Down in Mississippi and Up to No Good
Most of us might expect that things couldn’t reasonably get much worse for the State of Mississippi, but we’d be wrong. Meet Rep. Gary Chism and Rep. Jeff Smith, GOP local talent serving in the Mississippi State House and collaborators on, arguably, the single most asinine piece of legislation ever produced in the “laboratories of Democracy”— House Bill 490 the Mississippi Balance of Powers Act.
As a rule, I don’t pay a lot of attention to how Mississippians manage their abysmal state. That’s their problem. But every once in a while, usually when they get their backs up about race, Mississippi legislators cough up some horrifying, embarrassing, loogey of a law just to remind us that we’re not all that “exceptional”, after all.
They did it after the Civil War, then again after the Civil Rights Act became law and they’re doing it now because some uppity black Socialist foreigner is trying to tell them what to do.
This latest fiasco, compliments of Messrs. Smith & Chism, proposes to establish a Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Laws which boldly pretends that it is actually plausible to ignore federal laws that we don’t like.
This Committee will consist of the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House, six state senators and six state representatives buuuuuut no more than four members of one party for the senators and reps.
The purpose of the committee will be to review federal laws, regulations and executive orders to determine if they are “outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution.” [What’s that, you say? Given their scope of work, the committee’s job just might overlap the job of the US Supreme Court? (we’ll get to that)]
If the committee recommends, by a simple majority vote, the neutralization of a federal law, the committee will send it to the Legislature for a vote of neutralization. The Legislature will have 60 days to act, meanwhile “the issue in question is of no effect.” [My bold]
If the Legislature votes, by a simple majority, to neutralize the federal law, “then the state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.”
This nicely does away with the austerities that secession might impose by allowing Mississippi to continue as one of the United States, in good standing, federal funding intact—just not being subject to laws Mississippians don’t like. For example ObamaCare, gun control, ooooh! and, oh yeah, how about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (enacted with Mississippi, specifically, in mind).
Now, because these goobers are not total idiots their bill gives a hat-tip to SCOTUS:
the proper jurisdiction for these disputes will lie with the Supreme Court of the United States alone.
But think about that for a minute . . . they’re saying that not only will they pick and choose the federal laws that they will and will not follow, but they’re not willing to dick around with the lower federal courts on the road to nullification.
And SCOTUS, don’t think, for a minute, that you’re the alpha dog in this fight, because:
If there is improper adjudication by the Supreme Court, then the people’s interest shall be maintained and retained through state referendum.
One can only speculate, with the aid of one’s tinfoil hat, what such a referendum would propose? Secession seems to be the au courant American Pout . . . ?
On the referendum, blogger Cottonmouth had this to say:
You know, I can think of a state referendum right now that might actually maintain the people’s interest. But I don’t think the authors of this bill were referencing a recall.
This is going to be more embarrassing before it’s over, I’m afraid.
And just so’s the rest of Murika is on notice, these clerical details will apply:
Upon passage of this act, a certified copy shall be sent to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, each member of the Mississippi congressional delegation, with the request that this act be officially entered into the congressional record.
And the guys responsible for this bad joke and collossal waste of the taxpayers’ time and money? Not clueless backbenchers from Dogpatch but House Insurance Committee Chairman Gary Chism, and Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith who has twenty years in the State House and missed becoming Speaker of the House by one vote, a few years back.
When asked by reporters what got House Bill 490 rolling, Gary Chism had this to say:
Certainly, the Obamacare started this, but them gun show loopholes that the president wanted after Newtown really put an exclamation on that — that we need to do something to stand up for the Tenth Amendment.
[The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says powers not specifically reserved for the federal government are reserved for the states.]
And just so nobody thinks about playing the race card, Chism said the bill is not an attempt to roll back civil rights advances. He also said it is not an attempt to revive the Sovereignty Commission.
That was an ugly past. It ain’t got nothing to do with that.
To be fair, it would appear that Smith & Chism are only responding to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant’s request, last week, that state legislators block enforcement of “any unconstitutional order” from Obama regarding guns. Or maybe it was pressure from the Central Mississippi Tea Party, in December, requesting that state lawmakers “re-establish limited federal involvement in Mississippi” this year.
On the other hand, Mississippi College constitutional law professor, Matt Steffey, said the measure is a waste of time because federal law trumps state law when the two are in conflict.
It is hard to imagine a less productive use of time by key legislative officials than to pursue that which they have no power to pursue.
You picked ‘em, Mississippi. You’re stuck with ‘em. And the whole world is laughing.