UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 20, 2009

STATES REDISCOVERING THE TENTH AMENDMENT

David M. Dickson, Washington Times - Worried the federal government is increasing its dominance over their affairs, several states are pursuing legislative action to assert their sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution in hopes of warding off demands from Washington on how to spend money or enact policy. The growing concerns even have a handful of governors questioning whether to accept federal stimulus money that comes with strings attached.

The sentiments to declare themselves legally independent from Washington have swept across as many as a dozen states, renewing a debate over so-called unfunded mandates that last raged in the 1990s. The states question whether the U.S. government can force states to take actions without paying for them or impose conditions on states if they accept certain federal funding.

"We are telling the federal government that we are a sovereign state and want to be treated as such. We are not a branch of the federal government," said Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges, who is leading an effort in her state to pass a resolution called "Sovereignty: the 10th Amendment." Ms. Burges was inspired to action by a pair of Bush administration initiatives: The No Child Left Behind education law of 2002 and the Real ID Act, a 2005 law that established national standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards. . .

The nearly $800 billion stimulus bill also has raised worries. Republican governors Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas expressed reservations this week about accepting their states' shares of the stimulus package because they are worried that the federal government will impose conditions on how it can be spent. . .

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