An Exercise in Hypotheticals

In the backlash following the release of the landmark Healthcare decision, Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida, has stated publicly that he will do whatever he can to not comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

In the Article entitled, "Florida Will Not Implement Insurance Exchanges or Expand Medicare," the Governor states that he will work in conjunction with his Attorney General to fight as hard as he can to have the law repealed. If that fails, he claims he will still not, "implement these exchanges that will increase the cost of health and make Medicaid worse," which includes expanding the program in exchange for additional federal funding.

While the Governor's statements don't go so far as to state that he will violate federal law, his claims do seem to edge towards that conclusion.

Elected officials, especially governors, typically have to take an oath of office in order to begin their term. For governors, this oath typically involves vowing to uphold the constitution of their state and also the Constitution of the United States.  Therefore, the following constitutional elements are those that deal directly with following a United States Supreme Court opinion.

Supremacy Clause, Article VI Clause 2 

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Privileges and Immunities Clause, Article V Section 2 Clause 1

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

Privileges an Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Marbury v. Madison

In addition to these provisions of the Constitution, there is also the foundational case of Marbury v. Madison. The case, taught in every Constitutional Law course across the nation, sets out what amounts essentially to the proclamation that decisions handed down by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the Land, are the final constitutional judgment on laws passed by Congress or actions taken by the president. In other words, the word of the Supreme Court carries the same force as the other laws protected by the Supremacy Clause.

Hypothetically speaking, therefore, if an elected official were to undertake a course of action that directly violated a federal law, by means of a Supreme Court decision upholding such a law, the individual would potentially be violating their oath of office, and would be subject to impeachment or other proceedings. They could also, arguably, be subject to an injunction or perhaps be held in contempt of court.

Additionally, by denying an individual the ability to exercise their right to affordable healthcare, which would be deemed a property right, such official action could additionally be construed as violating individuals' Due Process rights.  Such action could also be construed as simultaneously violating the Privileges and Immunities Clause, since citizens in all other states following the law have access to such a benefit.

What is your opinion?

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