Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tin foil is all the rage: HCR 2024

In every session of the Legislature we see one or more "resolutions" (HCRs and SCRs) and "memorials" (HCMs and SCMs), collectively called "odd bills", introduced in addition to substantiative law. The Resolutions often but not always create a ballot measure. Most are outlets for legislators' hobby-horse concerns--this year we see one declaring undocumented aliens to be trespassing, calling for passage of the (expired) Equal Rights Amendment, ending the Clean Elections program (and maintaining the same "taxpayer money" language which tanked the last effort to do so), lowering the state voting age to sixteen, and repealing 2006's Proposition 207. Unremarkable all around with at most two or three exceptions.

One, HCR 2024 caught my eye due to inclusion in Korwin's "Page Nine" newsletter. I had seen rumors on the Internet of resolutions affirming "state sovereignty", even heard about these from acquaintances of more populist tendency, but thought them to be the product of citizens' committees, the usual stuff from those who either forgot to figure out how change is actually effected or know how but choose to do differently anyway. But I was incorrect: these are legislative resolutions all around.

On the one hand, it's cute, for lack of a better word, for a populist movement to have developed around federalism, a position concerning the structure of government, instead of a sense of entitlement ("Free health care!" as in "Free beer!") or a desire to stick it to one's (homosexual, Mexican, or fill in the blank _______) neighbors. On the other, it's difficult to see the point, and for legislators to indulge the popular fervor with a bill diverts people toward effete activity.

The AZ Legislature affirms the doctrine of enumerated powers, calls for an end to unfunded mandates and Federal laws threatening either civil and criminal penalties or withholding of highway funds for noncompliance. So what? Will the state police arrest Federal employees the bill's sponsors deem to be acting outside the enumerated powers, or will Arizona sue the Feds? Either way, a question of constitutional interpretation will end up in Federal court. And without the sort of change in mainstream legal scholarship that preceded the Heller RKBA decision, the federalists don't stand a chance.

But populism was never really about having strategy, was it? Put on tin-foil hats to keep the moon rays out, and wave HCR 2024 like an amulet to ward off post-NLRB v Jones & Laughlin Steel Federal devils.

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