Original ‘Birther’ Congressman Converts To ‘Tenther’: Rep. Posey Declares Health Care Reform Unconstitutional

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past month, ThinkProgress has traveled to town hall events across the country to report what we’re seeing on the ground. This is our seventh eyewitness report.

Earlier this week, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) held a health care town hall meeting in Melbourne, FL, which attracted well over 2,000 attendees. Posey is most famously known for introducing the “birther” bill — legislation that would require presidential candidates to submit their birth certificates to prove they are really U.S. citizens. But the “birther “conspiracy wasn’t the right-wing fringe theory that Posey spent his time discussing on Wednesday night.

Instead, Posey expressed his allegiance to “tentherism” — a stance adopted by many right-wing activists which posits that health care reform is an unconstitutional infringement on states’ rights. In an interview with ThinkProgress following the event, Posey told us in no uncertain terms that he believes Obama’s health care reform proposal is unconstitutional:

Yeah, I really do. There is nothing — the 10th Amendment he talked about says that all power is not delegated to the United States government — are reserved unto the states. And I absolutely support any intrusion and further erosion in violation of states’ rights. No doubt about that.

Posey’s “tenther” views found strong support among the crowd. Indeed, one of the questions posed to him from a town hall attendee wondered “how are any federal solutions to the health care problems constitutional?” (Posey responded that “there are some definite constituational questions.”)


Also, Florida state representative Ritch Workman (R) — one of the panelists who Posey invited to appear on-stage with him — elicited a standing ovation when he declared his support for HM 19, a bill that demands the federal government “adhere to and be constrained by the Tenth Amendment.” And outside the town hall venue, conservative activists were soliciting signatures in support of a “tenther” petition. Watch our video report: