State Capitol News
9:03 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Ballot Initiative Would Let AZ Voters Overrule Federal Laws

An initiative measure filed Thursday would give voters the right to overrule federal laws they believe are unconstitutional.

The measure would let Arizonans -- quote -- reject any federal action that they determine violates the United States Constitution. That could be by majority vote of the Legislature or even a popular election. Organizer Jack Biltis, who has spent $1.2 million of his own money to get the proposal on the November ballot, said a prime example of overreach is the federal Affordable Care Act. He said the fact the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it does not mean it is right. But Biltis said there are other less weighty examples, like the law which phases out the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs to save energy.

"Besides the insanity of it, if you have a federal government that can choose to ban a light bulb that has existed for 100 years, that served us pretty well, what can't they do?" Biltis asked.

Nor is he troubled by the idea of individual states nullifying federal laws within their jurisdictions. He said that is precisely what happened in pre-Civil War days when some Northern states refused to honor the federal Fugitive Slave Act which required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners.

"The Northern states, Wisconsin and many other states, took the courageous act of rejecting those federal laws, protecting their citizens, not allowing their citizens to be kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought back down to the South without even a trial," he said.