House lawmakers file bills to push back against federal laws

A House resolution would lay claim to North Carolina's ability to "claim sovereignty" over powers not enumerated by the U.S. Constitution. Another bill would direct Attorney General Cooper to challenge the federal government's 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

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North Carolina Legislature Building (4x3)
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — A group of House lawmakers filed measures to push back against federal government rules they deem unconstitutional during a last-minute flurry of bill filings Tuesday.

Wednesday is the deadline for House members to file legislation that does not deal with tax or budget issues. Lawmakers filed 87 bills Tuesday. 

Two measures carry on a string of bills that confront how federal law applies in the state, including bills on firearms and public prayer.
House Resolution 617 expresses support the idea that North Carolina "should have the right to claim sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government or reserved to the people by the Constitution of the United States." 

That paraphrase of the Tenth Amendment is preceded by "whereas" language that complains "many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment" and that states are treated as subservient to the federal government. 

Sponsored by Reps. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, Mark Brody, R-Union, George Cleveland, R-Onslow, and Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, the measure is only a resolution, so it would not have the force of law. Also, it does not call for the state to take any action other than transmit a copy to Congress and the president asking them to stop acting in an unconstitutional manner.

Another bill, House Bill 619, filed by Speciale and Pittman, would direct Attorney General Roy Cooper to bring a lawsuit to determine whether certain sections of the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill are unconstitutional.

The bill specifically raises the question of whether the federal law allows for suspending rights of habeas corpus and trial by jury and would make it illegal for anyone in North Carolina to arrest, capture or kill anyone "under the law of war."

The 2012 federal bill has earned bipartisan misgivings and even President Barack Obama expressed concern about some of the sweeping powers it gave the government when he signed it.
The American Civil Liberties Union has called indefinite detention provisions in the bill dangerous. However, the fact-checking site Snopes gave mixed reviews to the claim the bill would allow the military to arrest U.S. citizens without charge or trial.

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