Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Ritze
If one Oklahoma lawmaker gets his way, any federal agent who comes to the Sooner state trying to enforce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare – will face jail time, a $5,000 fine … or both.
State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, believes Obamacare is blatantly unconstitutional and it is his state’s right and responsibility to declare it “null and void” under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which states any powers not delegated to the federal government are “reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
“I feel very strongly that the 10th Amendment is basically the watchdog of republic,” Ritze told WND. “The federal government was never intended to be as overreaching as it has been with Obama’s health-care act.”
Ritze authored a bill earlier this year, HB 1276, which essentially “nullified” Obamacare in Oklahoma, a controversial approach to fighting the law, but one Ritze believes is legal and justified.
“The Founding Fathers gave us nullification,” Ritze told WND. “James Madison and Thomas Jefferson spoke about it, in the Kentucky Compact, for example, asserting we [the states] created the federal government, not the other way around.”
Ritze cited several precedents, including when states in 1798 nullified the federal Sedition Act, which declared anyone openly speaking against the federal government could face charges of treason.
“They overruled it,” Ritze explained to the Tulsa Beacon. “States started saying they were not going to recognize it.”
Ritze also cited to WND the precedent of northern states during the Civil War that nullified federal laws requiring the return of runaway slaves and the recent example of his state of Oklahoma, which nullified the Real ID Act mandating states put microchips in drivers’ licenses. Twenty-two states don’t recognize federal laws against possession of marijuana, he said, including California, which boasts hundreds of businesses selling marijuana in violation of federal law.
The original language of HB 1276 declared that both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 “are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate its true meaning and intent as given by the Founders and ratifiers, and are hereby declared to be invalid in the State of Oklahoma, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.”
Furthermore, the bill declared, “Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government … that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this act shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.”
Earlier this year, HB 1276 passed through committee, but only after the provisions punishing federal enforcers were gutted from the original language. The bill, however, did not make the floor of the Oklahoma House before recess.
“The committee would not pass that version through,” Ritze told WND. “Their excuse was they wanted to see how the Supreme Court decision played out before they put it in effect.”
But Ritze told WND he plans to return to the House this fall and begin redrafting the legislation – with the penalties for attempted enforcement in place – to be reintroduced in the next session in 2013.
“I will reintroduce the original version,” Ritze said, “with the teeth in it.”
“So many state legislators are afraid to stand up to Congress,” Ritze told the New American. “When you have something totally unconstitutional, you have to take a stand, and if the people don’t do it all at once, then we [the state legislatures] will do it incrementally, the same way the federal government has brought socialism to the states over the years.”
Ritze, a family-practice physician and surgeon (who is also married to a nurse), told the New American he began his fight against Obamacare two years ago, in part, because he recognized how the cost of medical care would soar under the president’s signature health law.
“I am going to continue my efforts to pass legislation in Oklahoma to nullify the law in our state,” said Ritze. “Although most Americans want to see our health care system improved, they do not want the government to take it over or to make important decisions for them.”