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Missouri voters pass law seeking to bar health care mandate

Missouri voters on Tuesday approved Proposition C [text], which seeks to make the individual mandate provision of the recent health care reform law [HR 3590 materials; JURIST news archive] unenforceable in the state. The law, which was passed with 71.1 percent in favor [results], stated that "[n]o law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system." The law was sent to voters by the Missouri General Assembly [official website] after significant opposition from the Democratic caucus. The initiative was placed on the ballot after replacing a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have been voted on in Novermber. While the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text] makes state law subordinate to federal law, the measure is seen as a way to either color enforcement of the reform law [Kansas City Star report] in the state or to provide the foundation for a court challenge. Proposition C also included a provision allowing insurance companies to liquidate more easily and goes into effect immediately. Similar laws have been passed by the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia [JURIST report]. Oklahoma, Arizona and Florida will have similar initiatives on their ballots [JURIST report] during the November midterm elections.

A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Monday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by the state of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the health care law. The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act was the first of its kind passed by any state, and says that no individual shall be held liable if they refuse to sign up for health care. The court found that Virginia had standing to bring the case because the federal health care law directly contradicts the state law, which the state has an interest in defending. The court also found that the question of whether Congress had exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the Tax Clause was one that "raise[d] a host of complex constitutional issues." In May, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website], a small business lobby group, joined 20 states in a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the health care reform law in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website].

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