Late last week, the Arizona Senate passed Senate Bill 1178 (SB1178), the Intrastate Commerce Act. The bill provides that all services performed in the state, and all goods grown or made here for consumption within Arizona “are not subject to the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the several states.”
The vote was 21-8-1
State Senator Sylvia Allen said that includes everything from wheat and lettuce to toilets, light bulbs and guns, even if manufactured, sold and used entirely within Arizona.
For decades, using a tortured definition of “interstate commerce,” Congress has claimed the authority to regulate, control, ban, or mandate virtually everything – from wheat grown on one’s own land for personal consumption, to weed grown in an individual’s own home for the same purpose, to guns manufactured, sold and kept in state boundaries, and everything in between. And, unfortunately, the Supreme Court has largely condoned and even encouraged such reprehensible legislative behavior.
But today, Arizona is once again leading the way in saying “Back Off” to the feds – by standing up for the Constitution as the founders gave it to us.
THE COMMERCE CLAUSE
If, like any legal document, the words of the Constitution (and its amendments, too) mean today just what they meant when it was approved by the ratifiers, then we must understand the original meaning of words in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution – the “Interstate Commerce Clause.” It delegates to Congress the power to:
“regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
According to Constitutional scholar Randy Barnett, the original meaning of “commerce” was limited to the “trade and exchange” of goods and transportation for this purpose. The original meaning of “to regulate” generally meant “to make regular” -that is, to specify how an activity may be transacted-when applied to domestic commerce, but when applied to foreign trade also included the power to make “prohibitory regulations.” “Among the several States” meant between persons of one state and another.
According to Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson, the commerce clause gave Congress power to regulate interstate commerce — not any “matters that have significant spillover effects across state lines.” The Constitutional Convention rejected the wording of the Virginia Plan, which arguably would have let the Federal government regulate any activity with interstate spillover. In other words, the Founders made the deliberate decision to leave many activities with spillover effects to the states.
Not included in this power to regulate commerce “across state lines” is the authority to regulate activites that are non-economic or solely INTRAstate, which the language of Virginia’s Instrastate Commerce Act addresses.
Included in the bill’s language are penalties for federal agents violating the state law – in James Madison’s words, interposition, or “standing between” the federal government and the people of the state.
The bill states that any federal agent or employee who attempts to enforce any federal act, rule or regulation over these activities is guilty of a Class 6 felony. While the measure does not seek jail time, it allows fines of up to $2,000. And any state official that tries to enforce a federal law could face a $500 fine.
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, who crafted most of the proposals, said it’s time Arizona stood up to the federal government. And she said if arresting some federal officials is what it takes, she’s prepared to do that.
“If we don’t show that we’re serious about this, then how is the federal government going to respect us?” Allen continued. “Instead, they come into our state and they fine us … and fine our businesses and our farmers.”
With the passage of a bill like SB1178, Arizona could become the first state to reject in one fell swoop the ludicrous and intellectually dishonest constitutional rationale that underpins so much federal activity, and reclaim the rightful authority to regulate commerce within its own borders.
CLICK HERE – for the Tenth Amendment Center’s Intrastate Commerce Act Legislative Tracking page
CLICK HERE – for the Tenth Amendment Center’s model legislation, the Intrastate Commerce Act. We encourage you to send it to your state reps and senators and urge them to introduce and support this bill.