Federalism Challenge

Mar 1, 2013

State senators approved a measure this week that one of them warned is going to get the state some unwanted attention. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

The proposal by Senator Chester Crandell would allow Arizonans to "reject a federal action that the people determine violates the United States Constitution." Voters defeated an identical measure last year. Crandell said this simply recognizes states' rights.

But Senator Steve Gallardo said he foresees a different effect. "Come on folks, let's be serious now," Gallardo said. "If we want to get away from the Daily Show and all the national type television shows that keep mocking Arizona, we must put an end to stuff like this. We cannot be putting this on the ballot."

The actions of Arizona elected officials have been a perennial target of the humor of Daily Show host Jon Stewart. In 2010, for example, Stewart cited the comments of former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who called the U.S. the laboratory of democracy. Then he pointed to legislation targeting illegal immigrants, letting anyone carry a concealed weapon and requiring candidates for president to provide birth certificates.

Senator Crandell, however, said his measure simply acknowledges that the Supreme Court has said the burden is on the federal government to prove it has the constitutional right or power to do something.