The following is a letter of support by TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey in support of Idaho House Bill 65. This legislation would create a mechanism to review federal laws and end state cooperation with enforcement of those that violate the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. This process would set the stage to effectively block some federal laws in Idaho.

Dear members of the Idaho House State Affairs Committee,

The Tenth Amendment Center fully supports passage of H65 to create a mechanism to review federal laws and end state cooperation with enforcement of those that violate the original intent of the U.S. Constitution.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “The several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government.” The Constitution delegates specific powers to the federal government, leaving most authority to the states and the people.

But this raises an important question: what do we do when the federal government oversteps its bounds?

James Madison answered that question in Federalist #46. The Father of the Constitution said states should create “impediments and obstructions” to “unwarrantable federal measures” by a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.” This strategy provides an extremely powerful method to render federal laws effectively unenforceable because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states. H65 creates a process that could effectively end enforcement of federal laws deemed to violate the original intent of the U.S. Constitution.  

This may seem like a radical approach, but H65 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 is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842.

In Prigg v. Pennsylvania, Justice Joseph Story set the foundation for the doctrine, holding that the federal government could not force states to cooperate with fugitive slave rendition.

“The [Fugitive Slave]clause is found in the national Constitution, and not in that of any state. It does not point out any state functionaries, or any state action to carry its provisions into effect. The states cannot, therefore, be compelled to enforce them; and it might well be deemed an unconstitutional exercise of the power of interpretation, to insist that the states are bound to provide means to carry into effect the duties of the national government, nowhere delegated or instrusted to them by the Constitution.” [Emphasis added.]

Printz v. US built on this principle and serves as the cornerstone of the anti-commandeering doctrine.

“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.”

In 2014, both chambers of the Idaho legislature unanimously passed a bill prohibiting enforcement of future federal gun laws based on this legal principle.

There should be no debate on the legality of H65. The only question to answer is whether you believe the State of Idaho should maintain control over how it allocates and directs its own personnel and resources, and if the state has a role in protecting and defending the Constitution. Passage of this legislation will allow you do that. Failure to pass H65, will allow politicians over 2,000 miles away to continue to direct your actions and overstep their delegated authority.

Madison said that “in the case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the [constitution], the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

Passage of H65 will create a process allowing you to interpose when necessary to protect and defend the Constitution – along with the autonomy of Idaho.

I strongly urge you to vote ‘yes’ on H65.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


Maharrey Minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.