GOP leads state's rights charge

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 26, 2011 - 9:19 PM
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Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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The "tenthers" are at it again at the Legislature.

A group of House Republicans who tried in 2010 to revive the notion that a state can "nullify" federal law -- an idea previously thought buried in the 19th century with 620,000 Civil War dead -- have taken a new tack.

This time, they're pushing a resolution calling on Congress to call a constitutional convention to consider an amendment to "permit the repeal of any federal law or regulation by vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures."

The move is again led by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. As a resolution, it would bypass Gov. Mark Dayton if passed and go directly to Congress.

This idea springs from efforts around the country to invoke state's rights and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution -- hence the label "tenther" -- to block federal law, particularly the 2010 health care reform legislation.

The new version relies on Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which describes how a constitutional convention would be called. The Minnesota House resolution says the convention would have the "limited purpose" of sending the amendment specified in the resolution to the states for ratification.

But Article V says nothing about prescribing the convention's actions once in session. What might come out of such a gathering is anyone's guess.

That's one good reason to reject this latest move, even though its cosponsors include House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean.

Here's another: The state that was the first to volunteer troops to President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago this month, and that suffered huge losses at Gettysburg, ought to think twice about inviting a latter-day rise of state's rights at the expense of national union.

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.

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