‘That’s absurd beyond the word absurd’
You know Republican state lawmakers in Texas are pursuing a troubling agenda when “birther” legislation starts to move, and it’snot the most ridiculous proposal worth watching.
Rather, this is (thanks to Anneli Kunze on our Facebook page for the tip).
Perhaps the most controversial of the gun-related items, HB 1076 would ban state agencies from enforcing any new federal gun laws, including background checks. The bill passed the Republican-led House on a largely party line vote Monday, but legal experts say the attempt to “nullify” possible future federal laws likely wouldn’t pass the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“That’s absurd beyond the word absurd. I like the author personally but that’s just pure political grandstanding,” said state Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth).
I know I talk about the problems of the right-wing “nullification” agenda quite a bit, but it’s only because it represents such a hysterical, reactionary radicalism that has no place in modern American politics.
In this case, Texas’ nullification bill effectively hopes to freeze the status quo of federal gun laws in place indefinitely. The state is prepared to honor federal laws as they currently exist, but if policymakers in Washington expanded current laws in any way, Texas would ignore those changes — based on the “because I say so” theory of modern jurisprudence.
It wouldn’t matter if new federal laws are entirely constitutional; it wouldn’t matter if the new laws saved lives; it wouldn’t matter if the new news enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. Under the proposal pending in Texas, current laws have reached a ceiling, and any effort to raise that ceiling must be ignored.
This is, of course, crazy. Whether Texas likes it or not, states can’t pick and choose which federal laws they’ll honor and which they’ll ignore.
I can’t say at this point whether the pending bill has a chance of passing, though it seems like the sort of thing Gov. Rick Perry (R) would like to sign. But I can say the bill, if it becomes state law, would not withstand a legal challenge.
By Steve Benen
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