November 13, 2014—Elections have consequences, and those consequences rarely promote individual liberty. But one result unreported by much of the media should shock Americans into immediate action.
Most have heard of the continued success of states legalizing marijuana with Oregon and Alaska following the lead of Colorado and Washington. But an even bigger event took place in Arizona. Proposition 122, the Arizona Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions Amendment, passed. This codified in the state’s constitution the legal doctrine called “anti-commandeering,” the right of a state to not be forced by the feds to fund programs foisted upon it.
Not that it ever did, but now it really won’t matter what party is in control of Washington, D.C. The limits of federal government intrusion will be defined by states like Arizona acting within their 10th Amendment powers. Just as it has become all but impossible for the Drug Enforcement Administration to work in marijuana-permissive states, the same will one day be true of the U.S. Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration to come after states uncooperative on their preferred regulations.
It took years to get Prop 122 passed and its supporters aren’t going to slow down now. Jack Biltis spent over $1 million supporting this effort in 2012, but was unsuccessful in getting it on the ballot until 2014. Biltis sees this victory as a means to a greater end. “I have nothing personal to gain from this movement, other than the chance that my kids will grow up in an America as free as the one I knew,” he told the Tenth Amendment Center, an online hub for states’ rights activists.
This mechanism can be used to say “no” to the federal government as early as 2015, and in fact has always been an option for states. Arizona is just finding its own way to “exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are consistent with the Constitution” as Prop 122 reads.
All states have the Supreme Court on their side as long as their actions fall under the “anti-commandeering” principle. Preceding any power of the Supreme Court is the power states have tonullify. While nullification isn’t always embraced as it should be, “anti-commandeering” will be a great start for those wanting to downsize the presence of Washington, D.C. If marijuana is any indication, this trend of decentralization won’t stop anytime soon.
This fundamentally changes how politics works in America. As the federal government gets bigger and more unwieldy, the local level officials will be called upon to act as an intermediary. When people know the impact they can have through local action, new coalitions will form that challenge the crumbling establishment. The beauty of it is no two states have to be on the same page on any issue so long as they recognize their right to not cooperate with the feds.
Once a few states are pushing back on marijuana prohibition while others are doing the same with guns while still others are resisting surveillance powers, then the United States will be a stronger union for it. None of this could happen through Congress, no matter how many more elections there are.