Updated: Read Rep Nelson’s remarks in the comments. I missed the fact he went before the house and tried to smoke the bill out. It failed.
Earlier today I blogged about nullification gaining mainstream support. As I look back at the 2013 South Dakota Legislative Session I see an example of an attempted nullification law: House Bill 1222. The description of this bill is:
provide that any federal law that attempts to ban firearms, to limit the size of firearm magazines, or to impose other limitations on firearms is unenforceable in South Dakota, to provide a penalty, and to declare an emergency.
On February 13 Representative Nelson went before the State Affairs committee to submit an amendment and speak about this bill. The amendment (which is not listed on the bill’s website) would have changed this bill to apply only in cases of Presidential Executive Orders. This is because most of this bill already exists in South Dakota Codified Law and this new bill was meant to expand the current law so they apply to executive orders. As Rep. Nelson stated during his testimony, Executive Orders have been used extensively during the last fifty to sixty years as a way for Presidents to get around constitutional limits. Bills such as this are a way for states to tell the President that such behavior is not OK.
I personally like one part of the original bill and think it should have been passed by itself: “The attorney general may defend a citizen of South Dakota who is prosecuted by the United States government for violation of a federal law relating to the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition owned or manufactured and retained exclusively within the borders of South Dakota.”
Ironically the Governors Office sent someone to testify against this bill. This goes back to a post I created a few months ago: South Dakota Governor Daugaard and US President Obama Agree: Balance of Power is Annoying. It’s also ironic that the opposition highlighted the fact the attorney general would be required to uphold the law? Isn’t that the job of the attorney generals office? Do we really want an attorney general’s office that does not wish to protect the rights of South Dakota citizens in court?
Unfortunately this bill was killed in committee by deferring it to the 41st legislative day. I think this issue deserved debate before the whole house, and not just within the State Affairs Committee. Perhaps we will see another attempt of this sort in the 2014 legislative session. It will be interesting to see a nullification law pass directed specifically at executive orders.