BISMARCK, N.D. (Mar 16, 2015) – Last Friday, the North Dakota House passed a measure that follows James Madison’s advice to stop federal overreach. The vote was 61-30.

Introduced by State Rep. Robert Skarphol and ten cosponsors, House Concurrent Resolution (HCR3022) would create a mechanism in the state constitution “restricting state and local government personnel and financial resources to purposes that are consistent with the Constitution of the United States.”

Similar to Proposition 122 passed by voters in Arizona last November, HCR3022 would ban the state of North Dakota and all political subdivisions “from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate with [a] designated federal action” that is deemed unconstitutional through “passage of an initiative or referendum pursuant to section 1 of article III [of the state constitution]; a law enacted by the legislative assembly; or pursuing any other available legal remedy.”

Already being used by the Arizona legislature as a tool to help block enforcement of Obamacare, federal gun control, unilateral executive orders from the President, and more, passage of HCR3022 could be a game-changer for North Dakota as well.


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.


HCR3022 is consistent with the advice of James Madison, who advised a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” in Federalist #46 as an effective method to stop federal power.

Madison’s advice, and the language of HCR3022 both mirror 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 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 (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.

As noted Georgetown Law Constitutional Scholar Randy Barnett has said, “This line of cases is … considered well settled.”


After passing the House, HCR3022 now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a public hearing will be held in the near future. Should the committee pass the resolution, it will move to the full Senate for concurrence.  Passage in both houses will send HCR3022 to a vote of the People at the general election in 2016, bypassing the Governor’s desk.

Supporters are strongly urged to contact all members of the Senate committee, requesting a YES vote on HCR3022. Contact information for all members can be found here:

Michael Boldin

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