AR-House 46: Professor Meeks Opines On The Law

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You knew it was coming: opponents of the healthcare reform bill here in Arkansas are agog in the wake of Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling that the individual mandate-portion of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.  One of those most giddy is David Meeks (R-46).

State Rep.-elect David Meeks, R-Conway, who has filed a bill seeking to block implementation of the mandate in Arkansas, said the ruling “validates what we’ve said all along, that that individual mandate is unconstitutional.”

If you are scoring at home, we now have David Meeks saying both that his prefiled bill, which is blatantly violative of the Supremacy Clause, would pass constitutional muster while also saying that the individual mandate provision, which two out of three federal judges to rule on have said is constitutional, is not.  Recall that David Meeks has no training whatsoever in the law, at least according to the bio on his website, and certainly has none in an area as nuanced as constitutional law.  But, hey, if Fox News tells him that the mandate is unconstitutional, then it must be.  Right?

Additionally, I want to walk through this again one more time, so that we are all on the same page.  Meeks thinks that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, so he files a bill that would change Arkansas law so that the federal government couldn’t require people to buy insurance.  If Meeks is wrong, then his bill has no effect because the Supremacy Clause trumps his state law, no matter what his opinion of the federal law is.  On the other hand, if he is right and the mandate is unconstitutional, then his bill has no effect because there is no law that is trying to require insurance purchase.

But it gets worse.

Assume Meeks was right.  If, subsequently, the Arkansas legislature passed a bill that required Arkansans to purchase health insurance, Meeks’s bill would be repealed (either explicitly or by implication), meaning that it would again have no effect.  Alternatively, if the federal government subsequently tied the mandate to (for example) the spending power, such that Arkansas had to accept the mandate if they wanted to receive certain federal funds, Meeks’s bill would not have an effect on that decision, nor could it stop the federal program once Arkansas decided to accept the funds.

So — AGAIN — I point out the obvious: there is no plausible scenario under which Meeks’s bill, if enacted, would actually have any effect.  None.

You’d think someone with Meeks’s keen understanding of the law would know this.

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Two other reactions to the Lyon article:

1. Meeks said, “I’m disappointed that he (McDaniel) did not join with other attorneys general in challenging the health care bill.  With today’s ruling, I hope he’ll rethink it.”

As Meeks notes, there is already a pending lawsuit.  If those states win, the ruling applies to all fifty states; if they lose, the ruling applies to all fifty states.  Joining the lawsuit would cost some amount of taxpayer money, and the number of plaintiffs will not ultimately determine the issue (nor should Meeks want it to, being a constitutional purist and all).  Point being, why is Meeks, who continually whines about cutting spending, crying so loudly for Arkansas to waste taxpayer money on a wholly symbolic gesture?

2. AR-02 congressman-elect Timmy! Griffin said that the next Congress “must repeal the health care law and replace it with a new one that lowers costs, limits government and follows the Constitution.”  As we’ve discussed, repealing the ACA has about as much chance of happening as does Griffin’s receiving a voter’s rights award from the NAACP.