Thursday, June 18, 2009

Western states reassert states' rights

From the Los Angeles Times:
Frustrated by the expanded power of Washington, a growing number of state lawmakers are defying the federal government and passing legislation aimed at rolling back the reach of Congress and President Obama.

While many measures are symbolic ones declaring the sovereignty of states, some Westerners are taking more dramatic steps. One Utah lawmaker wants to limit federal law enforcement in his state. In Montana, legislators enacted a bill that flagrantly ignores federal firearm restrictions, hoping to force a constitutional showdown.

Supporters of the bill want the Supreme Court to eliminate gun controls and, eventually, curtail Washington's ability to set policy on a wide range of issues, including education, civil rights, law enforcement and land use.

"It's about states' rights," said state Rep. Joel Boniek, an independent-turned-Republican from nearby Livingston, who introduced the bill. "Guns are just the vehicle."

The Montana Firearms Freedom Act seeks to exempt from federal regulation any firearm, gun component or ammunition made and kept within the state's borders. The legislation, signed by Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, becomes law Oct. 1, though federal officials will likely act quickly to keep the measure from taking effect.

Legal experts are skeptical Montana will prevail in court, and even some proponents express their doubts. But supporters say the fight is a necessary step to change Washington's attitude. Similar bills have been introduced in nearly a half dozen states, and lawmakers in about a dozen more have expressed interest.

"We need 15, 25, 30 states to pass these types of legislation, so that we send a clear message to the country and to the national government," said Utah Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from suburban Salt Lake City.

In addition to supporting a version of Montana's gun law, Wimmer is drafting legislation that would forbid local authorities to help enforce federal statutes inside Utah -- another bill that, if passed, would surely trigger a court fight. ...

Article here. As Utah Rep. Wimmer notes, we need more states to pass legislation reasserting their powers over areas not explicitly delegated in the U.S. Constitution to the federal government. A legal showdown is both necessary, and inevitable. The more states that have these types of laws, the more pressure the Supreme Court will feel to limit the scope of federal overreaching. Note, however, that should the Court disregard the clear intent of the Tenth Amendment, states may need to be ready to openly defy the feds and the Supremes.

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