Tag Archives: tenth amendment

TN State Senate Considers Bill to Ban Cops from Using Military Equipment

After a 2014 News Channel 5 investigation determined that officials in Tennessee had been abusing the US Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies, Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate is considering a bill that would ban cops in the state from owning or using military equipment. The bill, SB0039, was introduced by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and states that “no law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for law enforcement purposes.” The Tenth Amendment Center notes that the proposed law would also require all state and local police agencies to sell or destroy their existing inventories of military weapons and equipment before January 1, 2016.

News Channel 5‘s 2014 report noted that small law enforcement agencies, such as the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, which received 5 military-grade weapons for each of its 31 officers, were stockpiling far more weapons than could conceivably be useful in violation of Department of Defense policy. Weapons like M-16s and M-14s fell into the wrong hands after they were stolen from police, and the son of a rural police chief was caught impersonating a police officer while carrying an M-16 that he stole from the 1033 program.

Mike Maharrey at the Tenth Amendment Center described some of the equipment that the bill would ban from use by police if it were to pass, “Banned military weapons include machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, recoilless rifles, and crew-served weapons. The legislation also prohibits ‘military vehicles,’ defined as ‘a tactical armored vehicle obtained pursuant to Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.’ The bill specifically exempts some weapons, including magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled rifles or carbines designed for semiautomatic or automatic fire and grenade launchers adapted for non-lethal rounds.”

SB0039 was introduced by Senator Kelsey on January 14 and currently awaits a committee assignment.

The Tennessee Senate’s bill comes at a time when politicos across the nation debate the militarization of law enforcement agencies, as many Americans were recently shocked by news footage of heavily-armored police in places like Ferguson, MO and Berkeley, CA engaging in military-style crackdowns on police brutality protesters who were angry over the officer-involved deaths of unarmed suspects Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Ben Swann recently released a Truth in Media episode looking into the root of police militarization. Watch his expose on the subject in the player, embedded below.

Can the States beat the feds? Judge Napolitano on Nullification

Can we ever reclaim liberty from our insidious creature? Decentralization of power is the key, and the feds have known it for quite some time. The Tenth Amendment is salvation. At its core, the mechanism to reclaim our power.

It’s an old clip, but it deserves reintroduction. Listen to Judge Andrew Napolitano on nullification.

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TEXAS: New bill declares all federal gun control invalid and non enforceable

AUSTIN, November 14, 2014– A Texas legislator has introduced a new bill to derail the enforcement of virtually all federal gun control measures within the state’s borders.

“With this bill, Texas could help lead the country forward,” said Scott Landreth, campaign lead for ShallNot.org, a project of the Tenth Amendment Center that advocates for states to protect their citizens from federal overreach. “Passage would have serious impact on the federal government’s ability to carry out its unconstitutional gun control measures already on the books.”

Landreth  has suggested that this could create a domino effect.

Introduced by newly re-elected State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington), House Bill 176 (HB176) declares all federal restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms to be “invalid” and “not enforceable” within the state of Texas. It bill reads, in part:

A federal law, including a statute, an executive, administrative, or court order, or a rule, that infringes on a law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 23, Article I, Texas Constitution, is invalid and not enforceable in this state.

If passed into law, all government agencies and employees within Texas would be banned from enforcing any federal law in violation of the act.  The prohibition on enforcement includes any federal legislation that:

(1) imposes a tax, fee, or stamp on a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition that is not common to all other goods and services and may be reasonably expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by a law-abiding citizen;

(2) requires the registration or tracking of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition or the owners of those items that may be reasonably expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by a law-abiding citizen;

(3) prohibits the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition by a law-abiding citizen;

(4) orders the confiscation of a firearm, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition from a law-abiding citizen.

State employees who knowingly violate the act would risk a suit for damages for assisting the federal government violate an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in Texas. A defense of sovereign immunity would also be prohibited in such a suit.

Kleinschmidt, starting his 4th term in January, has developed a reputation as a strong defender of the Second Amendment. In the 2013 session, he worked to pass legislation that “prohibits public and private colleges and universities from adopting administrative rules banning the possession, transportation and storage of lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition in private motor vehicles by students and visitors with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs).”  He was also heralded by the NRA-ILA for his 2011 employee/parking lot protection bill that was signed into law that year.

Recognizing that the federal government would always require cooperation on a state and local level, James Madison, writing in Federalist #46, advised state “legislative devices” and a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a strategy to push back against unconstitutional or merely unpopular federal acts.

Last year, Judge Andrew Napolitano said that if a single state stop participating in the enforcement of federal gun laws, it would make those laws “nearly impossible” to enforce within the state.

“If a few other states follow Kleinschmidt’s lead, it’ll also give Washington D.C. pause before even trying to pass new restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms,” he said.

The approach is on sound legal footing, with notable Supreme Court opinions backing the view that the federal government cannot require a state to expend manpower or resources in the enforcement of a federal act. The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the 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 now 20 years old and considered well settled.”

In 2013, similar legislation was passed in Idaho, although not as far-reaching as the bill from Kleinschmidt. Another bill was signed into law in Alaska, but lacked the specifics of which federal acts the law addressed.  And another law was signed in Kansas, but is currently not being enforced due to a court challenge from the Brady Campaign over provisions that include criminal charges for federal agents.

HB176 will first be assigned to a committee, where it will need to pass before a full assembly of the State House can consider it.

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Breaking: Michigan nullifies NDAA Indefinite Detention

Guantanamo Bay Prison

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed into law yesterday SB0094. The bill attempts to nullify Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Michigan joins other states who have sought to nullify the NDAA’s controversial indefinite detention clause.

SB0094 sponsor Michigan Senator Rick Jones (R) told us:

“Historically Michigan first asserted 10th Amendment rights in 1855 when we passed a law to block the Fugitive Slave Act. I thought of this great history as I pushed the bill to nullify the NDAA. No US citizen should have to fear being thrown into jail or prison without charges. I got support from both sides of the political spectrum. With the Governor’s signature, Michigan states no local police, state police, sheriff or Michigan National Guard will assist the feds with holding a US citizen without Habeas Corpus.”

Senate Bill No. 94 reads:

  • AN ACT to prohibit any agency of this state, any political subdivision of this state, any employee of any agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state, or any member of the Michigan national guard from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States under certain circumstances.
  • No agency of this state, no political subdivision of this state, no employee of an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the Michigan national guard on active state service shall aid an agency of the armed forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of any person pursuant to section 1021 of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2012, if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Michigan national guard in violation of the United States constitution, the state constitution of 1963, or any law of this state… (Read the rest of the bill HERE)

According to Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey:

“This is a great step forward in protecting the basic due process rights of people in Michigan and gives activists there something to build on. Moving forward, I would love to see the Michigan legislature expand the policy in two ways. First, I would like to see it include protection for all people, not just U.S. citizens. After all, every person has a right to basic due process, no matter who they are or where they are from. Second, I would like to see a bill expanding the ban on cooperation to any future federal law or regulation that purports to allow indefinite detention. No federal act can justify kidnapping. None.”

Maharrey does note that the bill needs some work. He calls it “a fantastic start.”

“By including a caveat – “if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Michigan national guard in violation of the United States constitution, the state constitution of 1963, or any law of this state”  – the bill is not an express prohibition.  Rather, since no official determination has been made on such constitutionality as of yet, it leaves the decision of constitutionality to discretion. But, the new law does provide legal backing for those sheriffs, law enforcement officers, and other agencies and employees, who refuse to assist the federal government in such activities based on their own constitutional determination.”

The bill’s bite is rooted is anti-commandeering doctrine. This doctrine, which has been well established by the United States Supreme Court (Printz v. United States), dictates that the federal government cannot force state legislatures to enforce federal laws.

According to Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Printz v. United States, state legislatures are not subject to federal direction. Although Congress may enforce its own laws, they may not force the states to carry out their duties in such laws. According to the Court, the Constitution establishes a system of dual sovereignty where states and the federal government exercise concurrent authority. Giving Congress the power to force states in to service would greatly enhance federal power, and the Court ruled this could not stand.

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South Carolina Could Lead the Nation by Nullifying Obamacare

A bill being fast-tracked by the South Carolina Senate would nullify Obamacare, and it’s likely that this bill will open the flood gates for other states dissatisfied with the Affordable Care Act.


The bill, entitled “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act” (H.3101), was voted on and passed by a 65-34 vote in the state House of Representatives last April. Now, it moves on to the Republican-controlled state Senate with a priority flag and could quickly be signed into law by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.


According to the Daily Caller, state Sen. Tom Davis, the bill’s sponsor who recently wrapped up study committee hearings for the bill in Columbia, Charleston and other cities, says that the proposed legislation renders the Affordable Care Act void or inoperable through a handful of provisions.


The bill’s main component prohibits agencies, officers and employees of the state of South Carolina from implementing any provisions of the Affordable Care Act, leaving implementation of the national health-care law entirely in the hands of a federal government that lacks the resources or personnel to carry out the programs it mandates, reported the Daily Caller.


The basis of the bill is an anti-commandeering doctrine, meaning that the federal government can’t force the states to carry out federal laws.


“Congress can pass laws, but it cannot compel the states to utilize either their treasury or personnel to implement those federal laws,” explained state Sen. Davis.

Davis said that South Carolina is considering two additional provisions to the bill. One would outlaw Medicaid expansion and the other would suspend the licenses of insurers who receive Affordable Care Act subsidies.

Jesse Graston, one of the grassroots activists who helped Rep. Bill Chumley get H.3101 passed this year, told Benswann.com, “I’m working with legislators from Tennessee and Oklahoma on their bills, and it is very likely they will be able to pass their bills right after we push ours through. Simple non-compliance by our state as well as other states to enforce Obamacare will kill it. The feds cannot do Obamacare by themselves…”

Benswann.com’s, Joshua Cook asked Mike Maharrey from the Tenth Amendment Center, about state senator Tom Davis’ bill.


Cook: “Is the anti-commandeering doctrine found in Davis’ bill a form of nullification?”


Maharrey: “Anti-commandeering is simply the legal doctrine holding that the feds cannot force the states to enforce or implement their acts or programs. Non-cooperation is one tactic to nullify an act, or as Madison put it “refusal too cooperate with officers of the union.”


“Nullification is an end result – making an unconstitutional act inoperable within the state. So yes – non-cooperation, which happens to have legal sanction under the anti-commandeering doctrine, is a path to nullification.”


“Think of it this way – if a state passes a law criminalizing federal agents, and nothing happens, is that nullification? On the other hand, if a state passes a law stopping enforcement of federal acts, and those federal acts stay on the books, but stop being enforced – is that nullification?”

“Call it what you want, we’ll consider it nullified.”