Arizona a leader in Obama’s defining legal issue - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

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Arizona a leader in Obama’s defining legal issue

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Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:00 pm

You asked, and yes, there is something you can do. But, it’ll take extra oomph to fight off the Fed’s power grab. You never thought you’d become politically active. You’re busy taking care of your families and embracing gifts of American citizenship, but all that is threatened now.

In response, state’s rights are resurfacing; coming to the forefront for a dusting off. Our visionary forefathers knew federalist laws would come in handy, just about now. In fact, Clint Bolick, litigation director for the Goldwater Institute, tells us, “Federalism will be the defining legal issue in the Obama era.” The good news: “The U.S. Supreme Court is the most pro-federalism court in our lifetimes.”

Now, you know, but it won’t happen without citizen’s aggressive response against a Goliath that prints its own money at a whim and trades favors for votes. Time is short, key players urgently encourage states to be aggressive.

Interestingly, Arizona is emerging as a leader in this matter. Now, it’s not that our conservative Legislature has a sophisticated game plan in place, but, along with nearly a dozen other states, Arizona is beginning to flex its arsenal of rights to block the federal reach.

This is where we are. Last year, Arizona rejected the Fed’s Real ID program, which would create national standards for driver’s licenses and identification. And, just recently, our lawmakers approved three initiatives to amend the state constitution, measures which go to the people in November 2010.

One will protect the rights of Arizona to determine its own, best health care system, the second is designed to give the secret ballot constitutional protection. That one, of course, comes in light of the evil, (yes evil), card check movement, which unions hope to push through Congress.

And, the third would prohibit racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting, even when they are allowed under federal law.

Author Michael S. Greve, the director of the Federalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute ( envisions possibilities in state responses. He counsels:  “Federalism needs a constituency in order to reestablish constitutional constraints.” He points to examples in the ‘60s of citizen passion, which successfully pushed civil and women’s rights into federal courts.

The constitutionalist even has a name for the constituency: he borrows it from political analyst and controversial activist Grover Norquist. It would be, “Leave-Us-Alone” coalition.

Greve suggests that those in units of commonality, such as tax limitations, school choice, gun rights, property rights, health and voting rights, on and on – combine goals and resources to force issues into the U.S. Supreme Court.

He says: “The prospect of a federalist revival has come from being unthinkable to being plausible. That alone is grounds for hope.” Bolick would agree, calling Arizona’s measures part of a “federalism shield” to block “federal over-reaching.”

Arizona Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Gray (R) also sees that hope: “By coming out in front, we can give momentum to other states so perhaps they can follow. We would like to be the initiator of the ground swell from states.”

With a Republican governor who’s still figuring out where she stands in her own party, and a Democrat Attorney General, who anticipates winning her office, the Legislature is in need of a ground swell.

The Tea Party “swells” are a good start, but require sustained momentum and inspired leadership. We’ll see if conservative Arizonans are visionary enough; angry enough, and have essential staying power. Or will they just wait for someone else to do it?


Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchorwoman who lives in the East Valley. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached by e-mail at


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