Yesterday in a conference call with right-wing activists, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) joined the tenther movement by questioning whether federal health care reform is constitutional. When a caller asked, “I want to know if any of the governors are willing to invoke the 10th Amendment if the health care bill is passed,” Pawlenty replied:
Depending on what the federal government comes out with here, asserting the 10th Amendment might be viable option, but we don’t know the details. As one of the other callers said, we can’t really even get the president to outline what he does or doesn’t support in any detail. So we’ll have to see. I’d say that’s a possibility.
You’re starting to see more governors, including me, and specifically Gov. Perry from Texas, and most Republican governors express concern around these issues and get more aggressive about asserting and bringing up the 10th Amendment. So I think we could see hopefully a resurgence of those claims and maybe even lawsuits if need be.
This tenther argument is increasingly gaining steam with the far right. State lawmakers in both Florida and Georgia have brought up legislation that would allow their states to opt-out of any federal health care system. Even federal lawmakers like Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) are saying that health care reform may be unconstitutional.
Tenther claims are far from the mainstream. In their world, landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the federal highway system, and rules regulating airplane safety are unconstitutional. In fact, the South “justified both secession and the Civil War on the theory that the Constitution is nothing more than a pact between sovereigns that each state is free to leave at will.”
Perry, whom Pawlenty mentioned as a kindred spirit in the tenther debate, has even raised the possibility that Texas could secede from the union. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it,” he said a few months ago. “But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.” Will Pawlenty also advocate secession for Minnesota?