Like all Americans, Kansas legislators have a right to express their displeasure with federal health care proposals that currently are on the table. However, a Senate resolution seeking a constitutional amendment exempting Kansas from any federal health insurance mandate isn’t the best way to express that displeasure.
If lawmakers believe the federal health care law or any other federal law is unconstitutional, the way to challenge it is through the courts. Determining the constitutionality of federal laws is the job of America’s judicial branch. Of course, it would be premature to pursue court action until a health care bill actually passes, but the same could be said of taking the drastic step of amending the state constitution to address a problem that doesn’t currently exist. Unless Kansas legislators are considering secession, amending the state constitution to defy federal laws also would be a dangerous precedent.
Dissent with the government is a well-established principle of American democracy, and our federal Constitution provides many strong avenues to express and pursue that dissent. However, pursuing an amendment to the Kansas constitution to protest possible federal legislation may not be the best use of legislators’ time.