The Stupid Just Keeps Getting More and More Stoopid (part 1)
Ind. senator wants Legislature empowered to nullify federal law
When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958 explicitly struck down nullification, the theory that states can declare federal laws unconstitutional and ignore them, the court warned state legislators that endorsing nullification violates their oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
State Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, doesn’t care.
“I think our state’s rights have been illegitimately violated by the federal government and I think it’s something that we need to address,” Boots said. “Somebody at some point has to take a stand. We have to stand up for what the Constitution says and right now, no one is doing that.”
Boots is sponsor of Senate Bill 230, which authorizes the Indiana General Assembly to declare federal laws unconstitutional. Any person caught implementing or enforcing a federal law declared void by Indiana would be guilty of a Class D felony, punishable by up to three years in prison.
The legislation specifically finds the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, exceeds the powers of the federal government and is therefore unenforceable in Indiana.
That contravenes a June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Obamacare is constitutional.
“The Supreme Court is misinterpreting the Constitution,” Boots said. “We’ve seen case after case after case of the federal government telling us what to do and I don't think they have the authority to do that.”
Boots contends that states created the federal government and gave Congress a list of specific enumerated powers. He said any action taken by Congress is illegitimate if it's not on that list, and the states, not the Supreme Court, have the authority to determine the legitimacy of federal laws.
That argument for nullification has been made several times in U.S. history, most often by southern state lawmakers seeking to protect the institution of slavery prior to the Civil War and trying to prevent racial integration of public schools during the 20th century.
U.S. courts have repeatedly struck down state attempts to nullify federal law.
In the most significant ruling, Cooper v. Aaron (1958), the Supreme Court declared the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution makes nullification impossible, as federal law is always superior to state law.
In that decision, the nation’s high court also instructed state lawmakers, like Boots, that refusing to accept the supremacy of federal law, and the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret it, is “war against the Constitution” and a violation of their oath to support America’s primary governing document.
Boots, however, is unlikely to be punished by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Though Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, has assigned Boots’ legislation to the Rules Committee, where bills Long doesn’t like typically go to die.
Boots said he'll ask Long to at least give his proposal a hearing.
I think Carden does a very good job of setting forth the lunacy of Sen. Boots’ Senate Bill 230. But it’s worth taking a few moments to really contemplate what Sen. Boots’ is both claiming and proposing. First, he knows better than the United States Supreme Court what is and is not constitutional. And he knows that the rights of Indiana have been “illegitimately violated by the federal government” (notwithstanding that some of us might disagree). And he believes that “Somebody at some point has to take a stand. We have to stand up for what the Constitution says and right now, no one is doing that.” That’s right. The Supreme Court doesn’t know what the Constitution does and doesn’t permit and, apparently, doesn’t have the right to decide what the Constitution does and doesn’t permit. On the other hand, a state senator from Crawfordsville, Indiana, does have the right to make those sorts of determinations. And if those big, bad, evil legislators in Congress, elected by the people, vote to do something and the Supreme Court rules that something to be Constitutional, well never-you-mind, because good ol’ Sen. Boots and the State of Indiana can just tell ’em they’re wrong! You know, just like the South did when they wanted to preserve the right to own humans.
And this is the type of person being elected to Indiana’s legislature.
If Congress were to pass a law that says you can’t fire someone just because they’re gay, could Indiana say, “nope, sorry, we hate them faggots here in the heartland and if we wanna fire ’em, then gosh darnit, we can! Maybe imprison ’em, too!”? Under SB230 it would appear that the answer to that question would be “yep”. Or maybe Sen. Boots would like to nullify federal laws that prevent Indiana from charging poll taxes to people whose skin is a few shades darker than his. Maybe he’d like to nullify federal laws that require prisoners to be treated humanely or hospitals to treat anyone who shows up at the emergency room. Maybe only men should be allowed to decide what a woman does with her body!Who knows. But do recognize that the law that has caught Sen. Boots’ attention is designed to help people by broadening those covered by insurance and to do so through the private marketplace. In Sen. Boots’ fantasy world (maybe horror is the better genre), that is the kind of “evil” that needs to be stomped out, via nullification or, perhaps if that isn’t enough, through revolution. You know, the “blood of tyrants” and all that really needs to be spilled to keep people from having healthcare.
Think about it this way: If states have the right to nullify federal laws, then aren’t we really creating a system of total chaos where Republican states will simply nullify laws passed by a Democratic Congress (or, similarly, where Democratic states would nullify laws passed by a Republican Congress)? For that matter, why can’t Marion County or Hamilton County nullify a state law that they find “unconstitutional”? Why can’t Carmel overrule Hamilton County? Why can’t my subdivision overrule Carmel? Why can’t I overrule my subdivision? Nope. No possibility of chaos here. Move along.
Ah, but Sen. Boots’ form of stupid stupidity isn’t unique. Nope. In part 2, I’ll take a look at Senate Bill 127 authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse (yes, the same guy who wants Indiana’s children to recite The Lord’s Prayer) which would require a federal agent to get the permission of the attorney general or county sheriff before arresting someone for violating federal law. Seriously.
Updated to fix typos.