Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield
Tennessee has joined the list of states looking to yank the reins on the federal government’s expansion into what more and more state lawmakers are considering their own prerogatives.
“We have to smack their hand a little to get it out of the cookie jar,” state Sen. Stacey Campfield told WND today after confirming that he and state state Rep. Matthew Hill have launched Tennessee’s version of a national nullification bill.
WND reported just days ago that Arizona and Montana were the first two states to introduce the proposals to set up standing state commissions to review “all existing federal statutes, mandates, and executive orders” to determine their constitutionality.
The results would be recommendations to state lawmakers whether any particular federal plan should be “nullified” in that state.
There, it would direct “the general assembly to appoint a committee to review all federal laws and regulations for constitutionality” and require the committee to submit for a vote of the general assembly all federal laws and regulations “it deems to be invalid under the Tennessee or federal constitutions.”
The plan has been promoted by The Patriots Union, a Wyoming-based organization that is taking in hand the battle against what it considers an overreaching federal government.
Campfield said it’s not that the federal government has gone “a little too far.”
“It’s gone way too far in what their responsibilities are,” he said. “Probably half of what the federal government is trying to stick their nose into.”
WND previously has reported that a large number of states are taking to the battlefield against Washington over specific issues state lawmakers and governments believe they should decide, rather than taking dictation from Washington.
The key, however, analysts have said, is what will happen when the first actual confrontation comes between the federal government and a state exercising its constitutional rights.
Campfield said, “I would like to think that the state would prevail. … It comes down to who has the final say.”
He said he’s talked with a number of Tennessee sheriffs who say they are ready, willing and able to take on that argument.
Campfield said he’s optimistic that the idea will catch fire in his state, which now has a GOP majority in the House and Senate and a Republican in the governor’s office.
“I would like to think there’s enough spine this year,” he said.
Attorney Stephen Pidgeon, a spokesman for the Patriots Union, said states are starting to assert their rights under the Constitution.
He said the idea is as old as the administration of Jimmy Carter, because at that time it was called the “Sagebrush Rebellion” when Western states fought back against Washington’s control of land inside their borders, especially oil-rich and coal-filled land resources.
“There is no constitutional right for the federal government to hold natural resources, federal parks,” he said. “For states such as Utah, which has been fighting with the federal government to regain ownership of its own lands, [this nullification plan] offers a strong argument to chase the government off its property.”
The issue is being forced into the headlines by Barack Obama’s decision that effectively would nationalize the decision-making process for health care across the U.S., under Obamacare.
But states also have raised the issue of currency, the REAL ID Act, marijuana laws, guns, health care regulation and others.
“Under the Constitution states are required to use coinage of gold and silver,” Pidgeon said. “But the federal government has inflicted on the states the fraud of a debased fiat currency.
“This is the best mechanism that has been developed to date to put the beast back in the cage,” he said.
Whereas Washington also used to be able to demand its way by making delivery of federal funds to states dependent on their cooperation, he said, that now is an empty hope.
“The federal government is bankrupt,” he said, making it for states a matter of survival.
“This is no longer a policy issue. It’s not ‘shall we have salt or pepper.’ The question is ‘shall we eat or not.'”
Officials with the Patriots Union say dozens of states are working on the idea of a nullification plan.
Major components of the proposal are:
- Establish the constitutional grounds for state nullification
- Establish a swift method for nullification of any unconstitutional federal act, past, present or future
- Establish that only the US Supreme Court has “original jurisdiction” under Article III of the U.S. Constitution
- Establish that the people (not the courts) have the final word
- Establish the very limited role and power of the federal government under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments
- Reject modern expansions of power via misinterpretations of the commerce, welfare and supremacy clauses
- Regain state and citizen control over the runaway FED
The legislative proposal is a huge leap beyond what already has developed among the states whose officials are telling Washington to back off on individual issues ranging from state marijuana laws, National Guard control, and the imposition of Obamacare, the nationalized health care program.
Barbara Ketay, head of the organization’s Constitutional Justice Division, was integral in researching and drafting the proposal, which was distributed to members of state legislatures where it now either has been introduced or is being developed.
She told WND her proposed legislation has options for states to describe the size and composition – or even designation – of their commissions. But the focus is the rights of the states which, according to the U.S. Constitution, includes everything not specifically assigned to the federal government.
“This is not anything new,” she told WND. “We just reiterated the power that the states have always had.”
But she said over the past 70 or 80 years, the “federal government has been encroaching on the [rights and responsibilities] of the states.”
Bills such as those to nullify Obamacare or federal firearms rules are all fine, she noted. But this is a “broad sweeping bill” that will cover almost any dispute that a state would have with the federal government, she said.
Potential to address issues
“This bill has the potential” to address a large number of issues, she said. “States have to realize they are sovereign. They have a compact with the federal government. The federal government was established to serve at the pleasure of the states.”
In Arizona, the “USPU Nullification Act” was introduced as SB 1433 by Sen. Lori Klein, and it’s being support by several cosponsors already. It first was introduced in Montana, where House Bill 382 is sponsored by Rep. D. Skees.
“If passed, the bill reasserts the states’ right to nullify any federal statute, executive order or judicial intrusion which the state legislature deems unconstitutional and abusive toward the states or the people of the states,” the Patriots Union explained.
The project was helped along by the work of Stand Up America, the organization run by Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely.
According the Patriots Union, “The sovereign states lost congressional representation of states’ interests in 1913 with the passage of the 17th Amendment, which removed the constitutional right of each state legislature to choose two representatives of state interests, to be seated in the U.S. Senate.
“Since then, all branches of the federal government have increasingly acted against the best interests of the states and the people, reaching farther and farther beyond the scope and authority granted them in the U.S. Constitution and today, the federal government functions with utter disdain for both states’ and individual rights.”
The explanation continued, “With no legitimate venue available in which to demand redress of grievances in the legislative, executive or judicial branches of the federal government at present, we have determined that the people of each state, via their elected stated officials, must take broad but specific state measures to force the federal government to live within the confines of the U.S. Constitution and the enumerated powers.”
Prohibits ‘infringement’ of rights
In Montana, the proposal is “an act prohibiting infringement of the state of Montana’s constitutional right to nullification of any federal statute, mandate or executive order considered unconstitutional.”
It specifically repudiates the federal belief that the “Commerce Clause,” the “Necessary and Proper Clause” or the “General Welfare Clause” are foundations for a complete federal control over states.
“Congress and the federal government are denied the power to establish laws within the state that are repugnant and obtrusive to state law and to the people within the state,” it states.
“[This act] serves as a notice and demand to the federal government to cease and desist all activities outside the scope of the federal government’s constitutionally designated powers.”
Arizona’s calls for its secretary of state to “transmit copies of this act to the legislatures of the several states to assure that this state continues in the same esteem and friendship as currently exists and that this state considers union for specific national purposes and particularly those enumerated in the Constitution of the United States to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the states.”
It also specifies that the president, president of the Senate, Speaker of the House and members of Congress be notified of the plan.
They both provide that if adopted, their state committees, “may recommend for nullification existing federal statutes, mandates and executive orders enacted before the effective date of this section.”
Following the committees’ recommendations, the state legislatures would vote on the validity of the federal action.
‘Of no effect’
“Until the vote, the issue in question is of no effect. … If the legislature votes by simple majority to nullify any federal statute, mandate or executive order on the grounds of constitutionality, this state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.”
Further, the “committee shall ensure that the legislature adopts and enacts all measures that may be necessary to prevent the enforcement …”
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, which advocates a return to the constitutionally delegated powers for the federal government, Thomas Jefferson advised, “Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers … a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”
A multitude of nullification acts already are in the works across the nation on issues ranging from firearms freedom acts that reject some federal gun laws, a rejection of Washington’s mandates on cannabis laws and even Obamacare.
Center founder Michael Boldin said the idea that states would reject a Washington demand is not radical, it’s reasonable. He said what’s radical is “the idea that the federal government can be the final arbiter of the extent of its own powers.”