A bill making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly seeks to restore the state’s sovereignty by establishing a process for the nullification of unconstitutional federal actions.
HB0726 and companion SB1092 sponsored by Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) and Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), respectively, is officially titled “Restoring State Sovereignty Through Nullification Act.”
The legislation would be one of the strongest and most comprehensive nullification laws in the country, according to non-partisan, educational and action organization The John Birch Society that promotes less government, more responsibility and a better world.
The 12-page bill includes a preface that re-states or summarizes relevant portions of the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions that all power is inherent in the people, federal powers are limited to those that are enumerated and that those powers are separated both horizontally and vertically.
The horizontal separation of powers in the U.S. constitution vested in the three separate branches of the federal government – legislative, executive and judicial – are reviewed in the bill, in part, to make the point that there is only one method of lawmaking and that federal executive orders, federal agency rules and federal court opinions are not laws and represent a usurpation of powers.
The vertical, and more important, separation of powers came about with the creation of the inferior federal government by the superior states, affirms the bill and its House sponsor during his presentation to the House Public Service Subcommittee last week.
Both Hulsey and his bill cite several examples of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that any federal action that exceeds the vertical separation of powers is void.
“Every state has a natural right and duty in cases not within the authority of the constitution to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of powers by others within their own state boundaries.” Hulsey instructed the House subcommittee members about the remedy set out by the founders for federal overreach.
Hulsey also advised that his bill does not force the legislature to nullify anything. Rather, it defines and sets out the process for five ways of nullification.
In addition to the governor and state courts being authorized to nullify unconstitutional actions, any member of the Tennessee General Assembly can introduce a bill of nullification. That bill can be debated but will not be subject to passage in committee and will proceed to the floor of each house and will become effective immediately upon enactment.
“Based on the very first words of the Tennessee constitution that says all power is inherent in the people,” Hulsey explained, are two alternative ways to begin the nullification process.
A petition for nullification may be submitted to the Speaker of the House by any combination of ten counties and municipalities or 2,000 registered voters, with not less than 25 voters per county in a bundled batch. Once the petitioners have been validated, the Speaker of the House will introduce a bill and follow the same legislative process.
If a federal action is found to be unconstitutional, the action would be prohibited from enforcement by any state or local government agency and no funds could be used to enforce it.
“I know that the governor has flagged this bill and you’ve gotten visits from really good people, really nice people,” acknowledged Hulsey to some laughter from his House colleagues.
“They’re good folks,” Hulsey continued, “and they’re worried because they do a good job, and they do good work, and they’re worried that we’ll lose federal money if we even talk about this.”
“I gotta remind you, you and I stood up on that House floor over there a few weeks ago and we raised up our hand and we swore to 7 million people in this state. We swore not that we would rake in all the federal money we could get. We swore that we would always defend the unalienable rights of Tennessee people by defending and upholding the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. We should not be for sale. I want to tell you that deep in my soul, I have a conviction that is deep seated. I believe that if state legislatures in this country do not stand up and hold the federal government to obey the Constitution of the United States, we could very easily lose this Republic. That’s what this bill does. There you have it,” Hulsey concluded.
When the subcommittee went out of session and expected to hear from Valerie Yancey, Senior Legislative Liaison with the governor’s office, she begged off.
“I think I will live to fight another day. Thank you,” Yancey chuckled as she walked away from the podium without making a case against Hulsey’s bill.
HB0726 passed out of the House Public Service Subcommittee on a voice vote, with the only obvious no vote coming from Chair Iris Rudder (R-Winchester). The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the House State Government Committee at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15.
SB1092 is on the Senate State and Local Government Committee calendar of Tuesday, March 14 at 10:30 a.m.
The video of Rep. Hulsey presenting HB0726 to the House Public Service Subcommittee can be watched here beginning at the 6:40 mark.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter with The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Tennessee Star.
11 Thoughts to “Proposed Legislation Restores Tennessee’s Sovereignty Through Nullification”
Very well stated and an excellent constitutional argument. The old saying “a strong fence builds a good neighbor” simply reiterates the rights held by each party. In this case, the federal and the state government. Enactment of the law as proposed would stop the leftist mandates like abortion, the infusion of divisive and racist directives foisted on the people of other states. I didn’t vote nor could I vote for someone like Bernie Sanders and do not want his vote pandering programs dumped on us.
To Steve A
WELCOME TO TENNESSEE
William: Excellent question. It shows the conflicts starting at the global level; UN vs nationalists countries. Then we come to America that seems to be divided between left and right, then we get to Tennessee with the cities (mostly leftist) vs the rural population (conservative). It begs the question, where do you draw the line between letting other people dictate what you are allowed to do vs what you believe are your rights, which are based on a biblical upbringing guided by the Constitution of the United States.
Which brings us to this question; who’s ideology is correct? Do I believe that I should give up my right to own firearms for the defense of myself and my family? I don’t think so. Should I allow the government decide if I should get a vaccination that has killed more people than the disease it was supposed to prevent? Again….that’s not going to happen.
Never in my lifetime has the government of our Nation been so adamant in forcing a leftist ideology down our throats. As the “founding Fathers” (I know leftists hate that term, but too bad) believed when they wrote the Constitution, the States should decide how they serve their residents. Not the other way around. I left the socialist republic of Vermont to move to Conservative Tennessee, I say to liberal/progressive/socialist…..If you don’t like the political climate, get the hell out of this State and move to a liberal state with like minded people. By staying here and continuing to try and force your leftist BS on conservative people you are promoting the division that is tearing country apart.
I am very much in favor of this Bill. I hope everyone emails or calls their State Representatives & Senators & ask them to vote for HB 0726 &
This is a huge step toward preventing the Federal Govt from ordering Mandates in a CRISIS again.
I believe evil powers are planning the next Crisis. Maybe a banking crisis.
We need more legislators like Sen. Bowling, Rep. Hulsey and Sen. Niceley. These people are statesmen not politicians. If this bill does not get passed (along with several other bills to protect Tennesseans sponsored by Hulsey and Niceley) it only proves we have a lot of Democrats in Tennessean that deceived the voters who thought they were voting for a conservative Republican.
The concept of this bill is right on target for TN and all the others that want to honor the Constitution and the Republic that our country was founded on!
Steve, how do we get Tennessee’s cities like Nashville, et al. to nullify the Tennessee Legislature’s infringement on local governance. The State Legislature and the Governor are acting like George Orwell’s Big Sister/Big Brother!
Thank you, Rep Hulsey! That was an incredible speech and thank you for standing up for us. We are with you and sure hope this bill gets passed into law.
A rep who actually believes in the US and Tennessee constitutions. Now if some of the others will grow some then Tennessee may be on its way to telling the feds to shove it when they attempt to overreach into the state’s business. Go get ’em.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! The sooner red states start planning for the separation from the traitorous federal government the better!
Wow! That was such a moving and powerful speech. Thank you Rep Hulsey!