Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
With apologies to the famous song of the same title, the State of Georgia has produced some interesting legislation and proposed legislation these days. The latest in that long list of specious legislation is the proposal pushed by five Georgia State Senators that would set up a commission to review Federal laws. Any laws not approved by that commission would be nullified and would not be upheld in their state. If I understand the proposed legislation correctly, the State of Georgia, if this law is passed, would claim supremacy over Federal law. I realize that in some Tea Party view of the Constitution this makes sense, but not in the real world where the Constitution and court precedent makes it very clear that Federal law supersedes any and all conflicting State laws.
“The Constitution provides that acts of Congress “shall be the supreme law of the land” which is why states do not have the power to ignore federal law. Nevertheless, five Georgia state senators — including Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R) and senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R) — apparently do not believe that the Constitution applies to them. All five lawmakers introduced a wildly unconstitutional plan to have Georgia and its citizens simply ignore laws that its conservative leadership doesn’t want to follow:
(1) There is created the Joint Commission on Recommendation, which shall be charged with recommending and proposing for a vote by a constitutional majority the nullification in its entirety of a specific federal law or regulation which is deemed to be outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution or at odds with the Georgia Constitution . . .
(4) Upon recommendation for nullification, the General Assembly may vote to nullify following such recommendation. The appropriate documentation reflecting the vote shall be documented in legislative journals of the House and Senate. In the event the General Assembly votes by a constitutional majority to nullify any federal statute, mandate, or executive order on the grounds of constitutionality, neither the state nor its citizens shall recognize or be obligated to live under such statute, mandate, or executive order.” Truthout
Our friends in Georgia are taking the same path as Gov. Rick Perry chose in Texas when he pushed through a bill that would nullify a Federal law concerning light bulbs. Light Bulb It is amazing to me that in the year 2012, we are even having this discussion. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, Article 6, Clause 2, makes it very clear that Federal law is the “law of the land”.
“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.” U.S. Constitution The Supreme Court has upheld and confirmed the supremacy of Federal law over conflicting State legislation. But this idea of States nullifying Federal legislation continues to fester.
I question whether these State attempts to nullify Federal law is actually an attempt to discredit the current administration in the eyes of the supporters of these State officials rather than an effort to stop what they consider to be unjust laws. Are politics involved in these decisions to attempt to nullify Federal law?
Are these Georgia legislators trying to re-fight the Civil War with these claims of States superiority over Federal law? Are these nullification efforts related to the Tenther movement? Even our old friend, Ron Paul has come out as a supporter of this alleged power of States nullification of Federal law. Ron Paul Does it surprise you that a sitting U.S. Congressman would have these views?
Finally, while the attempts by States to nullify Federal laws isn’t new, the calls for nullification seem to have increased since President Obama came into office. Will the nullification movement die out if Obama is not re-elected? Let’s hear what you think!