Next time some crackhead conservative brings up fiscal responsibility, bring a few of these up.
1. Anti-Sharia Laws
According to Mother Jones, five states have banned “Sharia law” and another 11 (!) are “working on it.” Aside from the fact that, for the non-crazy among us, there is no discrete legal code known as Sharia law, the other problems with these measures are the establishment and free exercise clauses of the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.
2. Abortion Bills Conflicting with Roe
Less humorous are a spate of anti-abortion bills that fly in the face of the Supreme Court's longstanding view that the Constitution grants a “right to privacy” pertaining to such matters as abortion. These are not designed merely to pander to the base, but to restrict abortions to a degree that they become effectively impossible to obtain.
Those pushing the bills understand that the pro-choice community is rightly apprehensive of trying these cases before a Supreme Court with five conservative Catholic justices. So, they are designed to put their opponents in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation; they can accept ever greater limits on women's access to reproductive health services, or they can try their luck in front of the Supreme Court and risk seeing Roe v. Wade overturned altogether.
3. Nullification Laws
We've seen truthers, birthers, deathers and then there are the tenthers, who believe that states can simply opt-out of any federal law that isn't explicitly included in the Constitution. They've used it to pass – or propose – laws opting out of everything from hate crimes legislation to health-care reform. Yes, they're partying like it's 1861!
4. States Regulating Immigration
Again, the courts have long held, under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, that when a state law conflicts with a federal law, the former is, in the words of Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority in a 2008 case, “without effect.” The federal government has argued, and won, a whole slew of cases based on federal immigration laws trumping competing legislation passed by the states.
In fact, as I noted last year, the courts have held that the government has exclusive domain over immigration law dating back to the 1880s. The National Immigration Law Center summarized those early decisions like this:
In a series of cases in the late nineteenth century upholding provisions of the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the Supreme Court described the federal immigration power in sweeping terms, as a plenary power not subject to normal judicial restraints. In subsequent decisions the Court has repeatedly confirmed Congress’s full and exclusive authority over immigration. State and local laws that attempt to regulate immigration violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and are therefore preempted by federal law.
5. Don't Say This or That Laws
Guess what? Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say, you have the right to free speech, “except for those living in the deep South.”
Yet Florida's legislature has passed a law barring physicians from asking patients if there is a firearm present in their home. An earlier version of the bill, subtly called “Don't Ask,” would have made it a felony, but that was apparently too crazy even for Florida.
Not to be outdone, the Tennessee Senate passed a law this week that “would forbid public school teachers and students in grades kindergarten through eight from discussing the fact that some people are gay.” The “Don't Say 'Gay'” law prompted George Takei, of Star Trek fame, to offer his own name to be used as a proxy.
6. Financial 'Martial Law'
Also in the less funny category is Michigan governor Rick Snyder's “financial martial law” legislation, which allows him to appoint “emergency financial managers” authorized to take over local municipalities. It empowers them, among other things, to “reject, modify, or terminate one or more terms and conditions of an existing collective bargaining agreement.”
Typical war on unions stuff, yet as Think Progress noted, it's also pretty obviously unconstitutional:
There’s a pretty serious problem with this power grab, however — invoking it would violate the Constitution. The Constitution forbids state laws “impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” This provision provides a robust limit on a state’s ability to dissolve contracts between the government and a private party. As the Supreme Court explained in United States Trust Co. v. New Jersey, state laws impairing such contracts must be “reasonable and necessary to serve an important public purpose.”
The consequences of Snyder’s actions could be stark. If a state is free to break contracts whenever they feel like it, than no one will agree to do business with the state. Investors will refuse to buy the state’s bonds, and state contractors will demand all payments upfront out of fear that the state will accept their work and then tear up the contract requiring the workers to be paid. Creditors will charge the state enormous interest rates to secure against the risk that the state will just waive its hand and make its obligation to repay go away.
Full article here.