Whether it’s correctly called a movement, a backlash or political theater, state declarations of their rights — or in some cases denunciations of federal authority, amounting to the same thing — are on a roll.
Some legal scholars say the new states’ rights drive has more smoke than fire, but for lawmakers, just taking a stand can be important enough.
In most cases, conservative anxiety over federal authority is fueling the impulse, with the Tea Party movement or its members in the backdrop or forefront. Mr. Herrod in Utah said that he had spoken at Tea Party rallies, for example, but that his efforts, and those of the Patrick Henry Caucus, were not directly connected to the Tea Partiers.
And in some cases, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, the politics of states’ rights are veering left. Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, for example — none of them known as conservative bastions — are considering bills that would authorize, or require, governors to recall or take control of National Guard troops, asserting that federal calls to active duty have exceeded federal authority.
“Everything we’ve tried to keep the federal government confined to rational limits has been a failure, an utter, unrelenting failure — so why not try something else?” said Thomas E. Woods Jr., a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a nonprofit group in Auburn, Ala., that researches what it calls “the scholarship of liberty.”
And while some efforts do seem headed for a direct conflict with federal laws or the Constitution, others are premised on the idea that federal courts have misinterpreted the Constitution in the federal government’s favor.
And at the Tenth Amendment Center, the group’s founder, Michael Boldin, said he thought states that had bucked federal authority over the last decade by legalizing medical marijuana, even as federal law held all marijuana use and possession to be illegal, had set the template in some ways for the effort now. And those states, Mr. Boldin said, were essentially validated in their efforts last fall when the Justice Department said it would no longer make medical marijuana a priority in the states were it was legal.
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