This fall, Arizona voters have the chance to honor the spirit of James Madison by voting Yes on Proposition 122. If passed, the state constitutional amendment would make the feds enforce, enact and pay for its unconstitutional actions and programs on their own.

If successful, Prop. 122 would enshrine the anti-commandeering doctrine in the state constitution, and would keep state tax dollars from being squandered on federal boondoggles. The language amends the state constitution to give Arizona the ability to “exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are consistent with the Constitution.”

The ballot measure was enacted after the Arizona state legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1016 (SCR1016) last year. The state Senate passed it by a 16-12 margin, and then in the state House approved it 36-23. Voters will take up the initiative in the Nov. 4 election

“Politicians in Washington are fond of passing far-reaching laws, but more often than not they depend on state and local governments – and state and local taxpayers – to implement them. This means that not only is Congress making life harder for Arizonans, they’re asking us to pay the bill,” according to the Yes on 122 website. “That’s why a bipartisan majority of the Arizona Legislature came together to pass Prop 122.”

This measure is congruent with the words of James Madison, who wrote in Federalist #46:

Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.

The amendment language mirrors a well-established legal doctrine. Under the anti-commandeering doctrine, the Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce and federal act or program.It rests primarily on four SCOTUS cases – Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), New York v. US (1992), Printz v. US (1997) and National Federation of Businesses v. Sebelius.

Arizona voters now have the opportunity to take James Madison’s advice and directly apply it to their state’s political system. When state-level compliance is removed, the feds are limited a great deal in the scope of their operations. Arizona can continue the bold trend of states re-asserting their sovereignty by pushing back against federal overreach this upcoming November.

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