Earlier this week, the state House of Representatives approved a pro-gun-rights bill already passed by the state Senate. The measure now awaits action by Governor Butch Otter.
The published purpose of SB 1332, the Idaho Federal Firearm, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act, makes clear the intent of state lawmakers:
This legislation is to protect Idaho law enforcement officers from being directed, through federal orders, laws, rules, or regulations enacted or promulgated on or after January 1, 2014, to violate their oath of office and Idaho citizens' rights under the Idaho Constitution, Article 1, Section 11. This Constitutional provision disallows confiscation of firearms except those actually used in commission of a felony, and disallows other restrictions on a lawful citizen's right to own firearms and ammunition.
The State Affairs Committee,the listed author of the bill, was right to point out the state’s right to refuse to executive unconstitutional demands of the federal government. The authors understood that states are constitutionally, legally, and historically on solid ground when they hold these usurpations as null, void, and of no legal effect. That state governments have the power to take this tack with regard to unconstitutional acts of the federal government, the Founders were universally agreed, as I have explained in earlier articles.
In The Federalist, No. 33, Alexander Hamilton wrote:
But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.
He restated that principle in a later letter, No. 78:
There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.
James Madison, also writing in The Federalist Papers, recommended that state legislators, in order to prevent federal abridgment of fundamental liberties, should refuse “to co-operate with the officers of the Union.”
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