Arizona answers to the U.S. Constitution before it answers to the federal government and shouldn’t have to enforce any action from Washington it considers unconstitutional, a state lawmaker contends.
“The states were set up as a United States and also a check and balance on the United States government,” said Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber.
Crandell authored SCR 1016, which would have voters decide in 2014 whether to declare that Arizona can reject federal actions it deems unconstitutional and refrain from dedicating resources to enforcing them.
The Senate Public Safety Committee endorsed the resolution last week, forwarding it to the floor. The measure calls for Arizona to determine the constitutionality of a federal action by passing a voter referendum or initiative, approving a bill in the Legislature or “using any other available remedy.”
“The bill has nothing to do with nullifying the law,” Crandell said. “It allows the state of Arizona to look at it and decide if it’s constitutional or not and then direct any agencies. It’s still a state issue.”
Crandell said part of the resolution, is similar to a proposition that failed to receive the required number of signatures to be put on the 2012 ballot.
Crandell’s resolution is the latest in a series of proposals over the last several years aimed at limiting the federal government’s power. In November, voters rejected a ballot proposition authored by Crandell that would have declared Arizona’s sovereignty over air, water, public lands and natural resources within the state, with the exception of American Indian reservations.
University of Wyoming political science professor Gregg Cawley said fights over federal and state land are a common complaint.
“The perception of the Western states being disadvantaged has just become a standard rhetoric of conservative Republicans here in the West,” Cawley said.
He said proposals like Crandell’s mirror some of the fears raised by anti-Federalists after the Revolutionary War.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said “If you want to secede from the union, introduce a bill and let’s debate secession,” he said. “Stop beating around the bush and nibbling at the edges.”
Crandell said Arizona is within its rights to send a message and protect its citizens through his resolution.
“There’s nothing in here that would even indicate that we’re trying to secede,” he said.