Donald McEachin Eviscerates Anti-Individual-Mandate Legislation

Friday, February 5, 2010

Donald McEachin is quickly becoming my favorite State Senator, a leader among Democrats in opposition to the crazy...uh, "stuff" the Republicans have been proposing. For instance, take the following column Sen. McEachin wrote for the Richmond Free Press this week on the subject of Bob Marshall's anti-individual-mandate bill. To put it mildly, Sen. McEachin finds Marshall's bill to be wrongheaded -- "illegal and/or meaningless," as he correctly puts it. I remain incredulous that any Democrat, or any Republican with integrity and a brain, would have voted for this garbage. Thank you to Sen. McEachin for speaking out against it.
As you all are well aware, this year the United States Congress has spent considerable time debating health care. I would like to believe that, no matter what you think of the proposed health care solutions in Congress, we all agree that we have a crisis in this country providing affordable accessible health care to all Americans. However, Delegate Marshall has introduced a bill, House Bill 10, that basically allows any individual to opt out of any health care legislation passed by Congress. I could certainly elucidate the merits of the health care legislation both in the Congress and in the Senate. But, I believe, Delegate Marshall’s bill has an even more fundamental problem. His legislation implies that, when we don’t agree with or like federal law, we as a state can simply legislate to opt our citizens out.

This is not only illegal but goes to the very heart of the principles of our nation. The ability of a state to opt out – or declare federal law void – was initially addressed in the 1790’s with Nullification and Secession Acts and was thought to be finally determined by the Civil War in the 1860s. The Virginia General Assembly simply does not have the right to pass a law that supersedes a national law. This bill, if passed is illegal and/or meaningless.

If the Health Care legislation that is finally passed by the Congress is upheld by the Supreme Court then it is the law of the land and no state can unilaterally decide to ignore it. On the other hand, if the legislation is challenged in the Supreme Court and does not, according to the justices, pass constitutional muster, then it is illegal and will be unenforceable on any level. This determination is made, however, by the Supreme Court and is not within the power of our General Assembly.

Supporters of Delegate Marshall’s bill point to the Tenth Amendment which says that rights not given to the national government are reserved for the state government. This is why we have a patchwork of driving laws across this country, marriage rules, and even state taxes and revenue sources. These are rights held by the states and as citizens of different states we will be subjected to different rights, rules and responsibilities. The Tenth Amendment is why we are in Session each and every year, trying to make the best determinations for Virginians. I am a strong believer in the Tenth Amendment because states are different and the best regulations for one state may not be adequate for another. We, as Virginians, have many values and issues in common, and we legislate those, coming together, working through our differences in the General Assembly. But, when the federal government, performing the same exercise – arguing through wide-ranging opinions, finding the best compromises and trying to incorporate many viewpoints makes law and that law is upheld by the Supreme Court, that is the law of the land. Without this basic premise, we could not hold together as a nation nor would our democracy be as strong and vital.

More information about my legislation and this General Assembly Session can be found on my website at, or I can be contacted at or at 698.7509.