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State Sovereignty Update

February 17th, 2009 · 28 Comments ·

Now that most of the state legislatures are back in session, we’re starting to see some progress on the passage of state sovereignty bills. It looks like at least 22 states have bills in some stage of development. About half are in the process of being drafted, several are in committee or out for debate and the pack is being led by Arizona, Oklahoma and New Hampshire where the bills have strong support and will likely be voted on within a matter of weeks. As yet none have passed into law, but we may see that happen in some of the most active states fairly quickly.

The Arizona bill is interesting because it actually cites New York v. US in the text of the bill, pointing out one of the 10th Amendment cases which is often cited in arguments for state nullification of federal mandates. It seems to have a lot of support and a realistic chance of passage.

Oklahoma’s sovereignty bill which passed their House last session but got stalled in the Senate came out of the rules committee last week with unanimous support and should move forward quickly. It may run into problems in the state Senate again because it is more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans than their House of representatives is.

As demonstrated in the recently introduced Michigan resolution some of the bills target a much more specific threat. Michigan’s bill asserts 10th Amendment rights, but does it in the context of reiterating and guaranteeing protection of the right of the citizens to own firearms, taking a stand against possible gun seizures from the federal government. The Montana resolution was introduced at the same time and is largely the same with the same focus on gun rights.

State Representative Dan Itse, author of the New Hampshire sovereigny resolution appeared on the Glenn Beck show on Fox News over the weekend to explain the bill. Although New Hampshire’s bill is one of the most radical, he stressed that it was not about secession from the union, but about reasserting state control, saying “This isn’t about withdrawing from the union. The happiest resolution of this resolution would be a renewed union within the confines of the Constitution.” But he went on to make the key distinction that the New Hampshire bill actually makes the claim, based on the writings of Jefferson and Madison, that if the government fails to obey the Constitution then it has effectively negated itself and dissolved the union formed by that document. Itse said, “If the general government nullifies the Constitution, how do you withdraw from something which does not exist?”

Oklahoma State Representative Jason Murphey wrote an editorial for the Edmond Sun explaining his state’s sovereignty bill and linking it specifically to the unfunded mandates and massive spending in the so-called Stimulus Bill, linking this issue to the efforts of some governors to block federal spending within their states. He notes that it is “is going to be important for the state to refuse to participate in new inappropriate federal programs such as the apparent expansion of the welfare program included in the stimulus bill.” And also expresses the widespread concern that much of the money in the stimulus is intended to benefit the Democratic party’s political allies, pointing out that “we can expect the federal government to reflect the desires of powerful special interests, liberal politicians and their support groups like ACORN — the possible recipient of $2 billion because of the stimulus bill.”

A lot of crazy claims about the sovereignty movement are still circulating, many of them seemingly generated to advance their own interests by Ron Paul supporters involved in his Campaign for Liberty. But the truth is that, contrary to their assertions, this is not a movement for secession from the union and the sovereignty bills are generally not arising out of grassroots efforts from far-right groups like C4L.

Rather, these resolutions are originating from inside legislatures and from established state politicians, specifically in response to concerns about unfunded mandates and excessive burdens placed on the states by the federal government. The expense and partisan character of many of the elements of the stimulus bill is increasing concern and helping to motivate legislators to pass these state resolutions as are federal efforts to limit the constitutional rights of individuals on a nationwide basis. While the 10th Amendment is central to their argument, legislators are more concerned about retaining power they see being gradually eroded by the federal government than more abstract issues of Constitutional rights.

Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at



28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 State Sovereignty Movement Surges Forward | Liberty Republican Forum // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    […] of these articles a lot of concerned citizens are contacting me from various different states about what their states […]

  • 2 Chuck Beesley // Feb 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Who are the people in Alabama supporting this movement that we can support and work with to gather more steam?


    Chuck Beesley

  • 3 Dave // Feb 28, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I’d suggest checking with the Republican Liberty Caucus of Alabama. The best way to do that might be to join their yahoogroup. I don’t think they have a website yet. Check out


  • 4 Paul // Mar 8, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Remember where the Fed gets its money… the states. All of this worries me, anyone with a brain cell understands at any moment to include strong economic times, democracy hangs on by a thread. Every country fails at sometime or another, and evey civilization has civil war(s) (plural). It would be very dumb for us, US citizens, to ever think we are immune. I understand that their is a larger populace in states like CA and NY, but they are in a weak position with deep deficits. States like TX, that are in GRAND condition compared to CA and NY do have an advantage to flex their muscle if they so choose. If the fed were to make a mistake and push back, that can potentially lead to deep anger with like minded states, and be in itself the motivation that leads a sound separatist movement. The US being in a compromised positon, we already see countries like Russia and China flexing, as can a very strong state in the union. I would advise the Fed govt. to tread wisely, because in my opinion, a state like TX can survive on its own and co-exist with the US as a neighbor in harmony, but if TX goes, it will take about 20 states with her. Twenty states that are not in bad shape, compared to CA and NY, this would bankrupt the US, as she relies on such states tax revenues. Remember, the US is not on the gold standard, and such an event would lower the US’s AAA rating with the world i.e. all countries pulling all their money out over night. Also please understand, because of the difference in political ideology, most of the U.S. nuclear innovations are in republican states because liberal states said no to nukes… and, please correct me if my figure is wrong, but last I checked, 60 percent of the volunteer military in the US are from southern states… that weird southern pride thing leads me to believe that they will not “turn” on their home states, and a huge number of military bases, weapons cache, etc are housed in southern states, oh yea, Fort Knox is in KY too. Last but not least, where are the majority of the US’s oil refined… southern states, and where is the US’s national oil reserve…southern states. Please don’t blast me, and I am sure I misspelled a word or two, I am just looking at this situation objectively, and the way I see it, because of political ideology, the southern states are not in the weak position it was in when it engaged in the civil war, and if the crapp hit the fan, I doubt they will just hand everything I just mentioned over to the US without HUGE concessions. Seeing the US would be broke, the UN may have to step in.

  • 5 Dave // Mar 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Countries cannot pull their money out “overnight” this is a common fallacy. Most of that money is in structured instruments which have a specific maturity date before which you can’t just pull your money out and cash them in.


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