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Liberty Caucus Dreams Of Nullification

State rights were a common theme among many of the break-out session at the Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho's Liberty Expo on Saturday - specifically the need to exercise nullification. About 100 people turned out for the event that was held all day at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn. They listened to dozens of 10th amendment experts and legislators discuss issues ranging from the media's coverage of federal issues to gun rights. There were sessions on how to effectively lobby the legislature and motivate grassroots activism. But in nearly every discussion the issue of nullification of federal laws came to the forefront and many expressed how frustrated they are that Idaho won't even go there. Many lawmakers say that the word itself is a political lightning rod making it difficult for them to even bring up. "It really, in my mind, is a polarizing term, but as I look around here, we are preaching to the choir," said Idaho State Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. "We know here that it is not an offensive term"/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Gabe Green's Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Ben Swann, a two-time Emmy award winning broadcast journalist, speaks about mainstream and alternative media Saturday)

Question: What does it say to you that the Liberty Caucus of the Republican Party considers nullification of federal laws to be a real objective?

Obamacare: Idaho In State Of Denial

Idaho politicos have spent two years viewing President Barack Obama’s health care law with scornful suspicion. That is, when they haven’t covered their eyes and tried to wish the law away. State lawmakers spent the 2011 session indulging in constitutional conceit, convincing themselves that states possessed the power to “nullify” any federal law that they don’t like. In 2012, these same lawmakers ducked the idea of creating a state-run health insurance exchange — an online marketplace to enable individuals and small businesses to shop for insurance, and a component of the federal health care law. They explained away the dodge by saying they wanted to see how the Supreme Court would rule on health care. Clearly, many lawmakers fully expected the court to toss the law aside. We all know how that worked out/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman (editorial for Sunday). More here. (2010 AP file photo: President Obama embraces Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after he signed the health care bill)

Question: Have Idaho lawmakers acted responsibly in preparing for Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare?

Vito Backing Away From Nullification?

Idaho Representative Vito Barbieri talks with reporters at the Capitol building this morning in Boise. Rep. Barbieri shared his thoughts on the upcoming debate over Idaho's acceptance of Federal money to develop a state health insurance exchange. Also, he told Eye on Boise that he may not introduce nullification legislation this year. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, who unsuccessfully pushed legislation last year to “nullify” the federal health care reform law, now says he's leaning toward holding off on another similar push this year. Barbieri said he's being encouraged to propose the legislation again to take advantage of the issue's “momentum,” but said, “Since the Supreme Court has it, I'm reticent to jump back in again. … I think we need to just hold off, cool our heels, and wait to see.” He said he's still discussing the issue with other backers of the idea/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.

Question: Why is Barbieri possibly putting his nullification legislation on the back burner?

‘Feds’ Isn’t A Four-Letter Word

We're not happy with the federal government, either. But in the winter of their discontent, some citizens are going too far in condemning the very role of federalism in our daily lives. At their most extreme, some of these people consider themselves patriots and constitutional purists - assessments we doubt our founding fathers would share. Nullification is one of the hot-button issues of the anti-federalists, and while we agree that federal backers of sweeping health-care reform have overstepped their authority, the proper remedy is taking place right now through Idaho's and other states' attorneys general. State legislative attempts to reject national health-care reform are exercises in political pandering with no legal bases. In their zeal to give themselves credit and the president and Congress a black eye, the legislative backers of nullification are arguing against the very constitutional foundation they purport to support/Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you think "feds" is a four-letter word?

Rep. Barbieri leaning against bringing new nullification bill this year

Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, who unsuccessfully pushed legislation last year to "nullify" the federal health care reform law, now says he's leaning toward holding off on another similar push this year. Barbieri said he's being encouraged to propose the legislation again to take advantage of the issue's "momentum," but said, "Since the Supreme Court has it, I'm reticent to jump back in again. … I think we need to just hold off, cool our heels, and wait to see." He said he's still discussing the issue with other backers of the idea.

By the way, here's Barbieri's reaction to the announcement of Hayden-area businessman Mark Fisher that he'll challenge Barbieri in this year's GOP primary: "It's too bad that the Republicans are divided. If he really wants to throw his time and money away to run, he should certainly be free to do that. I'm quite confident with the support I have up there that I should have no trouble winning with a substantial margin."

AG Won’t Bend On Nullification Push

If conservative lawmakers take another run at nullification in the upcoming legislative session, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden could once again find himself at the center of the legal storm. That was where he ended up last session, after refusing to play along with efforts to prohibit state and local government agencies from enacting or enforcing any portion of the federal health care reform legislation. … "I think there's a body of legislators who want to listen to what we have to say, even if they don't agree with it," said Wasden, who was in Lewiston Friday. "Then there's a more vocal group who couldn't care less what we have to say. They want to take away our funding and hire their own attorneys. Is that good public policy? Are they going to get an honest broker, or someone who'll say what they want to hear? My job isn't to tell you what you want to hear. It's to tell you what the law says"/William L. Spencer, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Will the 2012 Legislature pass the nullification bill pushed by the Far Right, led by Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens?

Photo Of The Day — 12.6.11

State Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, points out something to the standing-room-only crowd of United Conservatives of North Idaho at the organization's first meeting — if you don't count its previous incarnation as Rally Right — last night in Rathdrum. Barbieri plans to push his constitutionally questionable nullification legislation again in the 2012 session. You write the cutline.

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. Vbarb points out Santa’s sleigh in midair and stuns the crowd by condemning the Christmas icon as a “morbidly obese, semi-frozen, bearded, hippie reindeer fetishist. Tell this guy to get out of our chimneys and go back to Occupy Wall Street North Pole where he belongs!” — Hereford.
  • 2. During his presentation, Vito breaks out in “I’m a Little Tea Pot, Here’s My Spout …" — Dennis.
  • 3. Rep. Vito Barbieri points out just how far right he wants United Conservatives of North Idaho to be — Terry Harris.
  • HM: Duroc, Wes, & everyone else. Good job. Particularly liked Hereford using term V-Bard.

In Vito We Trust?

State Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, speaks to the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans at noon Thursday at Fedora about nullification. He will present the same message today to the Panhandle Pachyderm Club in Post Falls. Nullification is an attempt to state-rightists like Barbieri to allow states to unilaterally void federal law with which they disagree, like President Barack Obama's federal health care law.

FishinJay: Challenging the Constituionality of a law in court is the correct and only legal way to challenge an act of Congress. A state simply choosing to “nullify” an act of Congress is flat out kooky and in no way, shape or form has any state ever been allowed to do so. Only the Supreme Court can settle a dispute between the state and federal governments. If he wants to make a 10th Amendment argument, the only legal way to do so is with the Supreme Court.

Question: Will the 2012 Legislature pass Barbieri's second attempt to pass nullification legislation?

Barbieri Still Pushing ‘Nullification’

At Kootenai County Reagan Republicans luncheon today, Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, hangs out with RRs and their namesake at Fedora.

State Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, will be beating the drum for "nullification" when the Panhandle Pachyderm Club meets for its bi-weekly noon luncheon Friday at Templin's Red Lion at Post Falls. In an email, Pachyderm president Luke Sommer writes that the "nullification" issue is "timely & vital" and "of interest to Idaho and the entire nation. Idaho may very well lead the way. And, on the nullification issue, Vito is leading the way for us all!" Sommer said he expects "a very lively question-and-answer period.

Question: Do you support "nullification" movement?

Rusche: Otter Veto Stopped Mayhem

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, a pediatrician, is praising GOP Gov. Butch Otter's veto of HB 298, the grandson-of-nullification bill on health care reform, saying, “Gov. Otter prevented legal mayhem - for that he is to be thanked.” He has concerns, however, about the executive order Otter signed the same day he vetoed the bill, echoing many of the bill's provisions but allowing waivers with his personal signoff; click below to read Rusche's full op-ed piece/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Was Otter's veto further evidence re: how reckless the 2012 Legislature was?

Otter on veto: ‘No one has opposed Obamacare more vehemently than me’

You can read my full story here at spokesman.com on Gov. Butch Otter's first - and only - veto of legislation this year, in which he vetoed the final version of the health care reform "nullification" bill, HB 298. Otter said Idaho can set up its own health care exchange regardless of the national law - and if it doesn't, under the law, the federal government could step in and set up Idaho's exchange as the feds see fit. Otter said he was for the idea of an exchange "before the concept was co-opted by the national government," and declared, "No one has opposed Obamacare more vehemently than me."

Barbieri ‘Really Enjoyed’ ‘11 Session

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, a freshman representative who won a four-way GOP primary last spring but then ran unopposed in November, is more upbeat than most in looking back on this year's legislative session. Barbieri, who stepped into the spotlight as the lead sponsor of legislation attempting to “nullify” the federal health care reform law, then later settled for a compromise bill, said, “It's nice to have a success. I really didn't expect to have anything more than a discussion about that.” He said that issue plus the anti-wolf bill gave him hope about pushing back against federal influence in the state/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Anyone else enjoy the 2011 legislative session as much as Vito?

House OKs ‘Grandson Of Nullification’

HB 298, nicknamed the “grandson of nullification” as the latest version of legislation aimed at barring the national health care reform law from being implemented in Idaho, has passed the Senate on a 24-11 vote and headed to the governor's desk. This version targets the discretionary portions of the act, and says Idaho won't do anything to comply with those for one year; it also prevents the state from accepting federal funds to implement the act/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support the legislation to nullify federal health care reforms in Idaho?

Senate Panel OKs Nullification Jr.

HB 298, the bill that's being referred to as the “grandson of nullification,” has passed the Senate State Affairs Committee on a rather unenthusiastic, divided voice vote. Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation; and a citizen who spoke of the virtues of nullification were among those calling for passage of the bill, which would forbid Idaho from accepting federal money to implement health care reform and would put a one-year hold on any actions by the state to comply with discretionary portions of the law, along with other measures/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: How does Vito Barbieri and allies justify an unconstitutional attempt to nullify federal law that will cost Idaho money in court with their tight-fisted votes on public education and Medicaid budget votes?

Statesman: Right Vote On Nullification

Three Canyon County senators made the tough vote Friday. But the three Republicans — Curt McKenzie of Nampa, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston and John McGee of Caldwell — also cast the right vote. By opposing Idaho’s foolhardy and constitutionally dubious flirtation with health care reform “nullification,” they spared the state a costly and, most likely, ill-fated legal battle. More significantly, from a budget standpoint, they refused to jeopardize Idaho’s share of federal funding for Medicaid — a whopping $1.2 billion for 2011-12. Perhaps most importantly, they put good government ahead of good politics/Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you think these three legislators ended their political careers by angering the Idaho Tea Partiers lobbying for "nullification"?

Marty: Hoffman Should Write A Check

Funny, isn't it, how some of the biggest fiscal tightwads have no difficulty spending your tax dollars when it's something they want. This time, it's Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Last year, Hoffman bemoaned the Democratic Congress back-filling almost half of the $128 million Idaho lawmakers cut from public schools. … It was Hoffman who said Idaho Public Television is nice enough, but it's not within the "proper role of government," and ought to be cut. … And Hoffman championed depriving Idaho's retired public employees of a meager 1 percent cost-of-living increase because it cost too much. … Yet it is Hoffman above all others who wanted the state to burn through potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend his quixotic notion of nullification/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Why is it that Tea Party legislators and backers are quick to slash budgets and yet embrace a concept like "nullification" that could cost the state hundreds of thousands in fruitless litigation?

‘Obamacare’ Vote Disappoints Vick

State Sen. Steve Vick, R-Hayden Lake, tweets: "HB 117 Hearing, Opting out of Obamacare: I am terribly disappointed to tell you that the bill died on a voice vote in committee today. But I ask you today to remember the words of noted abolitionist Wendell Phillips, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." — Don't ever give up."

Question: No North Idaho senators serve on the Senate State Affairs Committee, which heard this bill. How do you think the five of them would have voted, if the legislation had made it to the Senate floor.

Senate Hears ‘Nullification’ Arguments

The Senate State Affairs Committee has a substantial crowd in the Capitol Auditorium this morning for its hearing on HB 117, the health care nullification bill. Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, the bill's lead sponsor, asked the panel, “Are the state agencies responsible to the federal government or to the state of Idaho? This is not a nullification bill,” he said. “It merely directs state agencies to cease work,” on anything related to the new national health care reform law. “We ask them to stop implementing this onerous bill,” Barbieri said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Rep. Vito Barbieri claims that his legislation is not a 'nullification bill.' Do you have a better term for it?

Montana Guv: Nullification unAmerican

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, pictured, told fellow Democrats Monday that bills advancing in the Republican-controlled Legislature to "nullify" federal laws in Montana are "anti-American" and do nothing to solve problems faced by the state. Schweitzer, speaking to a meeting of House Democrats, said if Montanans and others disagree with federal polices, they can advocate for Congress to change them. "But a state like Montana saying, ‘We will pick and choose which laws we will enforce?' " the governor said. "That's not the American way. … "Some of these (bills) are actually passing. … The nullifying bills are anti-American"/Mike Dennison, Missoulian. More here.  (AP file photo)

Question: Do you think "nullification" bills are un-American, as Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer does?

Kevin: Barbieri Said … What?!

Some nullification supporters tried their best to sound level-headed Wednesday. They tried to paint their effort as something straightforward: a bill simply directing state agencies to do nothing to implement federal health care reform. “It does no more, no less,” said House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. “It is a policy decision.” Now, consider this over-the-top comment from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Vito Barbieri, pictured, who goaded his colleagues to stand up to Uncle Sam. “This issue was resolved during the Nuremberg trials. The idea that we are directed from on high, that orders are orders, was found to be no defense. But, rather, our conscience is our duty.” Barbieri represents a portion of Kootenai County, an area with a long history with neo-Nazi fringe groups. I wonder how Barbieri’s constituents feel about his choice of analogy/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What do you make of state Rep. Vito Barbieri, who represents a House district with long ties to the Aryan Nations, using the Nuremberg trials analogy to defend nullification?

Trail: Should State Laws Be Nullified?

Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, asked Rep. Vito Barbieri about unfunded mandates that the state passes down to cities and counties. “Would they not have the right also to pursue nullification?” he asked. Barbieri responded, “Contrary to what others expressed here, I do not believe the states are creatures of the federal government. However, cities and counties are creatures of the state government. … Through creation of those government entities, we are in a position to dictate to them. … This does not stretch the other way.”  Trail responded, “United we stand, divided we fall”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.

Question: If "nullification" takes hold in Idaho, which law handed down by state legislators should Idaho counties and towns reject or ignore?

AG: ‘Nullification” Price Tag: $1B?

Lawmakers have received two Idaho attorney general's opinions on nullification; the first said any attempt by state lawmakers to nullify a federal law through legislation would violate both the U.S. and Idaho constitutions and lawmakers' oath of office. The bill was revised after that, but the second opinion still said the new version likely is unconstitutional; plus, it said HB 117, if passed, could have the effect of opting Idaho out of participation in the federal Medicaid program - including receiving more than $1 billion in federal funds that now provide health care to the state's poorest and disabled residents/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are 'nullification' advocates in Idaho Legislature playing with fire — and the possibility that they could cost the state $1B in Medicaid funding?

Kos: Idaho Solons Deaf To Fed Law

Despite the testimony from Idaho's (Republican) attorney general that a proposed law nullifying the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, the House State Affairs Committee voted 14-5 last week to approve the bill. One Republican lawmaker (Eric Anderson, R-Priest River, pictured) on the committee joined with four Democrats. … The majority, however, were in league with one of the know-nothing teabaggers in attendance at a hearing on the law: "I wasn't going to speak until I heard the self-proclaimed scholar," Bruce Nave, a resident of rural Sweet, north of Boise, told the panel. "We as citizens are tired of being lorded over by representatives. We're not conspiracy theorists. We aren't kooks. No one is going to force me to buy anything." Law, schmaw. If I don't agree with it, the hell with the rule of law. This "the hell with the Constitution" aspect of the nullification effort — alive and well not just in Idaho but in eleven others states — is disturbing, particularly coming from people who are making laws/Joan McCarter, Daily Kos. More here.

Question: What do you make of situations, like the nullification effort in the Idaho Legislature, when lawmakers knowingly defy the U.S. Constitution?

Tea Party Boise Backs Nullification

Item: Tea Party Boise backs nullification, aims for 1,000 to show for Feb. 7 hearing/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman

More Info: Idaho's most active tea party group is urging members to help bring a crowd of at least 1,000 to next week's hearing on House Bill 59, which seeks to allow Idaho to deem federal laws null and void, including last year's health care law. "This is the line in the sand," says a notice from Tea Party Boise. "On one side is federal tyranny — on the other side is freedom. What do you choose? If it is freedom — then be at the Capital (sic) on Feb. 7th."

Question: What effect does the two rulings against 2010 health care reform have on Idaho's attempt to nullify the federal law on the state level?

Nullification Authors Defend Stand

We have proposed a simple, well-reasoned solution that is rooted in America’s history. We propose recognizing the national health care plan for what it is – a vast overreach of federal power. To stop it, we invoke our right to opt-out of the program, to interpose the state between the federal government and its Idaho’s citizens. House Bill 59 is a capsulation of that effort. Our bill simply says that our state government will not recognize the onerous provisions of the health care plan. Under our bill, state agencies and state employees will be forbidden from writing new agency rules, creating new programs or entering into any agreements that further the federal plan/Reps. Vito Barbieri and Judy Boyle, and Sens. Monty Pearce, Steve Vick and Sheryl Nuxoll, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: Two of the three signers of this article are new legislators from House District 3. The third House District 3 repr is Phil Hart. How does the trio's political ideology reflect on House District 3?

Chasing One Bad Idea After Another

Let’s start with the good news from the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers have apparently abandoned the misguided notion of pursuing an Arizona-style immigration law. Here’s the bad news. Lawmakers haven’t given up on this kind of time-wasting windmill tilting because they have had some sort of good-government epiphany. Instead, they are dropping immigration from the agenda in favor of an idea that is just about as bad. Full speed ahead, and in defiance of two centuries of precedent, lawmakers insist upon pursuing the legal non-starter of “nullification,” looking to unilaterally void the federal health care reform law. A nullification bill was introduced in a House committee Wednesday on a party-line vote, with Republicans backing the measure and Democrats opposing it/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Why are Idaho lawmakers prone to chase one unconstitutional windmill after another?

Marti: Nullification Doctrine Unlawful

The U.S. Constitution gives small states - notably Idaho - such an oversized voice about choices they don't like, it's a wonder anything gets done in this country. But when the people of this land overcome obstacles that states such as Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana place in their path, they have a right to expect citizens will yield to the national will. Idaho has been content to do so. Now it's flirting with a dangerous doctrine. Rather than asking the federal courts to declare national health care reform unconstitutional, Idaho's renegade lawmakers want to make that declaration on their own. Some would call that an insurrection. Others, such as Gov. C. L. (Butch) Otter and Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, label it nullification/Marti Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Does anyone out there seriously think that Idaho can pass a law ignoring the will of the land re: health care reform and get away with it?

Barbieri Launches Nullification Bill

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, “The federal health care laws recently passed by the U.S. Congress have invaded the traditional sovereign powers of the state. This bill declares that this intrusion by the federal government is … null and void.” Committee members had lots of questions for Barbieri. “Are you … aware that no court in the history of the United States has ever upheld a state effort to nullify a federal law?” Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, asked Barbieri. He responded, “I do believe no federal court has done that. The difficulty is that the federal courts are an arm of the federal government, so it would be very difficult to imagine an arm of the federal government ruling against itself”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What do you make of freshman legislator Vito Barbieri proposing a state law that cannot pass constitutional muster?

AG: Idaho Can’t Stop Health Care Reform

Brian Kane, an assistant chief deputy in the Idaho attorney general's office, offered a four-page opinion on the validity of nullification. (Click here to read the opinion.) He concludes that "there is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will allow." Some Republican lawmakers are pushing a nullification bill that would stop state departments and agencies from implementing aspects of the federal health care reform. The proposal is expected to be introduced into the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday/Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Anyone surprised that Idaho can't unilaterally ignore federal health care reform?