Occasionally, in the interests of making a point, someone does something so guaranteed to cause them a world of trouble that you wonder if they’re a closet masochist, or if they’ve just lost their mind. This week, that someone is Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS). I can’t say I’ve been a fan of his since his office indirectly made a student write him an apology letter for tweeting about him with the hashtag #heblowsalot. He gets credit for his work on the conflict minerals file. But not on this file, by a long shot.
Last week, Brownback signed into law a statute that would prevent the federal government from enforcing certain gun laws if they infringe on the manufacture and sale of guns within state borders. Not only that, any federal official – except for U.S. Marshals or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents – would be charged with a felony for attempting to enforce said laws. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped put the statute together, says the Interstate Commerce Clause is enough to make this constitutional.
Naturally, Attorney General Eric Holder is basing his counter-attack on the Supremacy Clause. Let’s take a look at both of them:
The Congress shall have power . . . to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes . . .
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
Now, if you’re a (second half of the) Second Amendment literalist, you’ll probably argue that gun control laws are by nature not made “in pursuance” of the Constitution. But let’s focus on the Commerce Clause. United States v. Lopez is arguably the most famous gun-related Supreme Court decision in which this clause was a factor; without giving too much away, if you disagree with Brownback and Kobach, you probably won’t be happy with the outcome of that case.
So it could turn out that “made in Kansas” gun manufacture and sale ultimately falls under state purview. But the idea that the same will apply to felony charges against federal employees doing their jobs is insane. Perhaps this is a gimmick to force the Supreme Court to rule at least partly in Brownback and Kobach’s favor (because you know this is going to the Supreme Court). Or maybe it’s just insane.
Speaking of insane: Glenn Beck at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention. “All of mankind” isn’t that worried, but thanks for the shout-out.