Vote No on Amendment A

Vague Amendment A should fail

ESPC urges voters to reject ‘nullification’ amendment

Why re-live history?


The Equality State Policy Center opposes passage of Amendment A on the 2012 Election Ballot and urges all Wyoming voters to reject it. Legislators opposed to the Affordable Care Act brought this amendment to the Legislature in 2011, claiming the ACA violated states’ rights by imposing new requirements on individuals, insurance companies, and businesses. The ESPC disagreed and argued that the proposal was a “nullification bill,” a throwback to the first decades of the 19th Century. In those early days of the Republic, a number of Southern states passed acts of nullification in an attempt to thwart a federal tariff and refused to acknowledge the authority of the federal government to impose it. They believed that any state could “nullify” an act of Congress.


This assertion of state power ultimately led to the Civil War, fought over states’ rights and slavery. Wyoming sponsors of the resolution that became Amendment A ignored this historic assertion of federal authority by President Lincoln – and President Jackson before him. States and citizens can challenge the constitutionality of federal laws when they believe Congress has over-stepped its authority. Twenty-six states, including Wyoming, did challenge the Affordable Care Act. But this summer, the United States Supreme Court found the insurance mandate constitutional. This key provision requires all Americans to buy insurance or pay a fine. Proponents of Wyoming Constitutional Amendment A claimed in 2011 that it enabled the state to stand against the insurance mandate. The ESPC disagreed then and disagrees now that the amendment’s indistinct language accomplishes that goal. The actual language of the amendment states: “Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.” It also says, “Any person may pay, and a health care provider may accept, direct payment for health care without imposition of penalties or fines for doing so.” Do those sentences, individually or together, mean no one can be required to buy health insurance? Of course, even if they do, the words have no power. Federal law supersedes state law. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the insurance mandate constitutional. The proposed amendment cannot achieve the objective of its supporters. Please vote No on Amendment A. Editor’s note, Oct. 31, 2012 – There’s been some coverage of the ESPC position including the Associated Press, K2 radio and other stations, and by Time’s Swampland.  

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