Arizona Rounds Up Other States to Challenge Federal Government

It's all in an effort to defy the federal government on health care, gun regulation and even the regulation of endangered species.

By Julianne Hing Mar 11, 2011

It’s not just immigration. Now comes word that Arizona is trying to encourage other states to band together to defy the federal government on health care, gun regulation and even the regulation of endangered species. In Arizona’s very busy legislative season, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills to create interstate compacts, the Arizona Republic reported, double and triple the number that were introduced in each of the state’s most recent legislative sessions.

The bills have also suggested an interstate compact for a border fence and an initiative for Arizona to set up its own health care programs.

Most recently, Arizona announced it would attempt to create a state compact with other states that wanted to pass bills to deny citizenship to the children born to undocumented immigrants. Under the bill’s language, Arizona and other participating states would issue two kinds of birth certificates, one for the children with at least one permanent resident or naturalized citizen parent, and another set of certificates for the children of two undocumented immigrants.

Another bill would amend the Arizona state Constitution so that only those born to at least one U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent would be granted state citizenship. The Arizona Senate is set to consider both any day now. Both have been explicitly designed to trigger a Supreme Court fight to reinterpret the 14th Amendment.

When this legislative strategy was announced at the beginning of the year, Walter Dellinger, a law professor at Duke University and a former Solicitor General, said that state compacts were not uncommon, but were typically used to handle more mundane issues like garbage disposal, trade pacts and water rights. Interstate compacts must be also approved by Congress.

"[State compacts] have no more authority than individual states or a Congress of the United States to change the clear constitutional rule of citizenship," Dillenger said in January. "It simply seems in this context to be a distraction," referring to the states’ citizenship compact.

"It’s just an agreement that they enter into that they will all violate the Constitution of the United States together," said Dellinger.

Republican lawmakers say the state compacts are necessary because, in the words of state Sen. Sylvia Allen, "The states aren’t able to do anything anymore."

"We aren’t able to do the things we need to do for our citizens," Allen told the Arizona Republic.

In recent days Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has been traveling the state pushing her support for federalism. At this rate, secession can’t be very far behind.