Remember when you were back in middle school and some kid would throw down what she thought was a vicious insult, but in the process she completely misused a key word, and everybody ended up laughing at her behind her back?

That perfectly describes the situation Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts finds herself.

She serves as the butt of her own joke, and she doesn’t even realize it.

All year, Roberts has churned out snarky attacks on bills asserting state sovereignty in Arizona. She finds the idea that the Grand Canyon State might try to limit federal power downright looney and proponents of such action – i.e. the majority of Arizonans – uneducated rubes. Last week, she turned up the snark to 11 as she blasted bills that would end state cooperation with enforcement of federal EPA regulations, executive orders, and federal alphabet agency rules and regulations, along with legislation that would prohibit state enforcement of federal laws violating the right to keep and bear arms and a bill that would end implementation of Obamacare.

When in the course of Arizona events, it becomes necessary for our leaders to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with reality, and to assume among the powers of the earth, their right and obligation to land us on late-night comedy TV, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to kookiness.

Apparently, Roberts can’t find any federal action that goes too far, and she expresses shock and indignation that nobody seems concerned about Arizona’s war on the feds.

The Arizona House, led by Gen. Bob “Thorpedo” Thorpe, charged forth this week, essentially declaring our independence from the United States of America. Sadly, it was less a shot heard around the world than it was a quiet capitulation to crazy.

Roberts thinks opposition to monopoly government a bad thing.

“Kookery” she calls it.


After all doesn’t everybody know one-size-fits-all solutions dictated by politicians 2,200 miles away represents the best possible system of government?

Monopoly is great.

So, here’s the punchline.

James Madison qualifies as “kooky” under Roberts’ definition of the word.

“The Father of the Constitution” said states would take the exact approach to federal overreach currently underway in Arizona. Writing in Federalist 46, Madison advised “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a way to create “obstructions” to “unwarrantable” federal actions – and even unpopular “warrantable” actions.

You have to give Roberts credit. Calling the Father of the Constitution “crazy” is a pretty gutsy move.

And she gives us even more reasons to point and laugh.

Despite all her condescending, “I’m superior to you dumb simpletons” attitude, from a legal standpoint, Roberts has no idea what she’s talking about.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

“Still, I have to wonder how much this one will cost us, both in legal fees and punch lines.”

By this statement, it seems pretty clear Roberts not only considers Madison’s blueprint for dealing with federal overreach “kookery,” but also thinks it lacks any legal basis.

She couldn’t be more wrong.

The Arizona strategy is not only constitutional, it also rests on a rock-solid modern legal doctrine. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the principle that the states cannot be required to supply resources or manpower to help the federal government carry out its acts or programs.

Known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, the legal principle rests primarily on four Supreme Court opinions dating back to 1842. The 1996 case Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.

We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by-case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.

Apparently the majority of the Supreme Court qualifies as kooky too.

Fortunately, most Arizonans understand this basic lesson in American civics. While Roberts picked daisies out in left field, Arizona voters passed Prop. 122, a state constitutional amendment setting up a mechanism to fight federal overreach. The large number of bills that would end cooperation with federal government acts falling outside of its constitutionally prescribed limits stems from last year’s vote and represents the clear will of Arizonans. They don’t want want the political class in D.C. running their lives. They don’t want a bunch of pointy-headed bureaucrats telling them how to do things. They don’t want monopoly government centered inside the Beltway.

And they are doing something about it.

In all of this, Roberts got one thing right. This one did create a punch line.

And she’s it.

Mike Maharrey

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