I remember reading Jed's story on the Arizona State Senate going tenther this morning, and sighing heavily while facepalming. Then when I went to the Mississippi State Capitol today and had a look at Senate Bill 2224, I facepalmed even harder.
This looks like a widespread, meticulously organized teapublican effort to encourage secession without using the dreaded S-word.
More below the fold.
It seems Mississippi State Senator Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) is out to prove an election year point by appealing to the most extreme fringe of the far right time and again.
Since the start of the 2011 session, the chairman of Mississippi's Senate Judiciary A Committee has brought forth several tea-soaked bills that reek of partisan pandering and paranoia contrived by right-wing media. Some of the more egregious ones include SB 2179, which essentially replicates Arizona's SB 1070 in the state of Mississippi. Another dubiously xenophobic race-baiting measure authored by Fillingane includes SB 2255, which forces providers of international monetary wire transfers to levy a tax that goes toward financing the construction of a border wall on the U.S./Mexico line, instead of, say, the drastically underfunded Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Not to leave out a tip of the hat to the Evangelical Right, Fillingane attempts to reinforce the patently false narrative of Christian oppression in public schools with SB 2101, the so-called "Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act of 2011." Even though children are free to pray in public schools whenever they please, this bill subtly implies that the civil liberties of students in a overwhelmingly Christian state are somehow under attack and need protection.
These bills are all blatantly partisan in their own right. But the icing on Fillingane's anti-American tea cake is SB 2224, a bold appeal to the "Tenther" vote. If passed, this legislation would effectively create a six-member House and Senate panel, called the "Restoring the Tenth Amendment Committee," with the explicit job of pointing out any federal law or "unfunded mandate" they deem to be "unconstitutional." Fillingane makes no bones about which "unconstitutional" laws his proposed committee would focus on:
"This definition shall specifically include legislation relating to health care, financial reform, and gun control, or any other legislation not provided for or sanctioned by the Constitution of Mississippi or the Constitution of the United States." (diarist emphasis in bold)
I'm sure Senator Fillingane obviously wouldn't use the term "secession," but states choosing to ignore the law of the U.S. government carries out the same intent as seceding. Besides, the mere attempt to dismiss existing federal law is unconstitutional, so says the Supremacy Clause in Article 6, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made...shall be the supreme law of the land."
The U.S. Constitution refutes the Tenthers yet again in the Privileges and Immunities clause in the 14th Amendment.
"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
I'm sure Jed Lewison and readers of his piece yesterday would agree with me that Senator Fillingane's rejection of the supreme law of the land is also his rejection of the U.S. Constitution, pure and simple.
Perhaps his actions this session are simply the result of pressure from dedicated right-wing activists in his constituency and his attempt to meet their demands. Although in a statewide election year, perhaps Senator Fillingane's desperate attempts to appeal to the far right are instead based out of fear of losing his senate seat this fall to a primary challenger, who might choose to acknowledge that the freshman senator is a 39-year-old public official without a wife or children, living in a district full of traditional Christian conservatives.
Progressives be warned; the tea virus is seeping into the halls of statehouses all over the country. Americans thirsty for real solutions to hemorraghing jobs, rapacious income inequality, declining public health and lackluster public education should focus on electing leaders that act in the interests of working families, not the interests of Fox News viewers.
We can start by showing up to the statehouse and encouraging our representatives and senators to govern with their minds and hearts, not their teacups.