The House of Delegates approved the measure 80-17 without debate. According to the Associated Press, the vote is a largely symbolic step aimed at rejecting the federal health care reform now stalled in Congress.
The measure now goes to Governor Bob McDonnell who intends to sign it.
The AP reports that 34 other state legislatures have either filed or proposed similar measures — statutes or constitutional amendments — rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. The legality of such bills is questionable because courts generally rule that federal laws supersede those of the states.
Supporters of the bill say it falls under the Constitution’s 10th Amendment that deals with state sovereignty. However, the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Robert G. Marshall, said he expects the law to be challenged and ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
An opponent of the bill, Delegate James M. Scott, likened its passage to Virginia’s failed efforts to defy federal orders to desegregate public schools in the 1950s. “It’s a rejection of the federal role in the provision of health care and an extension of the old idea of interposition,” said Scott, referring to a discredited legal theory that the state had a right to interpose itself to shield residents from some federal directives.