Topeka — Law professors on Thursday disagreed on the effect of a proposed state constitutional amendment that seeks to allow Kansans to reject any federal health care requirement to purchase insurance.
Kris Kobach, who teaches law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said Senate Concurrent Resolution 1626 would give Kansans who challenge federal health care requirements more strength in court, and would allow the state attorney general’s office to intervene in any legal fight.
He said the state would have a good case. “Never before has Congress attempted to force people to purchase anything. It is completely unprecedented,” Kobach said. If passed in Congress, pending federal health care reform could set up fines for people who don’t get coverage.
But Stephen McAllister, a professor at Kansas University, said passage of the amendment to the Kansas Constitution would have no impact on how the case would be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
McAllister said any legal challenge to federal health reform would probably turn on whether the Supreme Court rules that Congress has the power to require citizens to purchase health insurance. He said that question will be decided regardless of what the Kansas Constitution says. “I see this as a symbolic measure and nothing more,” he said of SCR 1626.
Both attorneys said they weren’t speaking on the behalf of their schools. Kobach supports the proposed amendment, while McAllister was listed as neutral on the measure.
Dave Roland, a policy analyst with the Show-Me Institute, said he would be “willing to bet some money” that any federal health insurance mandate would be stricken by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A legislative subcommittee studying SCR 1626 took no action. State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said he would get the subcommittee together later to discuss “what we want to do with this.”
A constitutional amendment requires two-thirds support in the House and Senate before it can be put before voters to decide.