Republican lawmakers in Tennessee introduced a bill last month, called the State Sovereignty Reclamation Act of 2016, that would block state and local officials from enforcing federal executive orders and Supreme Court decisions that represent policies that have not been passed into law by the state’s legislature.
HB 1828, which was introduced by Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), would prohibit “state and local governments from enforcing, administering, or cooperating with the implementation, regulation, or enforcement of any federal executive order or U.S. supreme court opinion unless the general assembly first expressly implements it as the public policy of the state.” The prohibition would apply to the actions of state and local officials and the use of state funds and resources. The Senate version of the bill, SB 1790, was introduced by Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet).
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While the bill would not authorize state and local officials to stop federal officials from enforcing executive orders or Supreme Court decisions, it would prevent state and local officials from participating in their enforcement under the anti-commandeering doctrine.
Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey, who suggested that some of the policies that would be effectively nullified by the bill “could include federal gun control, environmental regulations and OSHA mandates,” said, “SB1790 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 dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.”
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The New American’s Joe Wolverton, II, J.D. wrote, “[The] Anti-commandeering [doctrine] prohibits the federal government from forcing states to participate in any federal program that does not concern ‘international and interstate matters.’”
The bill must clear the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee before being voted on by the full Tennessee General Assembly.