States fight back against Obama Administration policies

Don't Tread On Me

There has been somewhat of a revival of nullification over the last few years as governors and state legislatures have pushed back against some of the policies pushed by the Obama Administration. While some may scoff at the idea of nullification, citing federal supremacy over states, Washington has passed a number of laws that have passed on heavy costs to states or trample into areas that should left to their control.

Politico recently highlighted the pushback from states on various policies being pushed by the Obama Administration — including gun control, ObamaCare, and REAL ID — and whether it’s an viable tool to buck federal mandates:

Infuriated by what they see as the long arm of Washington reaching into their business, states are increasingly telling the feds: Keep out!

Bills that would negate a variety of federal laws have popped up this year in the vast majority of states — with the amount of anti-federal legislation sharply on the rise during the Obama administration, according to experts.
[…]
But critics respond that the flood of legislation to override the feds is folly that won’t stand up in court and amounts to a transparent display of the political and personal distaste for President Barack Obama. And in some cases, the moves in the states have provoked an administration counteroffensive: Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Kansas after it passed the Second Amendment Protection Act threatening legal action if necessary to enforce federal laws.

Even some conservatives — certainly no lovers of the Obama administration — warn that the states are going down the wrong path with nullification — distracted by what lawmakers think is a silver-bullet solution, but one that likely won’t stand up in the courts — when in fact there are much better (and legal) ways for the states to resist.

Though an interesting political theory, nullification is also a tricky subject with little constitutional basis. But that doesn’t mean that states can’t throw a wrench in the federal government’s plans from time to time.

For example, states had success in blocking parts of the REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005 and signed by then-President George W. Bush, this law nationalized drivers license and identification standards. Roughly half of the states have pass statutes or resolutions against REAL ID, prompting the federal government to continuously delay implementation of the law, effectively nullifying it.

Some of the opposition against was based on the cost of implementation, for which there was little money passed to states by the federal government. Other arguments were based on constitutionality, since there is nothing giving the federal government the authority to nationalize these standards, meaning that it’s left up to individual states via the Tenth Amendment.

States have also passed measures to nullify NDAA, which authorized the indefinite detention of Americans merely accused of terrorist activities. And Colorado and Oregon passed referenda just last year that legalized recreational ue of marijuana, defying federal drug laws.

States were given somewhat of a reprieve on ObamaCare, through last year’s Supreme Court decision. While there was much to dislike in the outcome of the case, the Court did give states the opportunity to opt-out of ObamaCare’s costly state exchanges and Medicare expansion.

It gets more tricky with gun control. While Congress does have the ability to regulate guns, though they can’t regulate the Second Amendment of existence. Gun rights are an honorable cause to fight for, but states fighting legislatively may find a tough road in the courts, as Politico notes after talking to conservative and libertarian legal analysts.

States have a better just telling the federal government “no” when it comes to enforcement, just like they did with REAL ID. That’s probably a better idea than trying to pass laws that courts are likely to strike down.


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