Defining State’s Rights in Trump Aftermath
Oklahoma Legislature Does Something Unconstitutional to Let Them Declare Biden’s Executive Orders Unconstitutional
Since when are states allowed to dictate to the President and U.S. Congress while bypassing the courts system, which federal laws, executive orders and government agency rules they will follow?
“He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it”
There are a lot of laws that govern our lives that can be inconvenient or down right annoying. However, we are all expected to follow them anyway.
I admit, there are times when it’s all I can do to sit at a red light when it’s late at an intersection that never has cars go by even at the height of the day and where you can see for miles in every direction. While I wouldn’t call it unconstitutional, I do sometimes think it would be fine to run the light when I can see that there isn’t a car in sight in any direction, know that I’d see one coming a mile away and the alternative is to sit for close to 10 minutes waiting for the darn thing to turn green. But waiting at a red light until it turns green is the law, so sit and wait I do.
Let’s face it — if everyone got to decide which laws they’d follow and which they one’s they wouldn’t, our society would descend into chaos pretty darn quick. It would be even worse if we decided which laws we were going to follow or not follow based on the person who was responsible for passing them or their party. Heck if that were the case, given the last administration, well . . .
But that is just what the Oklahoma legislature has decided to do.
Oklahoma is the third most Republican state in the country, currently in its 12th consecutive Republican party streak with the last five elections won with more than 60 percent popularity. In the 2016 presidential election, the Republican presidential candidate won over 65 percent of the vote. Representative Tom Cole, former fourth ranking House Republican, who served 10 terms in Congress, was one of 139 House Republicans in January to vote to overturn the election results that declared Joe Biden president and stood by his position even after the Capitol riot.
Now the Oklahoma state House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows the state Attorney General and legislature to decide that federal laws and executive orders which are issued or signed by Democratic President Joe Biden are unconstitutional and will not be upheld.
The first part of the bill isn’t that controversial. It allows the legislature to send federal laws or executive orders they believe to be unconstitutional to the state attorney general and if they attorney general agreed they could challenge those laws in court. That would be the way it would be done legally.
The bill that the Oklahoma House has passed however, adds something that makes it minimally controversial and, many would argue, unconstitutional in its own right. If the Attorney General decides not to take the law or order in question to court, this bill allows for the State Legislature itself to declare it unconstitutional.
The Republicans have pushed this bill forward stating that they fear federal overreach. They intend to push back on executive orders, and it seems that the focus is mostly on Presidential Executive Orders, that they feel are challenging state’s rights and rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The Democratic minority fought the bill, pointing out that a state legislature can’t declare what the federal government passes or the President orders by way of his office to be unconstitutional and therefore not binding on the people of Oklahoma. Based on the Supremacy law no state can decide they aren’t going to follow federal law.
When a state law is in conflict with a federal law or executive order, it is the Federal law that wins out. In other words, federal laws and executive orders are considered to be the “supreme Law of the Land,” and they take priority over any and all conflicting state laws. State courts are also bound by the supreme law and state constitutions and laws are subordinate to the supreme or federal law.
According to Oklahoma bill HB1236 however, the state legislature can declare any executive order, congressional law or federal agency rules to be unconstitutional by a simple majority vote. The bill was passed through an 80–14 vote in the Republican-led state House.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Emily Virgin has criticized HB 1236 as being partisan and likely unconstitutional. Virgin told The Oklahoman:
“It’s interesting to me that the States’ Rights Committee only seems to exist when there’s a Democrat in the White House, and that these issues only come up when there’s a Democrat in the White House”
The South Dakota House of Representatives has introduced similar legislature the language of which is almost identical to the Oklahoma Bill.
With the raising of states rights at a level not seen since prior and leading to the American Civil War, the time to put aside the previous administration’s alternate reality of narcissistic self-entitlement at any cost is now. If the Republican party cannot see the danger in the direction they’re and reject a mindset of opposing everything this administration works towards at the expense of the entire nation, we may find ourselves once again in a situation where brother fights brother.
Donald Trumps Legacy Continues to Harm Our Nation
Though no longer president, Trump continues to split apart our nation. Although he may have initially been doing it from the wings he is becoming bolder as are his followers
While there have always been party politics with one party trying to undo the achievements of the other, we have never seen this play out to the degree it did during the last administration. Instead of there being an atmosphere of running the country in a way that benefited it’s people, of providing a sense of a government that was in service to the nation it governed, it became about gaining the most power and glory at the expense of the opposite side.
With the culmination of the Capitol riot, there was no need to watch reruns of Game of Thrones. We had our own version playing out in real time right here.
Many of us had hoped that Trump would retire quietly to his resort home in Florida or anywhere out of the spotlight and away from politics. But even if he had, the lessons he’d taught his party, and his followers would have altered the landscape of our nation. He left behind a shadow, one that encompasses his narcissistic entitlement that tainted everything it touched.
We have new faces on the same ridiculous yet dangerous Trump tactics such as Georgia freshman Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene who held a press conference to announce that she had filed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the first morning he took office. She then co-sponsored bills to fully fund Trump’s wall, establish English as the official language of the U. S. and defund all federal gun control enforcement and regulation. She also holds her own Town Hall Meetings to push ahead her (or Trump’s) agenda.
What Trump has unfortunately left behind is an alternate reality where fake news and “alternative facts” have become a way of life for many and part of our lexicon. He modeled behavior that Republicans now use to derail nominees just because they were nominated by a Democratic President, holding the government hostage and preventing Biden’s ability to fully govern. It’s as if a parallel world has been created where many Republicans feel they can do as they wish including declaring anything Biden wants to accomplish unconstitutional and refusing to follow whatever is passed by his administration.
But what the previous administration left the most of was fear. Fear that our country has been ruptured in a way that will take a united effort to heal. Yet we aren’t united. While that word remains as part of the name of our nation it no longer seems to apply to us.
We have clearly forgotten our own history. There was another time when states decided that the federal government wasn’t representing their interests. It lead to one of the bloodiest wars in American history and left devastated, disenfranchised citizens who were not much better off, while destroying the economy of half of the country, something that many states still haven’t fully recovered from.
With the raising of state’s rights in two states so far, with others likely to follow, could we again be marching again towards a time when states attempt to dictate to the Federal government and if unsuccessful put succession back on the table?
My greatest fear is that should succession ever be seen as a viable option, we will have committed to a path that cannot end on a peaceful solution. The saying, “He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it,” could not be more applicable than it is today. I only hope that we are able to remember before it is too late.