Following is Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen’s response to Gov. Jan Brewers veto of SB1182, which would have prohibited state cooperation with NDAA detention.
Earlier this week I received news that the Governor vetoed my bill, SB1182 (called the “2012 NDAA act; governmental compliance”).
I was very disappointed in her veto and her explanation: “While I unequivocally support the due process rights of all United States citizens, I cannot support legislation that forces law enforcement – under the threat of criminal penalty – to choose between upholding the constitution and laws of the United States and abiding by the laws of Arizona.”
First, the governor shows more concern for a non-existent dilemma of law enforcement officers than for the Constitutional rights of Arizona citizens, which are negated and taken away by NDAA under the color of federal authority.
Second, she contradicts herself. She says that law enforcement would have to choose between upholding the Constitution and the laws of the United States, OR upholding the laws of Arizona. Excuse me, but SB1182 was all about upholding the Constitution. Signing SB1182 would have been an act in favor of upholding the Constitution. Vetoing it says that our law enforcement officers don’t have to uphold the Constitution – they can just go right ahead and enforce the National Defense Authorization Act, which deprives citizens of their Constitutional rights.
Law enforcement officers and our governor all took an oath to uphold the Constitution. When Congress comes along with an unconstitutional act like the NDAA that overlooks due process protections, for example, then our state elected officials should honor their oath and say no, thank you, to the federal government.
A Little History
Prior to the creation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the states were separate countries, sovereign political bodies with no superior authority. Through discussions and ratifying conventions, over a span of years, the colonies independently made the decision to join together in a “more perfect Union.” These state decisions were voluntary, and their individual state sovereignty was still recognized, with federal supremacy limited to the specific, enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. The ninth and tenth amendments make it very clear that all other rights and powers are reserved to the states, which retain their sovereignty and the people their rights.
Over the years, the courts, Congress, and the states have ceded more and more authority to the federal government. We have seen a steady and severe erosion of the states’ sovereign powers. Thomas Jefferson warned of this, “When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
In our early history, the states stood against overreach of the federal government. In 1809, for example, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, convened a special session of his state’s legislature to deal with an unconstitutional federal embargo. Governor Trumbull said:
“Despairing of substantial relief from any other quarter, the people are now looking with anxious solicitude and hope, to the wisdom and direction of the Legislature (state) and seem confident that some mode may be devised to remove the pressure under which they are at present suffering …. Whenever our national legislature is led to overleap the prescribed bounds of their Constitutional powers, [then] on the State Legislatures, in great emergencies, devolves the arduous task – it is their right – it becomes their duty, to interpose their protecting shield between the right and liberty of the people, and the assumed power of the General Government.”
In 1854, when the federal government tried to force Wisconsin (a slave-free state), under federal law, to return a runaway slave to his owner, Wisconsin heroically refused. Justice Smith of the Wisconsin Supreme Court said:
“But the real danger to the union consists, not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the constitution. It is much safer to resist unauthorized and unconstitutional power, at its very commencement, when it can be done by constitutional means, than to wait until the evil is so deeply and firmly rooted that the only remedy is revolution.”
Sadly, over the years, the various states in this Union have slowly given up their sovereignty. Governor Brewer’s veto of SB1182 verifies that this state is willing to do the same. Danger to our Union comes from our lack of understanding of our Founding documents, the appropriate relationship of the states to the federal government, and from states’ unwillingness and lack of courage in standing up to federal aggression.