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Party Lines: Should states be able to negate federal laws? Read more: Davis County Clipper - Party Lines Should states be able to negate federal laws

December 7, 2010
In The News
by Ben Horsley Davis County Clipper
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First and foremost, thank you Congressman Rob Bishop for taking the time to visit with me regarding this proposed amendment. I very much appreciate having a congressional representative who is so responsive when contacted.

Let's first clarify what this amendment is not. This is not about nullification. Nullification is saying federal law doesn't apply to Utah, whereas it may apply everywhere else. This is not about states' rights or the 10th amendment. States rights are about power and control. This amendment doesn't do any of those things.

What does this amendment do? It's about creating a vertical balance between the states and the federal government. This concept of a vertical balance has always been intended by our Founding Fathers but has been significantly diluted over the last five decades. This amendment will give states a tool to have redress against unconstitutional mandates and requirements.

Unlike most regulatory language, the text of the amendment is clear, simple and concise. It states, "Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

Who would be against such a provision? Power-hungry Washingtonians who think they know how to run states better than our own local elected officials. The hypocrisy by the opposition to such a measure is rampant. Why would out of control spending, debt-ridden liberal congressional representatives know what is better for states than local officials?

States have to balance their budgets. The federal government doesn't. This is like that bankrupt relative who always asks you for money while giving you financial advice and telling you how to manage your money.

Think about it in these terms: If a law passed by Congress were so egregious that two-thirds of states could muster sufficient votes to pass resolutions in opposition; that would be a significant amount of our nation's population. That type of message would also require a vast amount of bi-partisanship from states that don't see eye-to-eye on a majority of issues — which begs the question, what is the opposition really afraid of?

The fearful opposition will rally that this is an attack against the healthcare bill or myriad other poorly thought out unfunded federal mandates. But really, if two-thirds of states have a problem with a law or regulation, chances are there is a problem, and most Americans would agree.

This is not a Republican versus Democrat issue either. If this provision were in place, how many states would support a repeal of the Bush/Kennedy No Child Left Behind education reform?

I, for one, have no problem with hanging this amendment over Congress' head. It will require the federal government to take a little extra time to think about what and how they mandate and how they will impact states. We need a more careful and less casual approach to legislation at all levels. And really, who can legitimately argue against more government accountability? Could we let common sense prevail for once?