State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing

You may not have heard much about it, but there’s a quiet movement afoot to reassert state sovereignty and stop the uncontrolled expansion of federal government power. Almost half of the state legislatures are considering or have representatives preparing to introduce resolutions which reassert the principles of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution and the idea that federal power is strictly limited to specific areas detailed in the Constitution and that all other governmental authority rests with the states.

In the version of this bill being considered in Washington state, they appeal to the authority of James Madison in The Federalist who wrote:

“”The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”

The founding fathers believed in a balance between state and federal power. This state sovereignty movement clearly arises from the belief that the balance of power has tilted too far and for too long in the direction of the federal government and that it’s time to restore that lose balance.

The emergence of this movement is a hopeful sign of the people asserting their rights and the rights of the states and finally crying “enough” to runaway government. With the threat of increasingly out of control federal spending, some of these sovereignty bills may stand a fair chance of passage in the coming year.

There’s a lot of excitement about these bills, but there are also a lot of misconceptions, with people claiming that some states have already declared sovereignty and that the movement is much farther along than it really is. Contrary to popular rumor, none of the states has actually enacted a sovereignty law yet. Some have come close. Oklahoma’s bill passed their lower house overwhelmingly but stalled in the Senate last fall and is being held over for consideration in the new year.

Contrary to the fantasies of some extremists, these sovereignty bills are not the first step towards secession or splitting up the union, nor are they an effort to block collection of the income tax, appealing though that might be. For the most part, they are not so much political statements of independence as they are expressions of fiscal authority directed specifically at the growing cost of unfunded mandates being placed upon the states by the federal government. Despite the movement picking up steam as he came to office, the target of these bills is not President Obama, but rather the Democrat-dominated Congress whose plans for massive bailouts and expanded social programs are likely to come at an enormous cost to the states.

It has become increasingly common for Congress to pass legislation which dictates policy to the states, but which comes without adequate federal funding and the expectation that the cost of these programs, which the states had no real say in approving, will come out of state budgets. This has been a long-term problem with Medicaid and Medicare, but the unfunded mandate which stirred up the most ire recently was the No Child Left Behind program. More concern has been raised with the recent reauthorization and expansion of the SCHIP program which has a history of requiring more expenditure than is provided for in the federal budget.

The text of the bill proposed in Arizona makes the clearest statement of the intent to block unfunded mandates:

“That this Resolution serves as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.”


“That all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

What this movement is most similar to is the Nullification Crisis of 1832 where the State of South Carolina asserted that it had the right to nullify the authority of federal laws within its borders. In this case the states are not asserting anything as broad as the Doctrine of Nullification, but are merely reasserting the limits which the 10th Amendment places on federal authority, specifically as it applies to spending, the idea being that they don’t have to pay for federal mandates if their legislators choose not to.

Not all of the bills fall within these limitations. Missouri’s bill actually goes somewhat further and does assert the right fo the state to negate federal law, specifically in reference to the proposed federal Freedom of Choice Act, which some fear would bar states from passing laws regulating abortion. New Hampshire’s bill actually goes so far as to lay out a very strongly worded variant of the Doctrine of Nullifcation which specifies acts by the federal government (many of them currently being proposed in Congress) which would effectively negate the Constitution and the authority of the federal government within their state. Hawaii’s proposed sovereignty bill comes very close to being an actual act of secession, based on native tribal rights.

As things stand right now it looks like Oklahoma, Washington, Hawaii, Missouri, Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, California, Michigan and Montana will all definitely consider sovereignty bills this year. They may be joined by Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania where legislators have pledged to introduce similar bills. Twenty states standing up to the federal government and demanding a return to constitutional principles is a great start, but it remains to be seen whether legislatures and governors are brave enough or angry enough to follow through. As the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress push for more expansion of federal power and spending that may help provide the motivation needed for the sovereignty movement to take off.


About Dave 536 Articles
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


  1. After reading the above comments, there is a lot of truth to those comments. State soverieghty is the way to do the job. Protect your home land and family. Tyrannt government stay out of Wyoming, you are trouble . The 1st and 2nd amend needs to be protected from tyranny such as Obama and his slobs. The 2nd amend is now incorporated to the 14th ament as of April 20,09

  2. I am from Oklahoma and have been watching the news about this. It won’t be long and maybe AZ will be right before them or maybe after, but this is something that needs to be done. The State Soverieghty is the only way to get the job done. How else can we protect our families!
    The Federal Government is just out to tax us all to death. Tax us to the hilt. I am ready for the STATE TO TAKE OVER and boot the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

  3. There is a large movement in the State of Nevada that is quietly growing that would support the Sovereignty of the state over the Federal. Now some law makers are going to introduce a bill that would change the state constitution that would say the federal goverment will have the right by armed forces if nessasary to keep Nevada in the Union. Very interesting that the law makers want to use force in there own state to suppress the will of the people.

  4. Years ago there was such a movement as this. There was even a States Rights Political Party which offered up the Honorable John Sparkman of Alabama as its presidential candidate.

    Had the rest of the nation paid attention then we would not be in the mess we are now.

    I am afraid we are now too far down the big federal government/socialistic trail to reverse the process. I pray daily that I am wrong

  5. I just read about a proposed sovereignty amendment to the Ohio Constitution. The link is: . According to the article, State Resolutions have no force of law, but an amendment does. The resolutions are well-meaning, but aren’t worth that much if the federal government is able to override them.

    I am not a lawyer, but it seems to be that amendments are a better way to go than are resolutions.

  6. Wazzup! I’ve hung around watching and reading for ages here.

    Umm so like does anyone know how to unblock bebo from school?

  7. After reading some of the above comments, there is a lot of truth in them. The way to do the job is State soveriegnty . Protect everything-your home, land and family. I’m all for it.

  8. Fatal flaw of State sovereignty movement is that they must submit to the final decision made by a governing branch of Washington,D.C. Namely the U.S. Supreme Court. With everyone viewed thru the lens of law and court as being a 14th Ammendment person, its akin to taking silent judicial notice that every U.S. citizen is a citizen of District of Columbia[a.k.a. United States] and citizen of D.C. in whatever State one resides. In other words, we are all federal citizens ,extensions of Washington D.C. All govt. documentation,be it local,County,State or D.C.,they are all 14th Ammendment recognition documents. Since the Great Depression everyone has been, unknowingly, taught and led to self contract out of the position of law and authority the Founding Fathers occupied. Founders never existed under the 14th Ammendment. They were county Citizen,state Citizen, American Citizen, but never a County resident,State resident, U.S. citizen. Hooven & Allison v. Evatt evidences two United States operating in law simultaneously. Plethora of Supreme Court case law further identify D.C. as being a foreign nation in respect to the States. Key point of relevence: we all exist within the body of Washington,D.C. as legal fictions of law having a commercial character regulated in commerce. Social Security #, purposeful availments[benefits,privileges[ U.S. citizenship is revocable privilege],use of federal reserve notes & negotiable instruments, govt. programs are all a commercial nexus which D.C. asserts sovereignty over by Commerce Clause,U.S. Constitution. All 14th Ammend. persons are paper documents regulated in Commerce. Their are no dejure,bonafide “People” for govt. to serve. Remnant party to original contract between govt. and people is govt. Between States and foreign nation D.C. all persons are in/under D.C. The States are abandoned in terms of ” original ” citizenship. Figuratively speaking, its like D.C. claiming the abandoned power of People that predates the 14th Ammendment thus making full power of People inhere within D.C. contractually as evidenced by everyone’s voluntary consent and participation. Its what made America into Democracy being that the Republic is abandoned. Collective State power is effeminant to the power of D.C. What rebuts such court presumptive recognition[ Doctrine of Recognition] are American born exiting the 14th Ammendment by perfecting themselves in regard to 10th Ammendment standing. This repopulates the abandoned republican form of govt. that was guaranteed . There is no power of People under the 14th Ammendment. Original powers are antecedent to D.C. creation. Were State actions empowered by 10th Ammendment standing class of People,weight of power would favor the States. Dependency upon federal funding is the States achilles heel. Were People to step out of the 14th Ammendment to reactivate 10th Ammendment rights, they could reserve the right to vote on every given subject matter thus making public notice/recordation of what with specificity and particularity is the will of the people. Such public record process directly compels specific performance to obey relative to how Representatives are to vote. The bonds which underlay their oaths and affirmations can directly be attacked by charging affidavits rendering them unbondable and disqualified from further public office. Can’t be done? No problem. All 10th Ammendment standing People called forth in each county to put aforesaid new right to vote. Notice in county paper held sufficient for govt., such is process to emulate. All it takes is minimum of one dejure,bonafide, 10th Ammendment standing Citizen in each county,every state, to vote new right creation. Then record one’s vote in public record to be followed by notice of new rights reserved and outcome of votes. Its a People process outside the scope and purview of govt. authority and jurisdiction. This evidences collective will of people. First vote to record is to sponsor everyone still under the 14th Ammendment into automatic 10th Ammendment recognition. This makes everyone equal and empowered with right to directly participate in future voting process where Representatives can finally know what is the true will of the people. This countervails political pandering and catering to special interests and diminishes clout or pressure from foreign lobbyists. Its about People check & Ballance power over all American govt.,as opposed to the democracy scheme limiting rights and constraining 10th Ammendment power recognition. Being that courts bless people with the right to change their govt., perhaps its time to consider becoming one of the People they’ll recognize . What leads to idiot wars is trying to change the system from within,being that the power of People is outside.

  9. I feel as though I am witnessing the downfall of my country as I watch the Tea Party (Secessionists) destroy what is left of the rule of law. We get a black President and the gates of racism open up and flood our nation with bigotry. Make no mistake. The Tea Party’s (Secessionists) wrath extends to anyone with brown skin whether they are citizens or not. In mass, the Tea Party (Secessionists) got away with racism regarding our President and flush with their success, they now turn their hate toward brown people, citizen or not.

    The rule of law includes the “Equal Protection Clause” of our Constitution. Its protection extends to all citizens of our nation. Our Constitution also has the “Supremacy Clause” regarding Federal Jurisdiction and the 10th Amendment. In other words, the 10th Amendment does not have validity. The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to all who are born in the United States. It is the law, like it or not. You cannot just wave a wand and nullify that part of our Constitution. The 4th Amendment protects all citizens from illegal search and seizure. A civil liberty Bush Jr. forgot and the Tea Party (Secessionists) people supported.

    According to the Tea Party (Secessionists), if Citizen’s Civil Liberty’s are violated, that’s alright. Implementing Arizona’s new immigration law opens the door to the destruction of all our Civil Liberty’s. It is the wholesale abandonment of the rule of law by the Tea Party (Secessionists) which guarantees the downfall of America. Yes, immigration reform must take place. However, it must take place within the scope of our Constitution. Anything less will destroy our nation.

    It is amusing to hear Tea Party (Secessionists) types complain about people being in this country illegally, then propose solutions destroying the rule of law. What is wrong with this picture? The rise of a large segment of our society, filled with hate, bigotry and racism, willing to disregard our Constitution, abandon all that has made this country great throughout our history and willing to abandon the rule of law, is what will destroy America, from within.

    Threats against our President, threats against the Federal Government, threats to use guns if the Tea Party (Secessionists) does not get its way, threats against our Constitution. These are the true threats to America. This activity, practiced by the Tea Party (Secessionists), represents the greatest damage to our beloved country. Only the clear and present danger from within our borders, by the Tea Party (Secessionists), can destroy our nation.

    The Tea Party (Secessionists) is well on it’s way to abandoning the American people for their own selfish purposes and for their notions of superiority over others. I am watching the destruction of my nation unfold before my eyes. Let’s hope some grey haired, pot bellied, ex-hippie, practicing tongue speaking and masturbating over pictures of dead people, doesn’t find out where I live and try to kill me.

    The Tea Party (Secessionists) movement is getting out of control. New sedition laws need to be passed. Encouraging insurrection should be against the law. Elected officials should be thrown out of office if they engage or encourage insurrection using the 14th Amendment, paragraph (3).

    Yes, America can use some corrections. However, these adjustments must be done as one nation under God and within the framework of our Constitution. Anyone speaking of secession is an enemy of the state. Any State seceding from the United States will destroy our great country. Do not wave the American Flag proclaiming your patriotism and then promote secession. You are at best a traitor. The Southern States once dreamed of destroying the United States and good men and women from across this land rose up and engaged in “The War To Save The Union”. I for one, would wear Union Blue in a new endeavor to save our Union once again.

  10. I find your logic a bit flawed. Maybe you’ve been away from the real world too long. Maybe the Country need s the threat of an internal revolution, to get the idiots in the Gov’t to actually earn these horrid sums of money they are paid.
    Or by chance do you feel we should open or boarders to any and all, give them what we dont give our own citizens ? I believe that they are called “ILLEGAL ALIENS ” for a reason. Throw them out…..they dont have to go home, but they can’t stay here.
    France will take them


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  20. I just want to say that I am a scholar mostly, and as important I believe my opinions are to me, I disagree with anyone that would use harm or take another’s rights in order to pass their agenda. that being said, I am very concerned with politics in general, these past ten years have changed our nation fundamentally, now you cannot hide your past from doctors, if you owe any money to the government at all they can take it out of your accounts at will without a court order. the over stepping of our government is exactly the problem with our country today. I remember when police were polite and caring, now they scare most people. And this drug war, I mean you guys own every aspect of it from protecting the crops to running the rehabs. The prison industrial complex may create a lot of jobs but we incarcerate much more than the rest of the world. I think it time to change and give our people more rights as far as what they want to put in their bodies. Before we had a constitution or a bill of rights we had sovereignty. And to act like that is such an evil thing proves my point.

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4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. States to feds: Stay in D.C.! – Lawmakers in 20 states move to reclaim sovereignty « Locust blog
  2. The 28th Amendment, the Ruling Class, and Patrick Henry
  3. Lawmakers In 20 States Move To Reclaim Sovereignty « Political Vel Craft
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