JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 16, 2015) – A bill prefiled in the Missouri legislature would set the stage to nullify presidential executive orders.

Rep. Tim Remole (R-06) prefiled House Bill 1791 (HB1791) on Dec. 11. The bill would require the state general assembly to “adopt and enact any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of regulations, rules, and memorandums issued by a presidential executive order.”

HB1791 calls executive orders not justified by federal law or the limited constitutional authority of the president of the United States “repugnant to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Missouri.” Language in the bill goes on to declare such executive orders “null void and of no effect” in Missouri.

HB1791 creates a mechanism for state noncooperation with enforcement of such orders, declaring “no agency or political subdivision of this state shall take any action or utilize any resources to give effect to such rules, regulations, or memorandums.” While declaring executive order null and void does nothing to actually stop their enforcement, action taken by the general assembly under the proposed law to bar cooperation with enforcement of such orders would nullify them in effect.

HB1791 follows the blueprint “Father of the Constitution,” created for resisting federal power. In Federalist 46 James Madison outlined several steps that states can take to effectively stop “an unwarrantable measure,” or “even a warrantable measure” of the federal government. Madison called for “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a way to successfully thwart federal acts.

Because the federal government depends on state assistance for enforcement of all of its laws, barring state cooperation with implementation and enforcement of executive orders would likely make them nearly impossible to enact in Missouri from a practical standpoint.


HB1791 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. 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. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”


HB1791 will be referred to a committee once the regular session begins in January. It will need to pass out of that committee by a majority vote before moving on for consideration in the full House.

Mike Maharrey

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