By Pat Shannan
North Dakota has opened a new front in the battle against federal meddling. This time the state’s lawmakers are taking direct shots at not only the current administration but all executive orders issued by past administrations.
N.D.’s H.B. 1428 is currently pending in the state Legislature. It is designed to give state legislators the power to suspend orders implemented unless the orders have been upheld by Congress.
“We don’t believe in governing by executive order,” said State Representative Bob Skarphol (R), speaking for himself and other state legislators. “There are checks and balances ingrained into the government for a reason, and these should be followed.”
Skarphol further asserted that the N.D. Legislature would not allow its state’s police departments to enforce some of the proposed federal gun laws, should they be imposed.
According to Skarphol, a line was drawn following the recent harsh threats from Vice President Joe Biden, who warned that President Barack Obama could institute gun control via executive order. This prompted concerns of new federal regulations being forced upon the Peace Garden State.
The debate over gun control in N.D. spilled into discussion on other issues such as Environmental Protection Agency interventions and federal drilling regulations that have upset locals.
N.D.’s pending bill may be moot, however, as federal laws require Congress to weigh in on national emergencies.
Former United States Representative Dan Hamburg (D-Calif.) stated in October 2012, “Congress and the judiciary, as well as public opinion, can restrain the executive [branch] regarding emergency powers, but nothing of the sort has occurred.”
According to the National Emergencies Act, which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 14, 1976, Congress is required to review emergencies declared by presidents. Specifically, “not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, and not later than the end of each six-month period thereafter that such emergency continues, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated.”
The next question is, which of the executive orders would be tied to “emergency powers”—thereby requiring congressional review twice a year?
On September 18, 2001, The Washington Times reported, “Simply by proclaiming a national emergency on Friday, President Bush activated some 500 dormant legal provisions, including those allowing him to impose censorship and martial law.”
Can Attorney General Eric Holder make a case that America is still resisting foreign invasion more than a decade after the attacks of 9-11?
“Congress has failed to obey its own law, a fact that casts doubt on the legality of the state of emergency,” said Hamburg.
Under the powers delegated by many emergency statutes, the president may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communications, regulate the operation of private enterprise and restrict travel, all of which amounts to unrestrained control of the lives of all citizens.
N.D. will have none of it, though.
“It’s a serious issue with us,” Skarphol said. “If our president wants to circumvent Congress, then we’ll see it the same way as if our governor wants to circumvent us.”
Pat Shannan is an AFP contributing editor and the author of several best-selling videos and books.