The “Repeal Amendment”

Kate Zernicke reports on a quixotic movement that’s apparently gaining support inside the conservative establishment, including Eric Cantor:

Under the proposed “repeal amendment,” any federal law or regulation could be repealed if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states voted to do so.

The idea has been propelled by the wave of Republican victories in the midterm elections. First promoted by Virginia lawmakers and Tea Party groups, it has the support of legislative leaders in 12 states. It also won the backing of the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, when it was introduced this month in Congress.

For whatever reason, the conservative movement isn’t really given to self-criticism. But it’s worth pointing out that before the right goes all-in on an ad hoc constitutional change driven by dislike of the Affordable Care Act, that different conservative behavior could have avoided this outcome. For example, Tom Davis would have been a formidable contender for a Senate seat in 2008, but the right decided he wasn’t conservative enough so they’d let Mark Warner win in a landslide. Then they decided Arlen Specter wasn’t conservative enough, so they drove him from the party and gave Democrats 60 votes in the United States Senate. Then they steadfastly refused to offer any compromise proposals that might have peeled the Ben Nelsons and Mark Pryors and Evan Bayhs of the world away from the pro-ACA coalition. I recall that after Scott Brown’s election there was mass panic in Democratic circles and lots of people wanted to abandon the ACA. For a while, I thought that those of us urging continued action might lose the argument to those who favored passing a “scaled-down” health care bill. But in the end we got a bailout from the GOP, which refused to offer any indication that it would actually accept such a bill.


At any rate, the ACA will almost certainly not be fully repealed. And the “repeal amendment” will certainly not join the constitution. If conservatives really think these facts are disasters of historical proportion, they should think harder about the chain of events that led to its passage in the first place.