James Madison once asserted that “in a republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Well, today, only executive power predominates, because federal and state executive agencies seem to be the only ones doing the legislating. As Joe Biden continues to pass sweeping “laws” unilaterally with no authority from Congress, the red states are the only even potential check on his abuse of power. It appears that the state of Oklahoma has now taken up the mantle as the second state to move to block these executive orders.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma House overwhelmingly passed a bill, HB 1236, that would grant the state’s attorney general and state legislature the authority to review the president’s executive orders to determine constitutionality. Specifically, the bill would authorize the legislature to recommend that the attorney general review any executive order, federal agency rule, or federal congressional action to determine whether the state should seek an exemption or declare it unconstitutional. If either the attorney general or the legislature, by concurrent resolution, declares the act unconstitutional, then all state and local officials and any publicly funded organization are prohibited from enforcing it.
The federal actions covered under this bill include any orders pertaining to health emergencies; the regulation of natural resources, agriculture, and land use; infringements upon the Second Amendment; the regulation of the financial sector as it relates to environmental, social, or governance standards, the regulation of education; the regulation of college or school sports; or any other powers reserved by the State of Oklahoma or the people of Oklahoma.
This bill is probably the single most direct and effective way of countering federal power-grabs. As written, it would potentially pave the way for the legislature to block Biden’s mask mandate, transgender agenda in school sports, and racially biased orders in finance and commerce, just to name a few.
Oklahoma’s House is now the second chamber to pass a state sovereignty bill against federal overreach. The North Dakota House passed a similar bill, HB 1282, earlier this month. However, that bill passed by a narrow margin, 51-43, with nearly 30 Republicans voting against it. The Oklahoma bill, on the other hand, was introduced by the speaker himself, Rep. Charles McCall, and passed 79-18 along party lines, which means it has a good chance of going to the governor’s desk.
A few minutes after passage of HB 1236, Rep. Jay Steagall introduced HR 1005, a resolution expressing the right of a state to defend the Constitution and intervene on behalf of the liberties of its citizens.
“Oklahoma hereby asserts sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers,” states the text of the resolution, which passed 80-14. “THAT this resolution shall serve notice to the federal government of our intent to maintain the balance of powers where the Constitution of the United States established it. THAT we intend to ensure that all federal government agencies and their agents and employees operating within the geographic boundaries of Oklahoma, or whose actions have an effect on the inhabitants, lands or waters of Oklahoma, shall operate within the confines of the original intent of the Constitution of the United States.”
In introducing the bill, Rep. Steagall, who is the chairman of the States Rights Committee, stated plainly the intent of the legislative effort this week. “I submit to you that it is the duty of the state to interpose between the central government’s abuse of power and the people in order to secure the authorities, rights, and liberties of the people, and that duty falls squarely on the shoulders of the state legislature.”
While so many conservatives are focused on Congress, many fail to see that the states are where the power resides. Republicans control both houses in 31 state legislatures, the majority of them with supermajorities. If every chamber were to mimic this legislation, there would be large swaths of the country free from the totalitarian edicts of the left, regardless of what happens in Washington.