Tennessee lawmakers stepped to the front of the state sovereignty movement Tuesday, voting to enlist legislators from around the country to try to curb the power of the federal government.
A special committee met for the first time since the legislature overwhelmingly adopted a resolution in this year’s session demanding that the federal government recognize Tennessee’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
The sovereignty movement has become a cause célèbre of Tea Party activists opposing President Barack Obama, and Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) said Tennessee is taking the lead in calling on the federal government to back off the states.
Lynn, the sovereignty resolution’s main sponsor, said Alaska is the only other state to adopt such a measure so far. Lynn’s committee voted to send a letter inviting all states to meet to discuss how to force the federal government to “halt and reverse its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.”
“We really are leaders on this,” said Lynn, who is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mae Beavers.
A draft of the letter offered by Lynn gives no proposals for curtailing federal authority, but is filled with stirring rhetoric.
"The role of our American government has been blurred, bent and breached," it reads. "The rights endowed to us by our creator must be restored."
Just before the meeting began, Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) stepped in and asked whether the committee had seceded from the union yet. “I’m just joking,” she quickly added.
The session lacked much of the anticipated outrage over purported federal abuses of power.
Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) did say he heard on the radio that Obama is planning to help create a world bank to give money to Third World nations.
“I don’t know if that’s true or not, but they had some lord on the radio talking from Great Britain,” Ketron said. “That concerns me … That’s overreaching by the federal government.”