Skip to content

States’ Rights Update: WY and the 10th; MI and the 2nd

The had been reporting that Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal (D) transmitted a memo to his State’s Legislative Management Council on July 28 to join with other States in passing a 10th Amendment resolution:

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal today transmitted the following memorandum and proposed resolution on state sovereignty to the Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council. 
(h/t Mike Johnson,

Freudenthal, a Democrat, was previously a US attorney for the Clinton administration, and is currently serving his 2nd term as Governor of Wyoming.  He endorsed Barack Obama for president and is commonly referred to as one of the most popular governors in the country.


To: Management Council Members
From: Dave Freudenthal, Governor
Date: July 28, 2009
Re: Sovereignty Resolution

As you know, individual states have been adopting Sovereignty Resolutions over the past few years.  Such resolutions have been considered by the Wyoming Legislature over the years as well. Representative Illoway is working on one for this session.

The attached version expands slightly on the versions currently circulating.  The resolution includes a list of specific federal laws and a reference to the idea that retaining lands in federal ownership runs afoul of the “equal footing” doctrine.  I am enclosing a possible resolution for your consideration.  Clearly this is ultimately a legislative prerogative.

From time to time we all wonder whether sending resolutions to Washington, DC really does any good.  On the other hand, it’s nice to at least get our view on the record.

See the referenced link for the drafted language.

In an attempt to further its rights as a State and, more specifically, uphold the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, the great State of Michigan introduced its own Firearms Freedom Act on August 11:

Introduced in the Michigan House on August 11, 2009, the “Firearms Freedom Act” (HB-5232) seeks “to make certain findings regarding intrastate commerce; to prohibit federal regulation of firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition involved purely in intrastate commerce in [the State of Michigan]; to provide for certain exceptions to federal regulation; and to establish certain manufacturing requirements.”

The bill was authored by Rep. Phillip Pavlov and currently has 44 co-sponsors.

While the HB5232’s title focuses on federal gun regulations, it has far more to do with the 10th Amendment’s limit on the power of the federal government.  It specifically states:

The regulation of intrastate commerce is vested in the states under amendments IX and X of the constitution of the United States, particularly if not expressly preempted by federal law. Congress has not expressly preempted state regulation of intrastate commerce pertaining to the manufacture on an intrastate basis of firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition.

Some supporters of the legislation say that a successful application of such a state-law would set a strong precedent and open the door for states to take their own positions on a wide range of activities that they see as not being authorized to the Federal Government by the Constitution.

Recently, the ATF chimed in with their views on such legislation, though advocates of firearms protections take a different view:

Advocates of these efforts say it doesn’t matter if the federal government disagrees, or even threatens states over funding, as they did recently with Oklahoma.  Gary Marbut, author of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, and founder of took this position in a recent interview with the Tenth Amendment Center:

“We’re not depending on permission from federal judges to be able to effectuate our state-made guns bills.  And, we’re working on other strategies to wrest essential and effective power from the federal government and put it where it belongs.

The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.

Among other areas where some States have a beef with federal laws include the health care front, where Arizona has recently passed a ballot initiative for 2010 where voters will decide whether nor not Arizonans must participate in a given health care plan.


Subscriptions -=- Twitter: @trsol -=- Facebook (TRSoL) -=- Facebook (Rightside Phil)