Two huge cases, one court

Health care, immigration cases will test states' rights and ours

It’s official: This U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide two of the most important cases in modern history.

The high court had earlier agreed to decide the constitutionality of the federal health care law – which will go a long way toward determining the state of our individual liberties. Now the court has agreed to decide the Arizona immigration law case – which will go a long way toward clarifying the rights of the 50 states.

The theme of the two cases, other than freedom, is as epic as any we’ve seen: power – as in unbridled power. The federal government is attempting to confer upon itself the power to order Americans to purchase a product of its choosing – health insurance – while trying to swat down states for indolently protecting their sovereignty against illegal immigration (in lieu of a wantonly and intentionally negligent federal government, it should be noted).

Do you not think, on that latter point, that after all these years of debate and public protest that the federal government knows very well that it has a porous border? Thus, can its failure to secure the border be the result of anything other than its desire to thwart the states’ and the public’s will?

Can there be a more titanic battle for the high court to settle than that? It is the most momentous power struggle of our time: The federal government vs. both the states and the people.

It’s truly unreal and unsettling that either case would have to go this far. An elementary understanding of the Constitution reveals that our founders went out of their way to spell out the federal government’s “enumerated” powers. But to make it all the more evident, they added the 10th Amendment, which says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Think about that. In 2011-speak, it means unless we specifically give the federal government a certain power, it belongs to the states or the citizens. It expressly leaves the federal government as odd man out.

Yet, today, we have an administration and a bureaucracy that thinks they, rather than we, are in charge. They’re trying to stomp on states that are defending themselves from illegal immigration, and trying to tell us they can determine what we do with our money beyond pay taxes.

The Obama administration’s argument in the health-care law case is unprecedented, too: that even if we sit on our couch and do nothing, that, to them, is a form of interstate commerce (which the feds can regulate) because we’re not doing something they want us to do. If this law stands, what else will we not do to incur the government’s wrath?

More than half of these United States have gone to court to stop the federal health care law from setting such a dangerous precedent. And the feds have sued each state that has instituted tough laws against illegal immigration (making you wonder what bothers the administration so much about actually enforcing the law).

Question: When was the last time the federal government was this hostile toward the states that created it?

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon