- An Arizona state legislative committee has approved a
resolution calling for the dissolution of the federal government in the
event that it abolishes the U.S. Constitution, declares martial law or
confiscates firearms -- scenarios some say are not unrealistic. Critics
of the resolution, however, call the measure a "total waste of time."
Karen Johnson, Arizona state representative
Rep. Karen Johnson, a Mesa Republican and chair of the House Committee
on Federal Mandates and States' Rights, authored the resolution which the
committee approved 3-2. Only the committee's vice-chair, Republican Rep.
Gail Griffin, abstained from voting.
- Specifically, House Concurrent Resolution 2034 outlines
the origin of the United States, emphasizing the sovereignty of the states
and their constitutional right to "establish a new federal government
for themselves by following the precedent established by Article VII, Constitution
of the United States, in which nine of the existing thirteen states dissolved
the existing Union under the Articles of Confederation and automatically
superceded the Articles."
- It also articulates constitutional violations committed
by the federal government as justification for the measure, saying "...
the fifty current principals, or signatories, to the [Constitution] have
done well in honoring and obeying it, yet the federal agent has, for decades,
violated it in both word and spirit. The many violations of the Constitution
of the United States by the federal government include disposing of federal
property without the approval of Congress, usurping jurisdiction from the
states in such matters as abortion and firearms rights and seeking control
of public lands within state borders," says the resolution.
- By adopting HRC 2034, Arizona states its intention to
dissolve the current federal government with the approval of 34 other states
and, in essence, start over. Participating states would re-ratify and re-establish
the present Constitution "as the charter for the formation of a new
federal government, to be followed by the election of a new Congress and
President and the reorganization of a new judiciary," in keeping with
the original intent of the "founding fathers." Individual members
of the military will return to their respective states and report to the
governor until a new president is elected.
- In addition, each state will assume a prorated portion
of the national debt and will own all land within its borders. After the
new government is formed, the remaining 15 states will be permitted to
join the revised union upon application, as was the case with the original
- A three-year veteran to the Arizona Legislature, Johnson
told the Sierra Times the resolution is "insurance policy."
- "If the federal government declares martial law
or attempts to confiscate guns, the states shouldn't have to put up with
that," she said.
- Joseph Stumph, well-known author and historian, testified
in favor of the resolution at the hearing.
- "We're proposing that if things get as bad as they
could get, that these states won't allow the federal government to put
us into a one-world government," said Stumph, who is publishing a
similar proposal in his home state of Utah. "I don't expect we'll
get 35 states to sign on. The American people are not educated enough on
this yet," he added.
- The resolution was introduced Jan. 26, and now needs
to be approved by the Arizona House. Should HRC 2034 successfully complete
the legislative process, it will appear on the November ballot for voter
approval. But one legislator does not think the measure will be taken seriously.
Bill Brotherton, a Democrat member of Johnson's committee, called efforts
to promote the bill a "total waste of time."
- "Obviously ... one of the more important issues
we have is mental health in this state," Brotherton said mockingly.
"I wonder if we are going to have a bill on the grassy knoll next
to decide who shot Kennedy."
- Johnson said she was asked by several Maricopa County
residents to look into preventing the federal government from asserting
power not authorized by the federal and state Constitutions. To Johnson,
the resolution is a watered down, limited version of the "Ultimatum
Resolution," written and promoted by Stump.
- Johnson said HRC 2034 was introduced in response to recent
actions by the Clinton administration regarding the Grand Canyon. On a
recent trip to the landmark, President Clinton declared three new national
monuments, threatening the property and livelihood of ranchers in the region.
- Fears of martial law and firearm confiscation are mere
"conspiracy theories" to some, but in light of the elaborate
preparations government made for potential Y2K problems -- including a
ready-to-sign executive order giving Clinton the equivalent of dictatorial
powers -- "these fears have become real possibilities," according
- Johnson also made it clear that the action of possible
secession should only take place if the federal government suspends or
violates the Constitution without approval from the state.
- "There may be times when the nation may be at war,
and such steps may need to be taken. But the states should have a backup
plan if necessary," she said.
- Arizona is not alone in its fears. Johnson noted other
legislators in other states are considering taking similar steps.
- Despite her current success with HRC 2034, Johnson is
not relying solely on non-binding resolutions to ensure state sovereignty.
She has been joined by a coalition of six other Arizona state representatives,
private ranchers and other states' legislators in a lawsuit filed against
the federal government.
- The lawsuit is an attempt to reverse creation of the
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, which covers more than 1 million
acres of land, roughly the same amount as Grand Canyon National Park. The
group says national monument status will affect use and access to its private
property, which will be surrounded by the federal property.
- It also asks the court to find the 1906 Antiquities Act,
used to create the Parashant monument, unconstitutional. The coalition's
lawyer claims the president "has taken the act to the point of actually
abusing the rights of people in the West."
- The act gives presidents emergency authority to protect
threatened federal lands or "objects of historic and scientific interest,"
but lawyer Lana Marcussen said that in using the act for a non-emergency
case, the president has gone too far.
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