an independent Tea Party group in DuPage County, IL
Federalism: Case for Reinvigorating State's Rights
There is an ongoing battle over the proper size and role of the federal government, especially as it relates to conflicts with state governments over legislative authority. Conservatives believe that state and local governments should be empowered to handle local issues such as healthcare, education, immigration, and many other social and economic laws.
Original Constitutional Roles
There is little question that the current role of the federal government far exceeds anything ever imagined by the founders and has clearly taken over many roles originally designated to individual states.
The founding fathers, through the U.S. Constitution, sought to limit the possibility of a strong centralized government and in fact gave the federal government a very limited list of responsibilities. Simplified, the founders thought that the federal government should handle issues that it would be difficult or unreasonable for states to handle such as the maintenance of military and defense operations, negotiating with foreign countries, creating currency, and regulating commerce with foreign countries. Ideally, individual states would then handle all most matters that they reasonably could. The founders even went further in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights to prevent the federal government from grabbing too much power.
Benefits of Stronger State Governments
One of the clear benefits of a weaker federal government and stronger state governments is that the needs of each individual state are more easily managed. Alaska, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Florida are all very different states with very different needs, populations, and values.
A law that may make sense in New York might make little sense in Alabama. For example: Some states have determined it is necessary to prohibit the use of fireworks due to an environment that is highly susceptible to wild fires. Other states have no such problems and have laws that allow fireworks. It would not be valuable for the federal government to make one standardized law for all states prohibiting fireworks when only a handful of states need such a law in place. State control also empowers states to make tough decisions for their own well-being rather than hope that the federal government will see the states’ problem as a priority.
A strong state government also empowers citizens in two ways. First, state governments are far more responsive to the needs of the residents of their state. If important issues are not addressed, then voters can hold elections and vote in people they feel are better suited to handle the problems. However, if an issue is only important to one state and the federal government has authority over that issue, then they have little influence to get the change they seek as they are but a small part of a larger electorate. Second, empowered state governments also allow individuals to choose the state that best fit their own personal values. Families and individuals are able to choose states that either have no or low income taxes, or states with higher ones. They can opt for states with weak or strong guns laws, with restrictions on marriage or without them, and so on. Some people may prefer to live in a state that offers a wide range of government programs and services, others may not. But just as the free market allows individuals to pick and choose products or services they like, so to can they choose a state that best fits their lifestyle. An over-reaching federal government limits this option.
Continue reading full article at http://usconservatives.about.com/od/conservativepolitics101/a/The-C...
Arizona: Senate panel votes to declare Obama executive action on guns unenforceable
By: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services February 16, 2016 , 2:35 pm
A Senate panel voted to declare Tuesday that the latest executive action on guns taken by President Obama is not enforceable in Arizona.
The Senate Committee on Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility voted to declare that a presidential action that is inconsistent with the federal and state Constitutions is unlawful “and is not recognized by the state.”
It also bars public employees from enforcing, administering or cooperating with such actions. And individuals who believe some government worker is ignoring that prohibition would have the right to sue.
The vote on SB1452 was unanimous, with the two Democrats on the panel absent. The measure now needs Senate approval, where it might provoke some debate.
Read more: http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2016/02/16/senate-panel-votes-to-dec...
Arizona moves to expand school choice through direct funding
Academic highlight: State standing and United States v. Texas
Next Monday the Court will hear argument in United States v. Texas, in which Texas and twenty-five other states are challenging the Obama administration’s initiatives deferring removal of millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet one of the most important issues in the case – whether Texas has standing to challenge these initiatives – has nothing to do with immigration law. The question of when and whether states have standing to sue the United States to challenge executive branch enforcement policies has cropped up frequently over the last decade in cases concerning federal environmental policies, the Affordable Care Act, and federal disaster relief, among others. This case gives the Court an opportunity to settle questions about the role of the states (and thus the courts) in monitoring federal law enforcement policies.
States Take on Federal Asset Forfeiture Program
Last month we reported that the Feds restarted a program that helps local police get around state restrictions on asset forfeiture. Today, some states have taken steps to close this massive federal loophole.
Heed Reed: Goldwater Institute’s Guideposts for Amending City Sign Codes
By Jared Blanchard and Adi Dynar
Heed Reed downloadable PDF.pdf (5.3 MB)
City officials across the country are wondering: is my city code unconstitutional? That's a good question to ask because Reed v. Town of Gilbert has changed the game.1 In that 2015 decision, the United States Supreme Court made it clear that restricting signs based on their content violates the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unfortunately, a quick look around the state shows that Arizona municipalities have either failed to revise their sign codes in accordance with Reed, or have failed to do so properly.
The purpose of this policy report is to provide Arizona cities and towns with a guide to revising their sign codes in ways that both respect the constitutional rights of Arizonans and avoid the possibility of costly litigation.
Reed involved an ordinance in Gilbert, Arizona, that, like other municipalities in the state, regulated outdoor signs in different ways “based on the type of information they convey.”2 Gilbert’s code prohibited outdoor signs without a permit but exempted 23 categories of signs from this requirement, including signs that were labeled as “Ideological Signs,” “Political Signs,” and—specifically at issue in the Reed case—“Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event.” In other words, Gilbert’s code effectively singled out signs displayed by a church that advertised the time and location of their Sunday services and imposed stricter restrictions on them than on other signs.3 Because the code imposed “more stringent restrictions” on temporary directional signs than on other types of signs, citizens challenging the constitutionality of the restrictions argued that they were content-based regulations of speech that could not survive the “strict scrutiny” test applied in free speech cases.
Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of judicial review, and courts use it when determining whether a law violates freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or other “fundamental” constitutional rights. Read more at Goldwater Institute