Nullification, as an idea, is simple.
Legislation, as a process, is not.
And when it comes to the egregious violations of the Constitution claimed as federal powers to indefinitely detain anyone without due process, the mode of restoring rule of law will require multiple steps. Concerned citizens of Georgia are now carrying out this mission in the state legislature, but should think locally as well.
Not unlike California’s anti-indefinite detention bill signed into law last year, Georgia’s bill to nullify federal kidnapping, HB712, stops short of an express prohibition on all government agencies and employees within the state. However, it does create a powerful climate for follow up activity and legislation on a local level to give the legal force it needs to have a practical impact moving forward. The prohibitory language of HB712 reads [PDF] (emphasis added):
no agency of this state, no political subdivision of this state, no employee of an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the Georgia National Guard on active state service shall aid an agency of the armed forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of any person pursuant to Section 1021 of the federal National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Georgia National Guard in violation of the United States Constitution, the constitution of this state, or any law of this state.
By including a caveat at the end of this section – if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee… – the bill is not an express prohibition on all agencies, political subdivisions, and employees, including the Georgia National Guard. Rather, since no official determination has been made on such constitutionality as of yet, it leaves Constitutionality to discretion. But, the bill does create a legal backing to those sheriffs, law enforcement officers, and other agencies and employees, to refuse to assist the federal government in such activities based on their own constitutional determination.
If passed into law, HB712 would also create a climate for each local community in the state – counties, cities, towns, etc – to step up and get involved. Once passed, activists would be encouraged to press their local governments to pass legally-binding ordinances to give the new state law additional force. The local legislation would do the following:
a) Express full support for the new state policy to “refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of any federal law that purports to authorize indefinite detention of a person within Georgia.”
b) Create an express prohibition on the use of any local government assets – funds, employees, and the like – to provide material support for or participate in any way with federal indefinite detention.
Once the state is blanketed with localities which have passed such measures, the practical effect would be even stronger than if HB712 had ordered them to do the same. Reaching this point would mean that support for the effort would be well into the mainstream around the state, and that resolve to ensure the resistance continues to victory is likely much stronger.
While activists would still be encouraged to take this path if HB712 fails, passage of the bill with its very specific policy intent will make accomplishing these local goals much less difficult.
In Georgia: Take steps to support HB713 HERE.
Other States: Contact your state legislators today – urge them to introduce similar legislation. Model bills and contact info HERE.