The Mississippi state house is currently debating a bill called the "Mississippi Balance of Powers Act" that, if passed, would give the state legislature the power to nullify any federal law or executive order that the it deems to be unconstitutional.
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.”Adam Blomeke first told me about this via an IM. I thought this was snark--but it's not. Read the full text here. The committee would be chaired by the lieutenant governor and state house speaker, and include six state representatives and six state senators. It would flag any law or order that it considers unconstitutional, and if a simple majority of both houses votes to "nullify" it, then Mississippi will not consider itself bound to obey it.
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.”
At least two constitutional scholars say this bill is blatantly unconstitutional.
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?”The bill has also drawn comparisons to the "State Sovereignty Commission," created in the 1950s to fight integration.
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.”
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.”
Governor Phil Bryant has yet to weigh in on this bill, and neither have any of the state's federal lawmakers. Still, the fact this thing is even getting the light of day is an absolute disgrace.