Editorials and Opinion
CARL TOBIAS: Stop delaying, fill federal courts now (Manistee News Advocate [MI], 11/25/16)
By CARL TOBIAS Guest Columnist: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.
Tis the Season for Memphis Politics (Memphis Flyer [TN], 12/17/15)
Jackson Baker: "Ed Stanton III, who is U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. ... is involved in a stealth situation of sorts, too. He was appointed last April by President Obama to be a U.S. District Judge at the urging of 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat, has been backed for the appointment by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, and easily sailed through a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in October. But his final confirmation vote by the full Senate, along with those of many other judicial nominees, has been snarled in a delay that stems from the continuing partisan gridlock in Congress.)"
Huckabee revives Faubus' idea of nullification UPDATE (Arkansas Times, 01/22/15)
Max Brantley: “I wrote yesterday about Mike Huckabee's proposition — channeling ghosts of Faubus, Wallace, Maddox and more — that states could simply refuse to obey a U.S. Supreme Court order overturning bans on same-sex marriage. The Atlantic writes further about the rise in nullification theory among far-right Republicans … Secession, anyone? UPDATE: Even the Washington Post's right-wing columnist Jennifer Rubin is pounding Huckabee on this.”
Editorial: The occupation in Oregon is lawless — and pointless (Washington Post, 01/05/15)
"Meanwhile, we can only hope that the Bundy clan’s actions help discredit the persistent movement challenging federal ownership of land.... The Constitution explicitly allows the federal government to own and manage land; moreover, states such as Nevada explicitly waived any rights over federally owned land when they became states. The arguments otherwise are nothing but self-serving nonsense, and the courts have consistently said so.... Even clear law and precedent did not stop Utah from trying again in 2012, ordering the federal government to turn over virtually all federal land to the state’s control by 2014. The feds rightly ignored the command. But this kind of grandstanding encourages the constitutional mythologies of the Bundys and other anti-government extremists.
The only body that can turn over federal land is Congress, which has set land policy since the country’s founding."
EDITORIAL: Gazette opinion: Americans’ inheritance cannot be given away (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 09/05/14)
"The public lands of the United States belong to every citizen, a fact that has never deterred efforts to convert the public domain to private profit.
The latest iteration of this recurring desire to privatize public land has sprouted under the guise of states’ rights. The Montana Republic Party has joined the campaign to “transfer” federal land to the state. ... But Montana does not own, nor have a legal claim to the federal lands within the state borders any more than Yellowstone County could claim a right to take over the Montana state land within the county borders.
The ownership of federal land in Montana is spelled out in the Enabling Act that created our state, which says Montana “forever disclaims all right and title to the unappropriated public lands within the boundaries thereof. …”
In 1976, Congress passed the Federal Land Policy Management Act, which said public lands should remain in federal ownership unless the disposal is in the national interest.... And make no mistake, their aim is not for states to control the land, but for states to sell or lease public lands to the highest bidders."
EDITORIAL: Foolish gun measures in Kansas, Missouri draw welcome opposition (Kansas City Star, 07/15/14)
"Indeed, courts have consistently ruled that federal law trumps state law. And state laws that attempt to nullify federal laws have been declared unconstitutional. As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a 2012 letter to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, “a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities.”...A federal appeals court last year struck down a similar Montana law. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declined to review the case."
EDITORIAL: Our View: GOP: Go to Moscow, Come Back to Reality (Times-News [ID] , 06/11/14)
"Put plainly, the “establishment vs. tea party” spat is destroying Idaho. That’s the problem with a one-party state. If the dominant party goes off the rails, the entire thing falls down. Idaho’s GOP is too busy arguing about the important stuff, like ... spending mountains of cash on a doomed-but-pandering bid to somehow “take back” federal lands that Idaho never actually owned.... And let’s not forget about the wolves. Showing how much they’re hated, we mean really hated, is worth a heap of money, too. The pesky school children can do more with less."... Enough with the absurd initiatives only designed to make “statements.” Enough with the lunacy."
Chris Rickert: Walker right to risk principle purity in exchange for John Doe compromise (Wisconsin State Journal, 05/31/14)
Column: "Meanwhile, a purist interpretation of states’ rights has of late been responsible for a spate of embarrassing right-wing positions. The resurgence of the court-invalidated theory of nullification — basically, the belief that states have the legal right to ignore federal law — is one. Another is this idea — recently on display at the state Republican convention — that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution allows states to secede from the union."
Journal Times editorial: State GOP right to reject measure on secession (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 05/11/14)
"Similarly, the party members were right to shoot down a resolution that said the Legislature should propose legislation to nullify certain federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act. If the Wisconsin Legislature or governor had the ability to nullify the Affordable Care Act, you can bet it would have been done already. The reality is that in our democracy, municipalities must follow state laws and states must follow federal laws."
Editorial: The neo-Nazi and the Second Amendment Preservation Act (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/21/14)
"First, the law seeks to nullify “all federal acts” related to gun regulation “past, present and future.” Of course, such a move would violate clear rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that say federal laws on such matters supersede state laws because of the Constitution’s “supremacy clause.”...Never mind that this bill, like last year’s, will be vetoed. And never mind that even if lawmakers were to override a veto, that it would be tossed out by a court. It’s important to realize exactly what lawmakers think is a good idea."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Time for Republicans to Get Real (Times-News [ID] , 04/20/14)
"[W]e applaud Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, who last week refused to ink their names to the state Republican platform.... Well, would you sign your name — essentially pledging your support — to a document that calls for the resurrection of the gold standard, stripping voters of the right to elect U.S. senators by repealing the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and spouts outright disdain for the Supremacy Clause?"
Editorial: Rep. Matt Shea should know better than to support lawbreaking Nevada rancher (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 04/18/14)
"Defiant rancher Cliven Bundy’s protest against paying grazing fees has become a cause celebre among people, like Shea, who believe the states can nullify federal laws they believe to be unconstitutional. This doctrine of nullification has been drubbed in the courts....Western ranchers wanted the grazing law, because they were losing their feedlots to overgrazing. With a regulatory scheme in place, vegetation has been reborn and sustained. Grazing fees help manage the land, and ranchers help to conserve it....This land isn’t their land. Public grazing is a privilege, not a right."
EDITORIAL: The Tribune's View: Nullification (Columbia Daily Tribune [MO] , 04/12/14)
"In a less commendable action, the Missouri House on April 3 overwhelmingly approved a bill nullifying federal gun control laws, a foolish unconstitutional bleat against Washington.... Too bad they waste the time and resources of the legislature, but they realize passing a dead-on-arrival law gives them a larger pulpit than standing on the street."
Editorial: Nullification is a futile effort (Springfield News-Leader [MO], 04/09/14)
"The truth is, the Constitution clearly establishes federal law as the “supreme law of the land.” In fact, what is known as the Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause” is found in both Article VI, which states that “ ... the Laws of the United States ... shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby ... ,” and further supported in Article III, which gives final authority on whether laws are constitutional to the U.S. Supreme Court — not the Missouri legislature. The Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that states cannot nullify federal law, starting when the country was just 20 years old and continuing well into the 20th century."
EDITORIAL: A doomed crusade; Missouri lawmakers try to nullify federal gun laws (Register Guard [OR], 04/08/14)
"The nullification movement, which holds that the U.S. Constitution allows states to defy federal power, has been around since the 1800s, when South Carolina lawmakers embraced nullification in an attempt to eliminate federal tariff laws in the antebellum South. During the civil rights era, some Southern states attempted to use a similar argument to resist federal laws prohibiting segregation. Those efforts didn’t hold up under legal scrutiny, and neither will Missouri lawmakers’ latest effort to seek the de jure nullification of federal firearms laws. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently, and rightly, ruled that federal law trumps the laws of the states."
Editorial: Stop efforts to nullify federal ACA (Greenville [SC] News, 03/25/14)
"Wisdom prevailed in the South Carolina Senate last week as senators let a bill die that would have attempted to nullify the federal Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t for a lack of trying to thwart wisdom, however. ... There is no place in our 21st century representative democracy — as divided as the current political environment is — for state lawmakers to nullify a federal law’s power over an individual state."
Editorial: Dredging, nullification have no place in Idaho (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 03/15/14)
"The Idaho Office of Attorney General is apparently going to have to write opinions regarding the futility of state efforts to nullify federal law until its lawyers run out of ink.
Nullification – the assertion that state law can supersede federal – has been around almost since final state ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1790. No one has successfully argued its validity in law or, in the case of the Confederacy, by force of arms. ... Last week, the House Resources Committee passed HB 473, which declares EPA authority “null and void and of no force and effect in this state.” The bill is pure grandstanding. And its motivation, the inability of dredgers to get EPA permits, is unworthy of the gesture. Even small-scale dredging is detrimental to other in-stream water uses.... gold is not worth the destruction of Idaho’s waterways and fisheries....dredging should have no place in Idaho, and neither should silly notions of nullification."
Eagle editorial: Prairie chicken bill goes off deep end (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 02/20/14)
The Kansas "Senate went way off the deep end last week in voting 30-10 to criminalize federal wildlife enforcement in the state relating to lesser prairie chickens and greater prairie chickens.... The bill’s greatest offense may be how it would make it a felony in Kansas for federal wildlife agents or federal contractors’ employees to do their jobs. As Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, argued in vain during the debate (in which the U.S. was characterized as on a fast track to becoming North Korea): “It will lead to expensive litigation and cost our state money while trying to supersede the federal Endangered Species Act.”"
Editorial: Legislative focus; Some of the issues drawing attention in the Kansas Legislature would be better left alone. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 02/16/14)
"Legislators also are considering questionable preemptive legislation that would make it illegal for federal wildlife officials to enforce endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken in the state. The chicken hasn’t even been classified as endangered, but just in case....A Kansas House committee — based on objections that seem more political than scientific — also is taking time to work on a resolution that urges Congress to resist any plan President Obama poses for addressing man-made climate change. Did Congress ask for the state’s opinion?"
EDITORIAL: Denying federal authority costly, inconsistent (Arizona Daily Sun, 02/09/14)
DAILY SUN EDITORIAL BOARD: "the situation has clearly gotten out of hand.... when some of the bills get signed by Brewer, taxpayers get stuck paying for legal defenses against claims of unconstitutionality — almost all of which the state has lost.... it’s difficult not to conclude that Republicans are simply playing obstructionist politics with federal laws and programs they don’t like, including voter registration, health insurance, immigration and wolf reintroduction.... Now, there’s a bill to let ranchers kill an endangered Mexican gray wolf suspected of harming cattle — no questions asked. That’s also outside the Legislature’s purview — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the wolf reintroduction program. (And don’t most Arizona ranchers have at least some of their grazing rights on federal lands?)"
World-Herald editorial: Another bill to nullify (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 02/07/14)
"As part of their oath of office, Nebraska state senators pledge to support the Constitution of the United States. And in Article VI, that document says plainly that “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The U.S. Supreme Court has, over more than two centuries, rejected arguments that states may ignore federal laws and court rulings. Yet in 2014, another bill has been introduced in the Nebraska Legislature declaring that Nebraska shouldn’t follow federal law."
Editorial: Gun control struggle a constitutional one (Paris Post-Intelligencer [TN], 01/13/14)
"Didn’t we fight the Civil War over whether federal law prevails over states’ rights?
Now, conservative lawmakers in several states are attempting to organize defiance of certain federal laws, beginning with gun control....Courts have consistently ruled that states do not have the power to nullify federal laws, but that doesn’t keep the restless from trying."
Editorial: Practicality lacking in nullification plan (Aiken Standard [SC], 11/12/13)
"The proposed bill, on special order in the S.C. Senate, essentially attempts to nullify Obamacare’s implementation in our state .... federal law is still the law of the land....It’s the president’s signature law and has been upheld by the country’s highest court. The likelihood that it will be nullified is slim."
EDITORIAL: Missouri would nullify federal law on guns (Journal Inquirer [CT], 11/09/13)
"The Missouri law is a brazen attempt at “nullification,” asserting a state’s supremacy over the national government. Of course this is the old argument used to defend slavery, then secession, and then segregation in the Old South.... Missouri’s attempt at nullification is an insult to the nation. It should be tested immediately and anyone who tries to use it against federal law should be arrested and tried."
Editorial: Missouri, a state of denial (Los Angeles Times, 09/13/13)
"The notion that states can decide for themselves whether federal laws are unconstitutional — a doctrine known as nullification — is rejected even by many legal scholars who support states' rights. But this week it came within one vote of being adopted by the state Legislature in Missouri ... Like judges, legislators take an oath to uphold the Constitution. They violate that oath when they attempt to nullify duly enacted federal laws."