Prompted by citizens concerned over one of the federal government’s latest oversteps, the county commissioners in Elk County, Pennsylvania voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing sections of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.
Shortly after the president signed the act into law, members of the local Tea Party addressed the county commissioners in a January 17th meeting, calling for the adoption of a resolution on behalf of the county’s residents. Blaise Dornisch, a member of the Elk County Tea Party, brought to the attention of the board sections of the act which expand the executive’s power to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. The board promised to consider the issue and the meeting was closed.
At the following meeting, Resolution No. 2012-03 was unanimously adopted by the bi-partisan commission. Titled “To Preserve Habeas Corpus And Civil Liberties,” the resolution invokes both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions to defend the rights of county residents. The commissioners found that Sections 1021 and 1022 “jeopardize the fundamental rights of American citizens to remain free from detention without due process and the right to habeas corpus….” They further declare that such an act is “in direct contravention of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions.”
On its own, this resolution from a small county in Pennsylvania holds little weight. However, the county Sheriff’s department is in agreement, and has promised to support the resolution and “protect the constitutional rights of all citizens.”
This is perhaps the biggest part of the story - a county Sheriff has all but pledged to interpose on behalf of the citizenry. That a local governmental body has chosen to decide the constitutionality of a federal law is no small matter either. This is precisely the spirit of nullification: state and local organizations are refusing to wait on a (historically subservient) judiciary to rubber stamp laws which violate the rights of individuals.
Elk County is the 11th local government to have passed such legislation. Eleven states are considering similar resolutions and laws as well.
Track the progress of all the NDAA nullification campaigns nationwide, click HERE.
For sample NDAA nullification legislation, the Liberty Preservation Act, click HERE.