Don’t Ignore Federal Law
REP. NORA ESPINOZA has dropped HB 114 which will penalize state employees or employees of gun stores who enforce federal gun laws and regulations. While I do not believe we should have minimal requirements for those running for public office, such as a college degree, I do believe candidates and office-holders should know a little American history.
As early as 1828 John Calhoun of South Carolina, then Andrew Jackson’s vice president, worked to have South Carolina selectively choose not to enforce or recognize — nullify — federal laws related to slavery. When President Jackson won a second term, Calhoun became a senator from South Carolina and continued to support nullification of federal laws the state did not like. Ultimately, the issue came to a head with the secession of southern states and our Civil War.
The conclusion of the Civil War and subsequent Supreme Court decisions over the years have supported the supremacy of federal law over state law.
Rep. Espinoza and, apparently, 10 other House co-sponsors are refighting a concept put to bed almost 150 years ago: States may not nullify or ignore federal law.
Whatever gun laws are currently on the books or may be added, New Mexico officials and private citizens are and will be bound by them.
States Can Nullify Laws
ALBUQUERQUE REP. Gail Casey used the word “secession” in commenting on a nullification bill introduced by Roswell Rep. Nora Espinoza.
Espinoza’s bill, House Bill 114, is one of many such bills being introduced in various other state Legislatures seeking to void bad federal law and thereby protect the citizens from federal overreach.
It is curious that the city where the (N.M.) Legislature meets has “seceeded” from a law the city considers so bad it has declared the city a “sanctuary city.”
The antiquated term “sanctuary” was borrowed from the Catholic Church but the antiquity has not stopped certain groups (from pressuring) city councils to impose it. City councils in La Cuidad de La Santa Fe — City of Holy Faith — to Denver to La Cuidad De La Reina de Los Angeles — Los Angeles — have declared null and void federal immigration statutes, formally serving notice to the feds of non-cooperation with the federal government. As far as I am aware those cities still receive federal revenue shares despite thumbing their noses at the big and bad federal ICE people.
This partial and mild form of secession has not caused the union to dissolve into the scary scenarios some associate with secession. In fact California voters approved a another mild “secession” measure to legalize pot despite federal statutes banning the weed.
These state secession laws more aptly called “nullification” laws are legal and supported by historical precedent. History shows that a few states nullified a bad federal law called the Fugitive Slave Act way back in the middle of the 19th century. Congress wrote language in this act that would force states to return runaway slaves back to the plantations they escaped from! Some Northern states simply issued a noncooperation decree, nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act. It’s been a long time since Northern states were under the threat of being forced by an act of Congress to do something repugnant like that!
Logic tells us that since the individual states met in convention in 1787 and created the federal government, it makes perfect sense from an historical and constitutional perspective that states have the power over the federal government to nullify bad laws coming down from DC.
Bad laws are still being formulated by Congress but the Constitution is there, too. State legislators need to use it to nullify and void them.
Supreme Law of the Land
RE: REP. Nora Espinoza’s introduction of a bill to negate federal gun law
I refer Ms. Espinoza to Article VI, clause 2 — also know as the supremacy clause — of our U.S. Contitution when paraphased sets forth in part as follows:
Federal law is the supreme law of the land and is superior to all other law including New Mexico law. The Supreme Court has ruled that states do not have the power to nullify federal law.
I would recommend that she study this clause and the precedent established and stop wasting the taxpayers’ money by withdrawing this legislation which would be completely unenforceable.
You Can’t Pick and Choose
THE JAN. 18 story about the introduction by Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, of a bill that would make it a felony to attempt to enforce federal gun laws in New Mexico made me realize it was time to bone up on the U.S. Constitution.
So I Googled the exact wording of the Second Amendment. The version — there’s more than one — ratified by the states reads:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
I had a hard time seeing how owning and bearing arms automatically makes me part of a well-regulated militia, but that’s just me. I decided to think about it later, after I finished my constitutional research.
Because of that story, I thought it pertinent to seek out the Constitution’s Article VI Clause 2.
Oooops. It doesn’t fit Espinoza’s desire to have New Mexico freely and willfully defy federal law, making criminals of those who try to enforce it. It reads:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof…under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Law of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
Known as the supremacy clause, it basically says federal law trumps state law, like it or not. It also seems to say judges will have to throw out any charges against people trying to enforce federal laws, but I’ll think about that later.
More to the immediate point: Does this really apply to we the people?
Certain rights and responsibilities are automatically conferred upon U.S.-born citizens. Unfortunately, no list of them is delivered to babies in the cradle, but I learned they are enumerated for foreigners seeking citizenship. And they are specified in the oath of allegiance, which also is automatically conferred on those born here but must be sworn by all foreign-born, would-be U.S. citizens. The oath says:
“… I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”
What? The whole Constitution? All of the laws? I can’t pick and choose? I can’t embrace the Second Amendment but ignore and/or violate the supremacy clause? I’m required, as a citizen, to defend the entire Constitution and all federal laws against those who want to follow only the ones they like?
Wow. What a concept. I’ll think about it. Maybe Espinoza will too.
Turn to the Courts on Laws
RE: REP. NORA Espinoza’s House Bill 114: I don’t understand how any legislator in any state can, in good conscience, introduce a bill to prohibit enforcement of federal gun laws. When legislators take office, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of their own state.
If Rep. Espinoza thinks the federal gun laws are unconstitutional, then she has recourse to the courts. She can appeal to have the gun laws overturned, but she has not done that. She and a few fellow legislators seek to pass state laws making federal law illegal!
In no way can her action be seen as upholding the U.S. Constitution, a legal obligation of her oath of office. By introducing H.B. 114, Rep. Espinoza has committed an impeachable offense.