Via Ben Armbruster, it seems that even thought Texas Governor Rick Perry seems to have backed off his earlier threats to secede from the union over the stimulus bill (indeed, he’s asking the federal government for loans now) he’s now decided to take another page out of the John C. Calhoun playbook and start talking about nullifcation of federal health care legislation:
Gov. Rick Perry, raising the specter of a showdown with the Obama administration, suggested Thursday that he would consider invoking states’ rights protections under the 10th Amendment to resist the president’s healthcare plan, which he said would be “disastrous” for Texas. [...]
“I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying ‘no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare,” Perry said. “So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats.”
I’m sure that some people out there really think that Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security are all unconstitutional. But even John Roberts isn’t nearly that crazy, so I don’t see Perry’s challenge going anywhere.
Of course the implications of this are rather different than the implications of secession. If Texas and other right-wing southern states were to secede, that would simply make it easier to pass beneficial legislation on health care and other topics. As I’ve noted previously, the decision of the South to react to Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 election drastically altered the balance of power in congress. The post-secession Republican majorities were able to not only take action against slavery, but also pass a Homestead Act, substantial expansion of federal support for higher education, initiate the construction of a trans-continental railroad, and institute a protective tariff. It’s not at all clear how much of that could have been achieved had the South’s leading politicians simply stayed in the Union and attempt to obstruct as much as possible (though to be clear at that time routine filibustering was considered out-of-bounds).