Recently several state governments have been outdoing themselves to prove they are buggier than an ant farm. Now my state-of-origin, Missouri, has upped the crazy ante and made some moves that could shove it ahead of even Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas for the honor of leading the Barking Moonbat Parade.
First, the legislature passed a bill nullifying all federal gun law, and even making it a crime for a federal agent to enforce federal gun law. A Missouri citizen could sue a federal agent who arrested him for violation of federal law.
The Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the law last month. But the legislature is expected to override the veto when it meets in September.
In the House, all but one of the 109 Republicans voted for the bill, joined by 11 Democrats. In the Senate, all 24 Republicans supported it, along with 2 Democrats. Overriding the governorâ€™s veto would require 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House, where at least one Democrat would have to come on board. …
… What distinguishes the Missouri gun measure from the marijuana initiatives is its attempt to actually block federal enforcement by setting criminal penalties for federal agents, and prohibiting state officials from cooperating with federal efforts. That crosses the constitutional line, said Robert A. Levy, chairman of the libertarian Cato Instituteâ€™s board of directors â€” a state cannot frustrate the federal governmentâ€™s attempts to enforce its laws.
Seems to me what Missouri is doing borders on sedition. And yeah, the New York Times seriously did attempt a “both sides do it too” move by bringing up state marijuana laws.
Gary Marbut, a gun rights advocate in Montana who wrote the Firearms Freedom Act, said that such laws were â€œa vehicle to challenge commerce clause power,â€ the constitutional provision that has historically granted broad authority to Washington to regulate activities that have an impact on interstate commerce. His measure has served as a model that is spreading to other states. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down Montanaâ€™s law, calling it â€œpre-empted and invalid.â€
If firearms, which easily move across state borders all the time and are even sold on the bleeping Internet, do not fall under the Commerce Clause, nothing does.
And what about the supremacy clause that says federal law is the supreme 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.
The Tenth Amendment Center finds an out in the words “in pursuance thereof.” Legal experts say that “in pursuance thereof” means that U.S. law is supreme if the law falls within the federal government’s constitutionally enumerated powers. But the Tenth Amendment Center argues, in effect, that states can interpret the U.S. Constitution any way they like. Taken to logical extremes, this means states may respect federal law only when they’re in the mood to do so.
And, anyway, state representative Doug Funderburk says that what Missouri is doing isn’t nullification at all.
â€œWhat the bill does is positions Missouri to have standing to protect all Missourians, should the federal government decide to go down the course of people who literally just want to take your guns away,â€ he said in an interview. â€œIt does nothing to intervene with reasonable regulations.”
But if the bill does nullify all federal gun law, and makes it criminal for federal agents to arrest anybody, this suggests to me that they think no federal regulation is reasonable.
When we talk about modern conservatism’s being the province of reckless vandalism, this is what we’re talking about. Nullification has been tried several times in the country’s history. (During the nullification crisis that marked his presidency, Andrew Jackson called an aging Mr. Madison out of retirement to knock it down.) It always ends badly. The Supremacy Clause is as much a part of the Constitution as the Second Amendment. This is not government by principle. This is government by don’t-give-a-fk.
But there’s more. Missouri also is trying to nullify Obamacare. John Perr writes,
An estimated 877,000 people in Missouri are currently uninsured. But despite Gov. Nixon’s best effort, Republican legislators block the expansion of Medicaid, leaving 267,000 in Missouri stuck in the “coverage gap.” All told, some 5.5 million people in GOP-dominated states, McClatchy explained, will find themselves trapped in “a bureaucratic twilight zone where people with poverty-level incomes don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t get tax credits to help buy coverage on the new insurance marketplaces.”
But in Missouri, things will be even worse. Republicans there didn’t just refuse to accept billions in federal Medicaid dollars or set up their own state health care exchange. They are actively undermining any outreach or customer service for Show Me State residents seeking information about or help enrolling in new insurance plans made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
The barriers to health insurance erected by Republicans are staggering in their size and scope. Last year, the Washington Post reported, “voters approved a ballot initiative barring state and local government officials from helping to implement the law.” Along with Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, Missouri is refusing to enforce the ACA’s new insurance reforms and prohibitions, such as refusing to cover those with pre-existing conditions, using “rescission” to drop coverage for those who become sick, discriminating against women and setting annual or lifetime benefits caps. And while Colorado, California, Oregon and other blue states are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund thousands of customer service “navigators,” in Missouri “local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place.”
Maybe the feds should stop worrying about Syria and pay attention to Jefferson City instead.