PHOENIX — A Phoenix business owner launched an initiative drive Monday designed to let Arizona voters override federal laws.
And John Biltis said he’s prepared to spend millions of dollars of his own money to put the issue on the November ballot and convince Arizonans to approve it.
The initiative would leave in place a provision in Arizona's constitution that says the federal Constitution "is the supreme law of the land.'' But it proposes to add language saying the federal document may not be violated by any government — including the federal government.
More to the point, it would allow Arizonans "to reject any federal action that they determine violates the United States Constitution.'' And they would be able to do this either through a vote of the state House and Senate with consent of the governor, or through a popular vote on a ballot measure.
Biltis, the sole owner of TAG Employer Services, said he takes literally the federal constitutional provisions that spell out that Congress has only the power specifically enumerated.
He said the erosion has been taking place since the 1930s. But Biltis said the pace is accelerating, citing the Patriot Act that gives the federal government more power to spy on individuals as well as the federal health care law now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
And then there are the smaller intrusions, "like what light bulbs you can have, what kind of toilet you can flush.''
"We're getting to a point that the federal government is so far beyond their constitutional limit that they don't even ask questions if something's constitutional any more,'' Biltis said. "Once you stop playing by the rules, it gets a little scary.''
Biltis acknowledged that his measure could amount to allowing one group of politicians — state lawmakers — to overrule the decisions of federal lawmakers who are just a different group of politicians. But he said there's nothing wrong with adding to the process.
"I don't think you can have enough checks and balances in a free society,'' Biltis said.
Nor does Biltis believe that being able to ask a federal court to intervene, as is happening with the federal health care law, is sufficient.
Biltis needs 259,213 valid signatures on petitions by July 5 to put the measure on the ballot. He already has retained a political consulting firm.