Trouble is brewing between Kansas and Attorney General Eric Holder. Kansas legislators recently passed a law that made it illegal for the federal government – or anyone else, for that matter – to enforce federal gun control laws. Holder responded by calling the move unconstitutional.
Unsurprisingly, Holder’s argument relies on the power of the federal government. He wrote in a letter to Governor Sam Brownback, “In purporting to override federal law and to criminalize the official acts of federal officers, [the law] directly conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional. Federal officers who are responsible for enforcing federal laws and regulations in order to maintain public safety cannot be forced to choose between the risk of a criminal prosecution by a state and the continued performance of their federal duties.”
Right now the ball is in the court of Kansas legislators. Holder promised the Kansas governor that the federal government would go about business as usual, effectively ignoring the law because “Federal officers […] cannot be forced to choose between the risk of a criminal prosecution by a state and the continued performance of their federal duties.”
If Kansas lawmakers stick to their guns, then Holder will “take all appropriate action, including litigation if necessary” in order to maintain the federal government’s supremacy as the top dog.
Holder’s letter of warning might come off as a bit oppressive, but the Constitution is quite clear on this issue. The Supremacy Clause reads, “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.”
Of course, state legislators and gun rights advocates might argue that the federal government should take a closer look at the Constitution, namely the Second Amendment.
That’s a separate issue, though. Regardless of whether or not federal gun control regulations are unconstitutional, Kansas’ attempt to rebel against the federal government will likely end with a failed court battle. Very few courts would rule against the federal government in a Supremacy Clause dispute.
Source: Washington Times