Tennessee NDAA Nullification bill appears dead, but general nullification bill could take its place

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 12, 2012) – The Tennessee Law Enforcement Notification Act died a political death by amendment in committee late last month.

The original bill would have effectively nullified provisions for detention without due process written into the National Defense Authorization Act, and would have also require federal agents making an arrest in the Volunteer State for any reason to first obtain written permission from the county sheriff. It would have also made it possible for state law enforcement to charge federal agents attempting to detain a person in Tennessee under the NDAA with kidnapping.

Both the Senate and House versions of the bill went up in flames, failing to garner enough support to make headway in committee.

But in the ashes of HB2619/SB2669 rose amended legislation that would still give the Volunteer State a powerful weapon against not only detention provisions in the NDAA, but any unconstitutional federal act.

The amended version of the legislation provides a mechanism for the Tennessee legislature to deem a federal act unconstitutional. That would open the door to state non-compliance with federal efforts to enforce such an act.

If done in accordance with this section, the general assembly in exercising its rights under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, may by resolution determine and declare a federal statute or regulation to be unconstitutional either on its face or in its application to a particular situation.

It would require a two-thirds vote by both the House and the Senate to approve a resolution declaring an act unconstitutional.

Upon receiving a resolution passed by the general assembly in accordance with this section, no law enforcement agency in this state shall assist a federal law enforcement agent or agency in the enforcement of any federal statute or regulation about which a resolution has been adopted by the general assembly pursuant to this section.

Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey points out that the new legislation creates a formal process for state nullification, and Tennessee legislators could apply it to any unconstitutional act, including NDAA detention provisions.

“While it’s disappointing that Tennessee lawmakers failed to move forward with one of the toughest proposed bills against NDAA detention out there, at least they came up with something viable in its place – a bill that still asserts the state’s authority in all matters not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution,” he said. “In fact, the bill is stronger in some ways because of its broad scope. If passed, this bill still creates a process for the state legislature to refuse compliance with NDAA kidnapping. Plus they could apply it to any other unconstitutional act, present or future that the feds try to enforce in the volunteer state.”

Despite the proposed amendment, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to pass the bill, voting it down 4-3 on April 4. But the House version remains alive. The House Judiciary Committee recommended HB2619 for passage if amended and referred it to the Calendar and Rules Committee, which then rereferred it to the House Finance Subcommittee.

Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center state chapter coordinator Lesley Swann says the bill still has a huge hurdle to overcome before the full House can consider it, calling the finance committee the “place bills go to die when representatives don’t want to go on record voting for or against them.”

If the bill makes it out of the finance committee, the full House would have the option of adopting the amended version or the original NDAA/sheriffs first bill.


If you live in Tennessee, contact members of the finance subcommittee and ask them to move HB2619 out of committee. You can find committee member contact information HERE.

Also contact you state representative and let them know you want this bill passed, and urge them to call for passage out of committee. You can locate contact information for your representative HERE.