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States’ rights pushed in bill that would ‘assert the sovereignty of the state’

January 27, 2013
Jerry Mitchell
Source …..

MississippiFlagMore than a half century ago, Mississippi created a state Sovereignty Commission to block enforcement of federal laws.

Now two key state lawmakers are introducing legislation to attempt to do much the same thing. House Bill 490 would create a committee to help neutralize federal laws and regulations “outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution.”

Robert McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, said all this bill will accomplish is to put Mississippi up for ridicule. “ ‘The Neutralization of Federal Law’?” he said. “I am astounded to see such a measure introduced in the 21st century. Do the authors of the bill see Mississippi as part of the United States?”

He pointed out that the issue of state sovereignty “was settled by a terrible war 150 years ago as well as by numerous Supreme Court decisions.”

House Insurance Committee Chairman Gary Chism, R-Columbus, principal author of the bill with Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said the legislation is meant to enforce the 10th Amendment, which says powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people.

Talk of opposing federal law started with federal health care reform and has since been fueled by the push to change federal gun laws, he said. “It’s too much intrusion. You’re bleeding into our constitutional rights.”

He rejected comparisons to the Sovereignty Commission, which became a segregationist spy agency. “We abide by all the Constitution,” he said. “The 13th and 14th Amendments (abolishing slavery and giving freed slaves citizenship) — we honor those, too. It has nothing to do with black and white.”

The bill accuses the federal government of seizing power: “We reject and deny this unauthorized and excessive abuse of power, which has primarily acted as a detriment to states’ rights and individual rights.”

The proposed Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Law would review existing federal laws and executive orders and recommend those to be “neutralized.” If the majority of lawmakers back the recommendation, Mississippi “and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.”

George Cochran, professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, said it’s obvious the bill is unconstitutional.

He pointed to Article VI of the Constitution, which says the Constitution, the U.S. laws and treaties “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.”

States trying to block federal laws is nothing new, dating to the late 1700s when the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures unsuccessfully challenged the federal Alien and Sedition Acts.

Throughout the years, states have made arguments for “nullification,” “interposition” and now “neutralization” aimed at blocking federal law, McElvaine said.

“It all boils down to the same completely discredited argument,” he said. “When John C. Calhoun and South Carolina attempted to nullify federal law in the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson forcefully rejected the concept.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 ordered the desegregation of public schools, “the Mississippi Legislature kept passing horrible bills, condemning the federal government,” recalled veteran journalist Bill Minor. “There was even a bill to arrest any federal officer who tried to serve an arrest on any official of Mississippi who refused to carry out anti-segregation laws.”

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Laws would be made up of the lieutenant governor, six lawmakers appointed by him, the speaker of the House and six lawmakers appointed by him.

The Sovereignty Commission was made up of the governor, three citizens appointed by him, the lieutenant governor, two lawmakers appointed by him, the speaker of the House, three lawmakers appointed by him and the attorney general. (The state Supreme Court has ruled that those in the executive branch are barred from serving on legislative committees.)

Lawmakers created the commission in 1956, giving it broad law enforcement and judicial powers to “perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the State of Mississippi, and her sister states, from encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch.”

The commission became a spy and propaganda agency aimed at preserving segregation, collecting spy files on more than 10,000 people, including Elvis Presley.

“The main issues for which ‘states’ rights’ have been used, such as slavery and segregation,” McElvaine said, “should be more accurately termed ‘states’ wrongs.’ ”

Laura Hipp, director of communications for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, said he has been reviewing and referring the nearly 1,000 Senate bills “on subjects important to move our state forward like education reform and improving the state’s businesses climate and has not had the opportunity to see any House legislation.”

Civil rights veteran Leslie Burl McLemore said the bill strikes him as “grandstanding.”

Director of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University, McLemore said, “In subtle and not so subtle ways in Mississippi — and a good bit of the South — we fight the Civil War every day. The drum-beating, rabid right-wingers long for those years, but we won’t revisit those years any time soon.”

He said it seems as if some lawmakers “have not really read the history of Mississippi, which I think is unfortunate.”

He predicted the state would continue to evolve, resulting in a better understanding between the people and those who govern them. “Mississippi,” he said, “is a unique and incredible place.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2013 1:17 am

    Historian Alexis de Tocqueville in his book on the American democracy rightly suggested that real democracy as the Founder planned would survive only as long as we could keep the Nation small enough where people could be governed peacefully.
    At some point it was suggested the USA could demonstrate how democracy could be an example for the UN. All People peacefully living together. So I often wonder and research what went wrong. What I see is a total ignorance of the personality and character that prompted the first American. A union of kindred souls who had discovered the principle of how Human can live peacefully together in their diversities. I made this study part of my M.A, and Phd. dissertation. I found that most of all authority cannot and should not FORCE people to embrace people with different values, only to respect their right to those values. The American character likes the traditional family, a house with yard and
    picket fence. Why the fence? To keep out strangers, unlike other nations they are not inclined to say “my house is your house” to strangers. American could have been called Introverted.
    Commercialism broke that tradition to be replaced by an extroversion gone crazy. Who started this? Our open border to all new comers. My research demonstrated that such experiment must choose carefully who they wish to share with in regional alliances.. We were not given that choice, but it was forced upon us as globalism. Originally, integration and absorption was allowed to develop voluntarily and it did , people tested pizza and liked it, same with Jewish bagels and cream cheese, Chinese food in the city became as famous as apple pie. But it was all done slowly and voluntarily. In the South of the USA people were friendly BUT, it was also the less diverse part of the USA.. The West, especially California e was considered distant and unfriendly, people were more private and they liked it that way and still do, even so it is the most diverse and integrated place. What went wrong what prompted us to put on emotional barricades—too much immigration, too many people of different culture coming in certain areas at once, taking over the neighbourhood and setting up their own barricades. 400,000 Vietnamese, millions Latinos and Asians. America no longer looks like the America the founders offered. Order is breaking down with people that do not know or care about the LAWS that made this Nation what is was.TIME TO TELL CONGRESS THEY HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO GIVE AWAY THIS NATION, TIME TO PUT UP THE BARRICADES UNTIL THE STRANGERS AMONG US LEARN AMERICAN VALUES AND TRADITIONS. We now also face a scarcity of resources and we cannot be so
    generous to people who see OUR AMERICA only as a place to make money, it is more than that to us, we also had dreams based on the promises of our Founders, basic American Values that are not shared by strangers. Our HEART belongs to America, not to foreign nations left behind by many who carry or expect American Citizenship or serve in our Congress.


  1. Mississippi wants power to negate federal laws. Ummm… | Outspoken

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