By Zac Humphrey
JACKSON, Mississippi: Mississippi lawmakers are looking to revive a 50 year old commission that would seek to neutralize federal laws and regulations that are outside the powers granted to federal government by the United States Constitution.
Gary Chism, chair of the Mississippi House Insurance Committee (R) is the primary sponsor on this legislation, House Bill 490. He and fellow state representative Jeff Smith explain that this legislation is meant to enforce the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As drafted, the bill seeks to prohibit the federal government from infringing on constitutionally protected rights of the states and the citizens of the United States. It also reaffirms the sovereignty of Mississippi as laid out in the constitution adopted in 1890.
Steve Holland, a Democratic member of the Mississippi House has voice opposition to this bill, stating “it is political fodder for the right and borderline stupid.” A law professor from the University of Mississippi has said that this legislation is unconstitutional, citing the “supremacy clause” of the United States Constitution. Robert McElvane, a history professor from Millsaps College also had a negative opinion of the bill, stating that this bill will bring ridicule on the state of Mississippi.
This bill stems from the what is seen by some as the recent overextension of the federal government. With the passing of the federal health care law and the renewed debate on gun control, Chism and Smith felt that it was important to introduce this bill as a way to protect Mississippi’s sovereignty. The proposed Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Law would be tasked with reviewing all federal legislation and executive orders to make recommendations on those that should be neutralized due to their overreach. The committee would be made up of lieutenant governor, six state legislators appointed by him, the speaker of the House, and six legislators appointed by him for a total of 14 members.
This is nothing new for the state of Mississippi. After the Supreme Court ruled to desegregate public schools in the 1950s, Mississippi passed many laws admonishing the federal government. They created the Sovereignty Commission in 1956, which was made up of the governor, three citizens appointed by him, the lieutenant governor, two legislators appointed by him, the speaker of the House, three legislators appointed by him, and the attorney general. The Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the commission, saying that members of the executive branch could not serve on legislative committees.