Skip to content

Restore federalism by letting states be a check against overreaching federal policies

Enzi introduces repeal amendment to Constitution

March 14, 2014

The Founding Fathers envisioned states as a check against the federal government. Unfortunately, states have few options to respond to the thousands of rules, regulations and unfunded mandates the federal government passes every year. To combat these burdens, and to provide a check against federal overreach, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a resolution Thursday that would amend the Constitution and give states the authority to repeal any federal law or regulation.

Enzi’s repeal amendment would restore the balance between states and the federal government and give states a stronger voice in shaping national policy as much of what the federal government does ultimately falls upon the shoulders of state and local governments. Every year, states face thousands of new rules and regulations from the federal bureaucracy. The amendment would provide states with the ability to act in the best interest of their citizens.

“When you look at the policies coming out of Washington, the burden of enacting and complying with what Congress or some agency dictates falls on the states. In spite of this fact, the states have few options when directives go bad other than the court system. Telling policy makers that they’ve crossed the line and are trampling on their rights as self-governing entities, often falls on deaf ears,” said Enzi. “My amendment would give states a powerful voice in national debates by acting as vital check against an expanding federal government. This amendment is not about Republican or Democrat policies, but about burdens on states that are so damaging and costly, that Republican and Democrat led states would come together and say ‘Enough is enough’.”

The amendment would allow for federal laws and regulations to be repealed if two-thirds of the states—34 in total—pass resolutions to do so under the new authority. The two-thirds requirement acts as a safeguard to ensure that any repeal has a true bipartisan consensus and that the impact of truly burdensome federal laws and regulations are not left to the courts.

The proposed constitutional amendment reads: “Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several States, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”

Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, are co-sponsors of the repeal amendment.