The Oklahoma state House has passed a bill that would allow the state attorney general and legislature to declare federal laws and executive orders issued under Democratic President Joe Biden as unconstitutional.
The bill, HB 1236, would allow the Oklahoma attorney general to review any executive orders, congressional laws or federal agency rules to see if they violate the U.S. Constitution. If the attorney general doesn’t oppose them, then the state legislature could do so through a majority vote.
The bill was approved last week through an 80-14 vote in the Republican-led state House. Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David has not publicly said whether she supports the measure, according to KOCO.
The bill’s author, Republican Representative Mark McBride, said that he created the bill not because of Biden’s political party but rather because of the high number of executive orders Biden has issued just one month into his presidency.
“I think this president has just taken a direct stab at Oklahoma,” McBride told The Oklahoman. Specifically, he said Biden’s executive orders and plans to champion green energy technology took aim at the state’s fossil fuel industry.
McBride’s bill is part of a larger push to assert the state’s sovereignty. On February 10, state Republican Representative Jay Steagall introduced a resolution, HR 1005, reasserting the state’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment.
The 10th Amendment says powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. However, the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause also states that federal law generally takes precedence over state laws and even state constitutions.
Nevertheless, Steagall has said he intends for the bill to stop federal overreach into Oklahoma. Simultaneously, House Republicans have revived the chamber’s State’s Rights Committee which also seeks to prevent federal orders from infringing on constitutional and states’ rights.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Emily Virgin has criticized HB 1236 as partisan and unrealistic.
“It’s interesting to me that the States’ Rights Committee only seems to exist when there’s a Democrat in the White House, and that these issues only come up when there’s a Democrat in the White House,” Virgin told The Oklahoman.
She added that courts, not state legislatures, typically take up challenges to federal laws and executive orders. She said HB 1236 itself may be unconstitutional and challenged in court, if it becomes law.
“We’re saying we have the power in this building to declare what Congress did unconstitutional. Folks, that’s not how it works,” Virgin told KOCO. “We don’t get to magically say in this building, ‘That’s unconstitutional, so we’re not going to follow federal law.’ That’s not how it works.”
Newsweek contacted David’s office for comment.