Until recently, state and local government interaction with the federal government seemed to consist mostly of local and state officials asking D.C. for more money. As a result, many states, counties and cities have ended up on their backs, hog-tied by federal mandates. What James Madison called our "compound republic" cannot stand unless state and local governments recognize their obligation to join with the people in resisting federal overreach.
Fortunately, several bills before the Arizona Legislature would let local officials stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Arizonans in fending off expanded federal regulations. For example, SCR1050, the "Freedom to Breathe Amendment," seeks to amend the state constitution to resist federal regulation of harmless carbon dioxide emissions.
Senate Bill 1098 and House Bill 2307 would authorize in-state firearms manufacturing and sales under state regulations that are far less burdensome than federal rules. HB 2337 challenges the federal government's effort to ban the in-state manufacturing of incandescent light bulbs. And SB 1398 would mandate that counties, cities and towns use their existing rights under federal law to require federal agencies to reduce the burden of any new regulation.
During the November general election, Arizona voters will consider two other measures already referred to the ballot by the Legislature: the Health Care Freedom Act and Save Our Secret Ballot, which respectively can protect the right of Arizonans to make their own health care decisions and guarantee Arizonans the right to a secret ballot vote during union-organizing elections.
Arizona is brimming with ideas that could make it routine and mandatory for state and local public officials to challenge unconstitutional federal government encroachment at every turn.
Far from an exercise in futility, such legislation reflects the public's desire to preserve the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers between the state and federal governments. Consistent resistance to unconstitutional federal action cannot help but chasten federal officials who might otherwise regulate without restraint.
(Editor’s Note: Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute)