of a threat in itself. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and Supreme Court case law are fairly clear on whether a state can nullify a duly passed federal law, no matter how unpopular or unwise that law may be. This is why KansasCity.com has referred to it dismissively as a “pointless” and “empty protest,” nicknaming it the “Futile Gesture Act”.
But it is hardly that, because votes send a message. Both the Virginia lawsuit and Prop C are shots across the bow at Congress and the White House. They prove the American public’s continuing outrage at the passage, railroaded through by Congressional Democrats – including John Hall – of a health law that will deprive them of choice, quality, and innovation while costing trillions of dollars that could go towards the growth of a private sector desperate for new opportunity and jobs.
The Democrats ignore this warning at their own great risk. If they don’t show they understand by repealing and replacing the new law, the American people will surely follow the bellwether “Show-Me State” in showing the Democrats the door in November.