If you loved the election of 2020, you’ll love H.R.1, the omnibus election transformation bill you’ve probably heard about already. It’s full of all sorts of wild federal mandates – bans on voter ID laws, prohibitions on cleaning voter rolls, requirements to accept late mail ballots and over 700 more pages of other commands that will lead to election chaos like we had in 2020.
It does something else you won’t hear much about: H.R. 1 nullifies the constitutional bargain of 1787 that made the United States possible. The supporters of H.R. 1 are the new secessionists – the ones who aim to undo the foundations of the Union.
States were given power to run their own elections for a reason. Decentralization of control over elections promotes individual liberty. No central authority can interfere and impose bad ideas and malevolent actions over states.
Power, the Founders believed, should be kept close to people.
The advocates of H.R. 1 don’t want power close to the people. They want it in Washington, D.C.
The advocates of H.R. 1 seek to undo the constitutional arrangement of 1787 where states have power over their elections. Nullifying the constitutional power of states over their own elections would be destabilizing. Some of the most precarious moments in our history came when actors sought to undo the constitutional arrangement.
Throughout American history, others thought they could nullify our constitutional order. Most recently, segregationists blocked schoolhouse doors and tried to stop the promises of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause from becoming real.
Those who support H.R. 1 support a convulsive shift of power from the states to the federal government. They want bureaucrats at the Justice Department micromanaging even where West Virginia, Texas, and Arizona put a polling place.
Before the Supreme Court put this power to sleep in the case of Shelby County vs. Holder (2013), I was at the Justice Department watching firsthand how this power was abused. Justice Department lawyers were approving or rejecting proposed Spanish language translators in Texas counties. DOJ got to approve or reject applicant resumes after the Texas officials made their picks for translators.
Federal bureaucrats approving who a Texas county could hire was insane, and only one tiny part of how Washington, D.C., would abuse power over state election rules under H.R. 1.
A large portion of the country already doesn’t trust Washington, D.C., and H.R. 1 gives them more reasons not to.
In the last few days, the raw partisanship of H.R. 1 supporters has been on full open display. Democrat House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn plainly said yesterday that it is critical to pass H.R. 1 in order to keep Democrats in power. Civil rights are only a sideshow, a ruse. At its core, H.R. 1 is designed to stamp out opposition.
No doubt, H.R. 1 has hundreds of pages of bad ideas and policies. No doubt, it is a partisan weapon masquerading as a civil rights law. But do not underestimate the deeper threat it poses to our nation.
The Union of 1787 was a bargain between states to form something greater than the sum of their parts. The United States itself owes its existence to this bargain. Central to the bargain was the core idea that each state can determine the origins of power within that state. The bargain required that the political process in each state is designed by representatives close to the people in state legislatures, not thousands of miles away by federal officials.
Without this part of the bargain, there would be no United States.
Now, the great nullification law – H.R. 1 – has passed the House by a handful of votes. It has arrived in the Senate, a body designed to give voice to the states and protect the bargain of 1787. The issue is whether the nullifiers will move H.R.1 through the Senate, or if those who aim to preserve the Constitution will be able to stop it.
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