On Wednesday, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively make it a federal crime to enforce the Affordable Care Act within the Palmetto State. To supporters and opponents alike, the bill is an act of nullification.
Named the "South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act," the legislation passed 65-39 in the Republican-controlled House. If enacted, the bill will:
"Prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for enforcing this article."
Greenville tea party activist Chris Lawton told the Greenville (SC) Post, "This kind of victory occurs when the grassroots across the State come together and coalesce. . . . I could not be prouder."
However, not every supporter of this South Carolina nullification effort is optimistic. The website fitsnews.com, a South Carolina based outfit, said upon the bill's passage:
"Our only concern? That 'Republican' lawmakers will use the eventual failure of this bill - either in the legislative process or court - as a pretext for supporting the massive Medicaid expansion associated with Obamacare."
Also according to fitsnews.com, the bill that passed is a watered down version:
"It's worth pointing out that the Obamacare nullification bill that cleared the S.C. House was stripped of several of its most controversial enforcement provisions, rendering it more of a symbolic gesture than anything else." "Remember, the original version of the bill held that any federal employees attempting to enforce Obamacare would be 'guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than five years,' while any state employee attempting to enforce the law would be 'guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years.'
With a Republican governor and Republican legislative majorities, the battles over the South Carolina nullification bill are more likely to ensue in the courts than in the legislature. The bill now proceeds to the state Senate where Republicans also hold a majority and where passage is expected.