Friday, August 30, 2013

Supremacy Clause? What Supremacy Clause? We Don't Need No Supremacy Clause.

It's known as the Supremacy Clause.  You'll find it in the Constitution.  Article VI, Paragraph 2.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Among those who are passionately committed to forcing the federal government to adhere to the Constitution, every jot and tittle of it, well, maybe not that part.  Because, you know.

Welcome to the Show Me State where, according to John Schwartz in the Times, they aren't just nibbling around the edges.
Unless a handful of wavering Democrats change their minds, the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature is expected to enact a statute next month nullifying all federal gun laws in the state and making it a crime for federal agents to enforce them here. A Missourian arrested under federal firearm statutes would even be able to sue the arresting officer.
That's different from Colorado and Washington making possession of marijuana legal.  They didn't say that federal drug laws can't be enforced there.  They didn't say that federal agents who try to enforce federal law will be arrested and criminally charged.  They just said that state law will allow possession.  There's a hope that the feds will leave them alone, but they didn't try to require it.  

Because, you know, the Supremacy Clause. 


But in Missouri?  Well, maybe.  The law passed in both houses of the legislature.  The Governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed it.  Because, it was unconstitutional.  You know, the Supremacy Clause.  He laid it out, with full legal analysis. (It's reproduced at the bottom of this post.)  But the bottom line, really, is in the sentences that begin the last 2 paragraphs on page 2.
Of course, an individual state is not empowered to determine which federal laws it will comply with, nor is it empowered to declare a federal act to be unconstitutional. . . .

The doctrine of supremacy is as logically sound as it is legally well-established.
You know, the Supremacy Clause.
 
But the Missouri legislature?  They believe in gun rights and the Constitution.  Except, you know, The Supremacy Clause.  And unless a couple of people switch their votes, they'll be overriding the veto next month.

And then?

A federal court will declare it unconstitutional.  Which it is.  

Regardless of whether you think it's a good idea.

Because, you know, the Supremacy Clause.  Which "We the People of the United States" adopted as part of the founding document.  One of the purposes of which, you may recall was to 
ensure domestic Tranquility.
It's easy to make fun of this sort of thing, but in fact it's dangerous.  If states are free to nullify parts of the Constitution, we stop being a nation and become instead a coalition.  There's no uniformity because there's no federal law.  God knows there are too many, but if they were all optional.

And there's that oath of office thing.  Which brings me, at last, to Jay Barnes.  There are 109 Republicans in the  Missouri State House.  108 of them voted for this bill.  Jay Barnes didn't.

The lone Republican opponent of the bill in the House, State Representative Jay Barnes, said, “Our Constitution is not some cheap Chinese buffet where we get to pick the parts we like and ignore the rest.” He added, “Two centuries of constitutional jurisprudence shows that this bill is plainly unconstitutional, and I’m not going to violate my oath of office.”
Because, you know, the Supremacy Clause.  Which is actually part of the Constitution. 

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