Republican lawmakers in Arizona — including State Senate President Russell Pearce (R), who sponsored the state’s controversial immigration law — have introduced a bill that sets up a way for the state to ignore federal laws it doesn’t like.
The bill, SB1433, would establish a 12 person legislative committee that could “recommend, propose and call for a vote by simple majority to nullify in its entirety a specific federal law or regulation that is outside the scope of the powers delegated by the People to the federal government in the United States Constitution.” The committee would be made up of six members of the State House and six members of the State Senate, with no more than four from each chamber coming from a single party. After the committee made a recommendation, the state legislature would then have 60 days to vote on whether to nullify the federal law.
But that’s not all, the bill would also allow the committee to review “all existing federal statutes, mandates and Executive orders for the purpose of determining their constitutionality.”
Written into the bill itself is a section that basically tells Congress to butt out:
This act serves as a notice and demand to the Congress and the federal government to cease and desist all activities outside the scope of their constitutionally designated powers.
Nullification is something of a throwback idea. It was debated during the country’s first few decades, and invoked by Southern segregationists during the Civil Rights Era. It also clearly goes against the language of the Constitution:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
Speaker Pro Tempore of House Steve Montenegro (R) and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Sylvia Allen (R) are also sponsoring the Arizona bill.
(h/t The Arizona Republic)
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com