TENNESSEE, January 5, 2016–
President Barack Obama,
This week you have announced your plan to enforce unilateral, unconstitutional executive orders on gun control. Well, here in Tennessee, we aren’t buying it. You should note that when Congress refuses to act, it’s because the will of the people compel them to do so. That does not then give you the green light to usurp the legislative jurisdiction of Congress. Regardless, our Founding Fathers foresaw such an instance where the federal government may try to enforce laws that were unpopular with the people, whether those laws be constitutional or not, and they provided a blueprint of how to deal with such an issue.
In Federalist Paper #46, Father of the United States Constitution James Madison provided this blueprint for such a situation should it arise.
“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
Allow me to translate: Regardless of the federal government’s supremacy over the issue, and whether the actions taken be constitutional or not is irrelevant. The states have powerful means to oppose such actions at hand through legislative devices. In Tennessee, we put this blueprint into law just last Session by passing HB1341, which bars the State from providing material support to enforce federal gun control measures that contradict our state Constitution.
Your recently proposed executive orders rely heavily on the states to enforce. However, the states do not have to enforce them. In fact, even the Supreme Court has agreed with this position for more than 180 years. In Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), New York v. United States (1992), Printz v. United States (1997), and most recently NFIB v. Sibelius -Obamacare (2012), the Court held that the federal government cannot compel the state to enforce federal rules or laws regardless of whether or not the rule or law is constitutional.
Essentially, if the feds want to enforce the law, then they can come here and do it themselves. You and your friends on the Left often yell and scream while calling those who support this type of resistance to federal power “neo-confederates” and so on. However, your friends seem more than willing to practice resistance to federal power when it comes to Colorado’s marijuana operation, or California’s sanctuary cities, and you are more than willing to look the other way while it happens. Therefore, the State of Tennessee is more than willing to tell you Mr. President, if you want to enforce your unconstitutional executive orders… come on down to Rocky Top and do it yourself.