Op-Ed: Ryan Leonard, GOP Candidate for Attorney General

Following is a letter from Ryan Leonard, Republican candidate for state Attorney General, concerning the national healthcare proposal:

Dear Friends:
We are all rightly concerned by the direction our nation is headed.  Our country is in the midst of the most massive "federalization" in its history, both in terms of out-of-control, irresponsible federal spending and efforts by this Congress and Administration to move authority towards the federal government and away from state and local governments and the people.  Many of the liberal proposals currently under consideration in Congress raise serious Constitutional and other legal questions, and as a conservative candidate for Attorney General, I want to alert you today to one (of many) issues that will require a strong, conservative Attorney General who is willing to fight for the people of this state and push back against an ever-encroaching federal government.
As you know, this week the U.S. Senate begins its debate on a national healthcare proposal.  The Wall Street Journal recently called the House-passed version "The Worst Bill Ever."  Like many in this country, I am opposed to socialized medicine (not to mention the $1.2 trillion price tag), and believe that we must make every effort to maintain the quality and accessibility to healthcare- the best in the world- that we currently enjoy.

While this important battle will continue to be waged in Congress, in my speeches across Oklahoma the past 6 months I have raised the very important issue- that seems to be lost on Congress- that nowhere in the United States Constitution does it provide the federal government the authority to require an individual to purchase health insurance, or be punished with a tax if he or she doesn’t.  This federal mandate and punitive tax are the hallmarks of the liberal pieces of health care legislation currently pending.  When confronted several weeks ago about the "constitutionality" of the pending health care proposals, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded "Are you serious?"  To dismiss such a legitimate, and fundamental, question that goes to the very heart of the debate is illustrative of the extent that liberal interests will go to achieve their ends of growing government.  In the 1990’s I spent four years working for former U.S. Senator Don Nickles in Washington, D.C. and know from personal experience that whether or not a bill is "constitutional" is rarely asked by those seeking to expand federal power.  In the case of the current health care proposals, this fundamental question is being ignored altogether, to the detriment of the rights of the people.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: "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."  James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 4, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite."  Plainly, our founding fathers envisioned a strong federalist system, with certain, enumerated powers vested in the federal government and the remainder of authority- necessarily including personal health care choices and the regulation of health insurance- to be vested with the people and the states respectively.
"Health care reform" is but one of several issues under consideration by this Congress that threaten to disrupt the critically-important balance of power in this country, moving more rights away from the people and state governments. "Cap and Trade," aside from the grave economic dangers it poses to Oklahoma and the entire country, has legal problems ripe for challenge, and other proposals threaten our 1st and  2nd Amendments freedoms (I will address these in future newsletters).  Simply stated, the Constitution is under attack, and depending on what legislation ultimately emerges from Congress, the Attorneys General of the various states will likely find themselves on the front lines of momentous, constitutional legal battles.  It is critical in 2010 that Oklahoma elects a conservative Attorney General who has the will to engage in this important fight to preserve our constitutional freedoms.