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Arizona, Oklahoma voters approve measures to block health care mandate

The voters of Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado on Tuesday voted on state constitutional amendments seeking to make the individual mandate provision of the recent health care reform law [HR 3590 materials; JURIST news archive] unenforceable in their states. In Arizona, Proposition 106 [text] passed 55.4 percent to 44.6 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment purports to "preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care" by prohibiting compulsory participation in "any health care system." In Oklahoma, Question 756 [materials] passed 65 percent to 35 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment states that it will "prohibit[] making a person participate in a health care system." In Colorado, Amendment 63 [text, PDF] was projected to have been rejected by voters as of 2:00 AM EST 53 percent to 47 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment would have affirmed that "all persons ... have the right to health care choice" by disallowing the required participation in health insurance plan. A similar provision was set to appear on the ballot in Florida as well [The Hill report], but was removed by a state judge due the misleading ballot language. The enforceability of these provisions has been questioned due to their conflict with federal law, which preempts state law under the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text].

In August, Missouri voters approved a similar ballot initiative [JURIST report] with 71.1 percent of the vote. Similar laws have been passed by the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia [JURIST report]. The health care law has faced ongoing legal challenges since it was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama in March. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upheld the individual mandate provision [JURIST report] of the law as constitutional, dismissing a lawsuit brought by the Thomas Moore Law Center. In August, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion to dismiss another lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by the state of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the same provision. In May, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website], a small business lobby group, joined 20 states in a third lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the health care reform law in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

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