By The Greenwood Commonwealth, Greenwood Miss.
GREENWOOD, Miss. —
Wiser heads — surely there must be some — in the Mississippi Legislature should put the quietus on a tea party-backed proposal by two Columbus lawmakers to establish a state agency designed to defy federal law.
Republican state Reps. Gary Chism and Jeff Smith filed a bill to form the Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Laws.
Supposedly the committee — consisting of the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the House and six lawmakers from each branch of the Legislature — would be charged with reviewing existing federal laws and executive orders and recommending those to be “neutralized.” Then if the majority of the Legislature backs the recommendation, Mississippians wouldn’t be obligated to “live under the statute, mandate or federal order.”
It’s the same old 10th Amendment argument that says powers not specifically reserved for the federal government are reserved for the states. The trouble, so far as states’ rights are concerned, is that when federal laws and state laws are in conflict, the federal laws always prevail.
This has been shown repeatedly across history, including the Civil War and the civil rights movement 100 years later.
What has brought on the latest resurgence of the idea — also invoked by Gov. Phil Bryant — that states’ rights can trump federal law and executive orders in Mississippi is the unpopularity of President Barack Obama’s health care initiatives and his proposals on gun control.
The only constitutional way these can be challenged is in the federal courts and in Congress. Once a federal law is passed and upheld by the courts, residents of states have no alternative but to follow the law or become lawbreakers.
Legal scholars from Mississippi College to the University of Mississippi have pointed out the proposal by Chism and Smith is futile.
The only thing it will accomplish, if it is pursued, is hold Mississippi up to further ridicule in the national media, including satirical barbs from the late-night comedians. Some Mississippians don’t seem to mind that, but it does nothing to attract business and industry to the state. ...