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The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act: A Response to C. Douglas Smith

The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act: A Response to C. Douglas Smith

By Patrick M. McSweeney

C. Douglas Smith of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy recently published a misguided attack on the effort by Virginia legislators at the 2010 session to halt the expansion of congressional power. Smith likens that effort to Virginia’s Massive Resistance experience. Such a comparison and his understanding of the concept of federalism are way off base.

There is no hint of racism in HB 10, the present legislative attempt to reassert Virginia’s sovereignty. Smith’s suggestion that there is is inexcusable. This legislation is an attempt to restrain Congress. It is motivated by a widespread desire among Virginians to restore the concept of federalism that the Founders left us. Smith makes no reference to the Kentucky Resolution, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, or the Virginia Resolutions, drafted by James Madison, both of which challenged the Alien and Sedition Laws enacted by Congress in 1798. He also ignores the actions of New England states in 1812 interposing their sovereignty in opposition to President Madison’s prosecution of the war with Great Britain. These and other interposition actions were plainly not motivated by racism and had nothing to do with slavery or segregation.

Smith’s fundamental mistake is misreading The Federalist Papers, which leads to his distorted notion of the system of federalism that the Founders established. None of the Founders suggested that the Constitution would or should produce a centralized national government that Smith favors. Instead, they designed a governance system that no nation had ever attempted before: a system of dual sovereignty with power divided between the states and a national government.

The Founders established this system of federalism for the explicit purpose of preserving liberty, not to provide the most efficient or effective government. The Founders understood that even when government is well-meaning and efficient, it can pose a threat to liberty.

The current debate over proposed congressional health care legislation is not about states’ rights, but about the proper concept of federalism. The expansion of the national government has distorted the balance between the two sovereigns and threatens our liberty. If Congress can mandate that every adult resident of the United States must obtain health insurance, there is no limit to what the national government can do.

The states established our national government, not the other way around. When the Virginia ratification convention adopted the U.S. Constitution in 1788, it expressly resolved that Virginia reserved the right to resume the limited and enumerated powers it delegated to the national government if those powers were ever abused. The states have never granted to Congress the power claimed by Mr. Smith and other proponents of the pending national health care legislation to mandate individual health insurance coverage for every resident of the nation.

Smith’s “core concern” that health insurance be available to more people is laudable. What he fails to appreciate is that the Constitution does not grant Congress the power to enact whatever mandate it chooses. That is all that HB 10 is intended to address.

February 26, 2010 Patrick M. McSweeney

Here is Smiths original article


Massive Resistance 2010

By C. Douglas Smith

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. doug smithOver 200 years ago James Madison and others drafted the Federalist Papers to help undergird the American Constitution and provide an interpretation that is used even to this day. The document established more than commentary, it truly provided guidance to the new country’s governance and the ways in which an accumulation of states, united, would act together as one nation-state and country. In many ways, the Constitution outlines the rights and expectations that government has for itself and its people while providing a clear expression of what citizens can expect from a federalizing government.

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About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

4 Responses to “The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act: A Response to C. Douglas Smith”

  1. This is the best narrative on the reasons for the creation of the 10th Ammendment and the ideas behind Federalism from one of Virginias leading constitutional authorities that I have read.Mr McSweeney is brilliant.

  2. Tom White says:

    Mr. McSweeney is very astute on this issue (and others). He has a eay to take the hype out of things and use a well reasoned, logical – non emotional – approach.

  3. “Health is wealth” is known to all and everyone wants good health. That means no one wants to leave this wealth. So, Let us build a food habit discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or exercise to Achieve good health, The ultimate wealth.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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