Friday, March 19, 2010

states rights is rallying cry for lawmakers

NYTimes | Whether it’s correctly called a movement, a backlash or political theater, state declarations of their rights — or in some cases denunciations of federal authority, amounting to the same thing — are on a roll.

Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Friday declaring that the federal regulation of firearms is invalid if a weapon is made and used in South Dakota.

On Thursday, Wyoming’s governor, Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, signed a similar bill for that state. The same day, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved a resolution that Oklahomans should be able to vote on a state constitutional amendment allowing them to opt out of the federal health care overhaul.

In Utah, lawmakers embraced states’ rights with a vengeance in the final days of the legislative session last week. One measure said Congress and the federal government could not carry out health care reform, not in Utah anyway, without approval of the Legislature. Another bill declared state authority to take federal lands under the eminent domain process. A resolution asserted the “inviolable sovereignty of the State of Utah under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.”

Some legal scholars say the new states’ rights drive has more smoke than fire, but for lawmakers, just taking a stand can be important enough.

“Who is the sovereign, the state or the federal government?” said State Representative Chris N. Herrod, a Republican from Provo, Utah, and leader of the 30-member Patrick Henry Caucus, which formed last year and led the assault on federal legal barricades in the session that ended Thursday. Fist tap Nana.