(CNN) - Lawmakers in many states are trying to make it illegal to mandate that everyone buy health insurance - one of the key parts of the Democrats' health care reform efforts in Washington.
In Kansas, lawmakers filed a resolution this week that aims to alter the state constitution to do so. State Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, a co-sponsor of the legislation says, "States have a duty to protect their citizens' liberty." Could these proposed amendments affect health care reform in the nation's capital?
Fact Check: Can state governments overrule federal regulations on health care?
(Get the facts and the bottom line after the jump)
- 31 states have filed or prefiled the Freedom of Choice Health Care Act, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafted the act. ALEC supports limited government.
- "It's symbolic opposition," said Robert Schapiro, a constitutional law professor at Emory University. "State governments cannot overrule federal legislation on health care."
- Schapiro also said there has been some discussion about letting states opt out, which would be a different case. "But, if Congress does not give the states the ability to opt out, the states cannot legally do so on their own," he said.
- Pilcher Cook says that some constitutional law scholars would disagree with Schapiro, because the state or an individual could file a lawsuit. Schapiro responds, "Even without a state law, a person could challenge the federal mandate, and the existence of a state law is essentially irrelevant for federal constitutional purposes."
Bottom Line: States must comply with any health care reform that passes in Congress, unless they're allowed to opt out. States would have the option to challenge the mandate in court.