Tag Archives: nullification

Legislators propose ‘nullifying Obamacare’ through ‘anti-commandeering doctrine’

News release from Sen. Mae Beavers, Rep. Mark Pody
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), January 16, 2014 – Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) announced Wednesday that they will sponsor a bill to resist implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Tennessee. Based on similar legislation already introduced in Georgia, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act would prohibit any cooperation by the state or its agencies in implementing or administering the federal health care program commonly referred to as ObamaCare.

The lawmakers say the bill rests on the legal foundation known as the anti-commandeering doctrine in which Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

“The federal government does not have constitutional authority to commandeer state and local governments to enforce or implement these federal healthcare mandates,” said Senator Beavers. “It’s time that Tennessee says no to assisting them in the implementation of this disastrous program. This legislation takes a very strong stand to resist this federal overreach of power.”

“This action, especially in conjunction with similar steps being taken in other states, has the effect of nullifying ObamaCare,” added Rep. Pody. “If the feds cannot even build an appropriate website or keep their promises to consumers, they will be extremely hard-pressed to implement the other provisions for this program within our boundaries.”

Beavers’ and Pody’s legislation:

directs that no powers, assets, employees, agents or contractors of the state or its local government subdivisions, including higher education institutions, can be used to implement or administer the federal health care program;

bans Obamacare healthcare exchanges in the state;

prohibits local governments in Tennessee from participating in or purchasing insurance from an ObamaCare health insurance exchange;

provides that any health insurance contracts purchased in violation shall be void in a court of law in Tennessee; and

empowers the General Assembly to enact sanctions, fines and penalties for violation of the proposed law and gives the state’s Attorney General the right to file a lawsuit against violators;

“The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-bycase weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty,” said National Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, which assisted in drafting the bill.

“There is no question that this bill sits on sound legal footing,” Maharrey said. “So, let’s focus the debate on whether or not the people of Tennessee want Obamacare. After witnessing the website debacle, watching people who wanted to keep their insurance lose it and knowing that’s only the beginning of the government-created chaos to come, I’m guessing they don’t.”

“We are a sovereign state,” Beavers and Pody continued. “We have the constitutional authority to refuse to use our state dollars and personnel to implement this disastrous federal law. We look forward to presenting this bill as soon as possible and believe it has an excellent chance for passage.”

Columnist says progressives should back state rights, too

Frank Cagle says in his weekly column that progressives should be joining conservatives in asserting state rights to bypass misguided federal laws and conservative should be more consistent.

When Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, they were practicing nullification. The end result is the federal government declining to enforce federal laws governing marijuana in those states.

Kentucky has legalized the growing of hemp to make products for business and industry. It is not illegal to possess hemp, as long as you import it from China. It has a lot of useful purposes—making ropes and clothing, for example. It does not get you high like its pot cousin.

By what authority does the federal government have the right to prevent a farmer from growing hemp as a cash crop? The Kentucky legalization will likely wind up in court, should the feds decide to enforce it. But if they don’t intend to enforce marijuana laws in Colorado, are they going to put Kentucky hemp farmers in jail?

…When state after state legalized gay marriage, they set up a confrontation with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court rightly ruled that marriage is a state matter and that the federal government’s attempt to dictate to the states was unconstitutional.

…No, contrary to what some conservatives believe, states cannot nullify a constitutional federal edict. And they can’t decide on their own whether a law is constitutional or not—it is still up to the Supreme Court. But they can test federal power and ask for a ruling.

Some conservatives are outraged, of course, about legalized marijuana and gay marriage. It is easy to forget your conservative principles when the shoe is on the other foot.

Nullification Bill Fails on 4-4 Tie Vote in Senate Judiciary

After an hour of impassioned debate over whether state legislatures can overrule federal statutes or U.S. Supreme Court decisions, legislation calling for Tennessee nullification of federal firearms laws failed on a 4-4 tie vote Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
State Attorney General Bob Cooper had issued a formal legal opinion declaring the bill (SB250) was unconstitutional because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. But sponsor Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, brought in witnesses to counter Cooper’s opinion.
Most notable was a woman calling herself “Publius Huldah,” who refused to give her real name. She operates a blog under that name that promotes nullification as a valid constitutional principle.
“When the federal government makes a clearly ursurpatious law, such as restricting firearms, it is the duty of the state” to nullify that law, she said.
The committee chairman, Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown, said the bill is unconstitutional and could lead to Tennessee sheriffs and their deputies “going out and using deadly force, potentially to shoot and kill federal authorities, for enforcing the federal laws.”
The bill, as filed declares the federal agents trying to enforce a law deemed void by the Legislature would be subject to felony prosecution. An amendment added Wednesday at Beavers’ request dropped the crime rating to a misdemeanor, which she said would mean federal agents could be issued a citation rather than being arrested and taken into custody by state law enforcement officers.
A legislative liaison for Gov. Bill Haslam was asked the governor’s view on the bill. Samuel Arnold told the committee the administration has “significant concerns about the constitutionality” of the bill and there is “a good chance he (Haslam) is not going to sign it.” Without an actual veto, however, the bill would become law without the governor’s signature.
The final 4-4 vote came with one member of the panel, Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, absent. Those voting for the bill were Sens. Mike Bell, R-Riceville; Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville; Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga; and Mark Green, R-Clarksville. Voting no were Sens. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson; Kelsey; Doug Overbey, R-Maryville; and John Stevens, R-Huntingdon.

AG Says Federal Gun Law Nullification Bill is Unconstitutional

A bill that declares Tennessee can declare federal firearms laws “null and void” within its borders and prosecute federal officers enforcing them is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to another attorney general’s opinion released Monday.
The opinion on SB250 was requested by Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. His committee voted 5-4 to postpone a vote on the bill by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, to seek Cooper’s opinion. Beavers argued that the state, through the Legislature or other officials, can nullify federal laws that exceed the federal government’s authority.
The opinion quotes a U.S. Supreme Court case: “If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery . . . .No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it.”

Note: Full opinion HERE. Previous post HERE.

Federal Gun Law Nullification Debated, Delayed

Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey, comparing himself at one point to Andrew Jackson in 1832, managed to delay Tuesday a vote on legislation that declares Tennessee has a right to nullify federal gun laws and charge federal agents enforcing them with committing a felony.
The committee voted 5-4 to grant Kelsey’s call to postpone a vote on the proposal (SB250) for one week while he seeks a legal opinion from state Attorney General Bob Cooper on whether it would violate the U.S. Constitution.
Sponsor Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, said the U.S. Constitution authorizes states – through their legislatures – to decide the validity of federal laws.
She understands that lawyers believe the Supreme Court is the “ultimate arbitrator” of constitutionality, Beavers said, and that has allowed justics “setting themselves up as a dictator” and “generation after generation we have just accepted that.”
But that is wrong, she said, and the 10th Amendment lets states decide what laws are constitution and which can be ignored or nullified.
Beavers’ view was reenforced by June Griffin of Dayton, who heads the Tennessee Commission on the Bill of Rights. Griffin said Tennessee’s own constitution cast upon legislators – and sheriffs around the state – a duty to resist federal intrusion by supporting the bill.

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Remembering Andrew Jackson and Nullification

If one Tennessee legislator gets his way, federal agents could be arrested for enforcing any potential assault weapons ban. But the concept of a state trying to cancel out federal measures was already tried 180 years ago, observes WPLN’s Nina Cardona. And the president who squashed that effort was one of Nashville’s most famous residents.
In 1832, the hot-button issue wasn’t guns, but tariffs-taxes on imported goods which many Southerners considered constitutionally suspect. South Carolina went so far as to declare the tariffs null and void, bar anyone from collecting them within that state, and even threatened to secede.
President Andrew Jackson responded with a proclamation taking apart the maneuver point by point.
“Near the end of it he appealed to South Carolinians directly and he said, ‘you’re Americans. You’re not just South Carolinians, you’re Americans,’ told them it was wrongheaded to consider national legislation merely from the point of local or state interest.”
University of Tennessee History Professor Daniel Feller says Jackson ultimately won that battle, showing that the Constitution simply doesn’t allow states to pick and choose which laws to follow. But Jackson also reminded states of a place they can protest: the Supreme Court.

‘Nullification Bill’ Draws Critical Questioning

State Rep. Bill Dunn says his bill requiring federal agencies to notify local law enforcement officers before making arrests in Tennessee is a means of “standing up for the people” against an overreaching federal government.
“There comes a point where we’ve got to put a little bit of pressure on the feds and stand up for our citizens,” the Knoxville Republican told members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee last week.
But Dunn’s HB2610 faced almost an hour of critical questioning from members of the panel who wondered if it amounted to unnecessary overreaching by the Legislature as a “nullification” effort that could jeopardize investigations into local corruption and lead to deputy sheriffs arresting federal agents.
Van Irion, an attorney for the Liberty Legal Foundation who finished third in the 10-candidate Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District nomination in 2010, fielded most of the questions on the legislation that he helped draft. It is a revised version of a bill that was introduced last year which failed to pass.

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Bill to Establish ‘Nullification Committee’ Dies Without Debate

A proposal to establish a legislative committee that would review federal laws and regulations then recommend which, if any, should be nullified by the General Assembly died in a House subcommittee today without debate.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge. When Ragan stepped to the podium at the State and Local Government Subcommittee, Chairman Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, asked if there was a motion on HB1212. No one on the committee spoke and Ramsey promptly declared that the bill had failed for lack of a motion.
There was thus no discussion of the bill, though Turner remarked that “I thought he (Ragan) might be opening a can of worms” as the sponsor left the room and the committee moved on the next bill.
In a brief interview afterwards, Ragan acknowledged that the bill “is a dead issue for this year.” He said the measure would create a mechanism for formal review of federal decisions by state legislators that is now lacking, though justified by the U.S. Constitution.
Ragan noted that the Constitution originally gave state legislatures the right to select a state’s U.S. senators, who are now chosen by popular election. With loss of that right, states have no effective means to oppose federal decisions except through he court system, he said, and that is inadequate.
The freshman lawmaker said he does not know why colleagues rejected his bill, though he has talked with some who were concerned that the bill would lead to “expensive litigation” in the courts” and others want to see how pending court cases – notably including those involving a federal health care reform law — “shake out” before going to such an alternative method of challenging federal laws and regulations.