JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Dec. 4, 2014 – On the heels of a close victory for Proposition 122, approved by Arizona voters last month, a similar proposal to create a mechanism for rejecting federal acts was introduced in Missouri this week.

Prefiled by State Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), House Joint Resolution 12 (HJR12) “prohibits the state from devoting any resources toward enforcing any federal law deemed unconstitutional by the voters or the general assembly.”

“I think our federal government needs to be held to the Constitution,” said Brattin.  “We’ve got to do anything and everything in our power to ensure that our sovereignty as a state is protected,” he continued.

If passed by the legislature, the measure would go to voters for approval in Nov. 2016. The language would amend the Missouri constitution to give the state 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 proposed amendment language in Missouri mirrors the well-established legal doctrine of anti-commandeering.  The Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce a federal act or program. This doctrine 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 (2012).

The Printz case serves as the modern cornerstone. In it, Justice Scalia held:

The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. 

This language is consistent with the advice 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. [emphasis added]


While the federal politicians and bureaucrats would like you to believe that the federal government is all-powerful and will do what it wants, when it wants, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Secret Service wasn’t able to carry out a warrantless raid in Tennessee without help from local police. In fact, they were so desperate for help from the state, they were “frantic.”

A vast majority of raids carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) only occur with significant assistance from state or local resources. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) barely has the resources to shut down just a fraction of marijuana businesses in just one city out of the 20+ states rejecting the unconstitutional federal prohibition on that plant.

When the NSA builds a new facility to house all your private communications, it relies on things like water or electricity provided by state or local agencies, or it won’t have the resources to stay open.

The Affordable Care Act is already being crippled by states that have refused to implement parts of the federal program, and further state resistance is likely to bring the entire Act down.

The National Park Service can’t shut down a park without help from states, and the FBI’s facial recognition program won’t go anywhere without images supplied by state Departments of Motor Vehicles.

During the partial federal “shutdown” of 2013, National Association of Governors admitted, “States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs.”

Partnerships rarely work when only half the partners are involved.


HJR12 would place language in the state constitution to empower the people of Missouri to pass referendums, bills or use other legal means to end cooperation with a federal act. Supporters of the amendment say the provision allowing the people to vote to refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will prove especially significant.

“Basically, it will be part of the state constitution to allow Missourians to hold a state referendum on federal policy, something I think we could see happening all the time,” one supporter said.

While the people of Missouri could hold a referendum like this now, by constitutionalizing the process, it would put the issue to the forefront. A referendum ensures that the result is the product of the people, and less the source of backroom legislative deals.

The amendment would allow the people of Missouri to deal with unpopular federal programs like, gun control, common core, surveillance, and more. Simply put, the amendment enshrines a process to refuse state cooperation with unconstitutional federal acts in the state constitution.  As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said, refusing participation on a state level can make federal laws “nearly impossible to enforce.”


HJR12 has the potential to be a real game changer. If passed, it becomes even more likely that other states will follow the lead of Arizona and then Missouri. From there, it will be up to the people to take action to reject the use of their resources for federal acts of their choosing, pulling the rug out from under a vast array of unconstitutional federal power.

While not something that will happen in the immediate future, this kind of domino effect is what’s needed to spell doom for the destructive notion of endless federal supremacy. Because the feds rely on state compliance far more than they would like you to realize, these type of measures are incredibly important. They have the potential to create a chain reaction that could shake up the status quo more than anything we’ve seen in generations.


In Missouri, contact your state rep and urge them to support and co-sponsor HJR12.  Contact info here:

Also, contact your state sen. and urge them to introduce similar legislation in the senate. Contact info here:

ALL OTHER STATES, Contact your state rep and senator and urge them to introduce language similar to what was passed by the people of Arizona as well. Get that here.  Contact info here:

Michael Boldin

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