States pushing back against Washington overreach
This is an interesting piece in Politico about how most states, with both Republican and Democratic administrations, are pushing back against Washington overrreach.
The areas of concern include federal gun control, health care, and standrards for drivers' liceneses.
In at least 37 states legislation has been introduced that in some way guts federal gun regulations, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The bills were signed into law this spring in two states, Kansas and Alaska, and in two more lawmakers hope to override a governor's veto. Twenty states since 2010 have passed laws that either opt out of or challenge mandatory parts of Obamacare, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. And half the states have OK'd measures aimed knocking back the Real ID Act of 2005, which dictates Washington's requirements for issuing driver's licenses.
"Rosa Parks is the beacon of light: If you say no to something, you can change the world," Michael Boldin, the Founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, which favors states' rights, told POLITICO.
"Isn't that what it's supposed to be, 'We, the people?'" he added. "Over the past few years you've seen this growing...People are getting sick and tired of federal power."
In fact, the state-level anger at the nation's capital has reached such a fever pitch that many of the bills do not even address specific federal laws, but rather amount to what is in effect "preemptive" nullification, wiping out, for instance, any federal law that may exist in the future that the states determine violates gun rights. The flurry of such efforts was spurred by fear on the part of states that in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that Congress would pass restrictive gun control legislation.
Supporters of nullification say it's the best tool they have to try to beat back an intrusive federal government that they say is more and more trampling on the rights of states.
But critics respond that the flood of legislation to override the feds is folly that won't stand up in court and amounts to a transparent display of the political and personal distaste for President Barack Obama.
A "personal distaste" for President Obama it may be, but that's hardly relevant. The reason doesn't matter. The question is what recourse states have to resist federal power?
The constitutional viability of nullifcation has been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court. The supremacy clause in the constitution that places federal power over a state's power to resist it has always been upheld. This was an important addition to the constitution because without it, there almost certainly would have been chaos as states got to pick and choose which federal laws to obey and enforce. The whole point of the Constitutional Convention was to strengthen the power of the central government. It was the clear intent of the framers not to allow states the ability to resist federal authority.
If push comes to shove, these state laws will be found to be overreaching themselves and be struck down. Refusing to enforce a gun control statute, for instance, will only bring federal power into the state in the form of increased ATF agents to do what the state is refusing to do.
The theory behind nullifcation has been discredited time and time again. Why it keeps emerging says more about people's frustration with federal overreach than it does about any viable legal principle.