Is secession — or, if not that, nullification and true states right — a possibility in the foreseeable future? Though the idea has entered, in a small way, into the national debate, I am personally hesitant to acknowledge it as an event which our generation will live to see. However, we are still young and the states appear to be getting the idea that something needs to be done. For example:
- Montana and Tennessee have enacted legislation declaring that firearms made and kept within those states are beyond the authority of the federal government. Similar versions of the law, known as the Firearms Freedom Act, have been introduced in at least four other states.
- Arizona lawmakers will let voters decide a proposed state constitutional amendment that would opt the state out of federal healthcare mandates under consideration in Congress. The amendment will be placed on the November 2010 ballot. State Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said five other states considered similar versions of the amendment this year and at least nine others are expected to do so next year.
- Nearly two dozen states have approved resolutions refusing to participate in the Real ID Act of 2005, which requires that driver’s licenses and state ID cards conform to federal standards. A similar resolution was introduced in the 2009 Texas Legislature but died in committee.
- A campaign called “Bring the Guard Home” is pushing legislation in 23 states that would empower governors to recall state National Guard units from Iraq on the premise that the federal law authorizing such deployments has expired. “It’s gaining momentum, to say the least,” said Jim Draeger, program manager for Peace Action Wisconsin. He said the initiative has a respectable chance of passing the Legislature in his state.
All of this is good news, though my pessimism doubts that much of it will be very effective. The states have a 150-year long tradition of being utterly subservient to the federal government, and intertia is hard to break. I have strong doubts that anything significant will come of these movements, but maybe this is the beginning of a real change in the way these two levels of government interact. I hope it is.Published in