Round Two for Tennessee’s SB250

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2ndAmendmentOn Wednesday, SB250 testimony continued from last week’s committee hearing on the 19th. Last week’s committee meeting was delayed for an opinion from the State’s Attorney General. See citings from the Attorney General in the link to his opinion.

“Tennessee lacks authority to render them ineffective within its borders, for the States are not “free to nullify for their own people the legislative decisions that Congress has made on behalf of all the People.” While the Bills themselves declare that certain federal firearms regulations are unconstitutional as, for example, by exceeding the scope of the commerce power, see SB250 § 2, the responsibility for that determination rests with the judiciary, not a state legislature. Absent such a judicial determination—and SB250 lists “judicial opinions” among the “federal action” that it proscribes, SB § 1—federal law is effective in Tennessee. “If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery . . . .” “No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it”. Nor may a state legislature accomplish the nullification of federal firearms regulation indirectly, either by criminalizing the activities of federal officers or by criminalizing actions of state citizens, such as firearm dealers, who have enforcement obligations under federal law, since to do so would make compliance with both federal and state regulations impossible. In either instance, the Bills’ provisions would directly threaten to frustrate federal policy objectives and to impair the ability of federal actors to carry them out. Consequently, the Bills violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.”

The committee meeting started off with Senator Kelsey talking about the history of nullification in a long drawn out speech that looked more like an effort to waste time than inform. After which, Senator Kelsey asked for speakers to be introduced in a testimony in favor of SB250.

Senator Beavers introduced the Tenth Amendment Center’s own, Mike Maharrey, up to the table. He first wanted to address the State’s Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr.

Mike Maharrey stated that he was in disagreement with the State’s Attorney General’s opinion since he didn’t agree that this bill violates the supremacy clause, or that every law the federal government comes up with is constitutional. Mike Maharrey said the Attorney General had come to the wrong conclusion since any unconstitutional law is not really a law. That all laws repugnant to the Constitution are void. The concept of the Court making itself supreme is in conflict with how the powers were delegated to the federal government. That checks even are placed on the Supreme Court. Both Jefferson and Madison insisted state legislatures DO have the authority to determine the constitutionality of a federal act.

After which Publius Huldah spoke on behalf of the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers.


Kelli Sladick is originally from Ohio. She is a veteran of the US Navy and holds two undergraduate and one graduate degree. Her current home is Nashville, Tennessee.

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