Monday, January 30, 2023 by JD Heyes
A bill has been reintroduced in the Texas state legislature allowing for the nullification of any federal government law, rule, or regulation that violates the U.S. Constitution, though it’s not at all clear it will pass or that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will sign it.
As reported by The New American, the measure essentially authorizes the Texas government to ignore federal measures and actions that run afoul of the nation’s founding document.
The bill has been introduced in previous legislatures. It is called the Texas Sovereignty Act and is H.B. 384 in the state House and S.B. 313 in the state Senate. The House version is sponsored by Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia), while the Senate version was offered up by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood).
“The bills’ preface clearly and correctly explains the proper constitutional balance of power between the federal government and the states, and it notes Article VI, which requires officials ‘at all levels and in all branches of government to adhere to the Constitution,” the outlet reports.
“This Act calls on all officials in federal, state, and local government, in all branches and at all levels, to honor their oaths to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution and its ratified amendments against any [unconstitutional] federal action,” the measure says of all laws and rules implemented by the federal government that “willfully” violate the Constitution.
The New American adds:
If passed, the Texas Sovereignty Act would create a Joint Legislative Committee on Constitutional Enforcement, which would “review federal actions that challenge the sovereignty of the state and of the people for the purpose of determining if the federal action is unconstitutional.” The bill defines “federal actions” as including federal laws, executive orders, executive-branch regulations, federal-court rulings, and treaties.
The bill also establishes certain criteria so that officials can determine if a federal action is unconstitutional. This includes “consider[ing] the plain reading and reasoning of the text of the United States Constitution and the understood definitions at the time of [its] framing and construction.” Also, the panel would be required to study statements made by the founders during the 1st Congress as well as statements from attendees to the 1787 constitutional convention, among other sources, to determine the original intent behind the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments.
If the panel decides that the federal action is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, then the Texas Legislature must vote on whether or not to accept the committee’s determination. Should majorities in both chambers of the legislature accept the findings, and the governor subsequently approves, the federal action would formally be declared unconstitutional and thus would become legally null and void in the Lone Star State. At that point, it would also become illegal for the federal action to be enforced within the state’s boundaries.
“The Texas Sovereignty Act does not end there. The bill would require state courts — rather than relying on case law — to ‘rely on the plain meaning of’ the U.S. Constitution ‘and any applicable constitutional doctrine as understood by’ the founding fathers when hearing cases challenging the constitutionality of federal laws,” the outlet reports.
The measure is actually grounded in the U.S. Constitution, and in particular, Article VI, which says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” In addition, the article determines that state legislatures, Executive Branch officials, and judges “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.” Therefore, they cannot pass, issue, or enforce a ruling on any federal law or order that violates the Constitution.
We’ll see if this passes or not, but there is precedent for nullifying federal laws. Blue states, for instance, have defied federal immigration laws for decades and, more recently, passed laws legalizing recreational uses for marijuana despite it being against federal law.
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