The Ohioans for Ohio amendment is intended to assert Ohio's state sovereignty and right to nullify unconstitutional federal laws; and to hold Ohio's elected officials accountable for enforcing Ohio's sovereignty. It is sure to be controversial, because for many Ohioans (and probably, the U.S. Supreme Court), it will appear to be a challenge to the Supremacy Clause in the U. S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2, which reads:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The legal basis for the Ohioans for Ohio amendment lies in the phrase "which shall be made in Pursuance thereof." A reasonably literal interpretation of that phrase strongly suggests that any laws that are patently unconstitutional (not being made "in Pursuance thereof") are null, void, and no law. This then brings up the central issue of nullification. Do the states have the right, as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison* asserted in 1797, to provide a check on the Supreme Court by nullifying unconstitutional federal laws within state boundaries? The Ohioans for Ohio amendment is careful to state that it does not apply to "any law, rule regulation, or mandate... not in contention with the prescribed authority granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States of America."
This proposal is much more concise than the amendment proposed in 2009 by the People's Constitutional Coalition, and actually comes close to the improvements I suggested to that amendment; but it still needs work. Tomorrow, I shall explain why.
Here is the text:
Be it resolved by the people of the state of Ohio,
(A) Declaration of State Sovereignty
The State of Ohio hereby claims its sovereignty, pursuant to the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and shall exercise self-determination and self-rule over its government, commerce, education, environment, and energy resources within its domain and within the interests of Ohio citizens and according to law, unconstrained of all foreign authorities, and not in contention with the prescribed authority granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States of America. Any law, rule, regulation, or mandate which is not compliant to the Ohio Constitution or the Constitution of the United States of America shall be deemed unconstitutional, null and void and without legal force or effect within Ohio.
(B) Enforcement of Constitutions
The Governor or Attorney General are hereby vested with the power to compel the Supreme Court of Ohio to submit a decision within thirty (30) days regarding the constitutionality of any Ohio law, rule, regulation, or mandate or any federal law, rule, regulation, or mandate, whenever it appears that said law rule, regulation, or mandate may not conform or be in compliance to the Ohio Constitution or the Constitution of the United States of America, respectively. The Governor and Attorney General, collectively have the authority to form a Constitutional Review Committee and to vest this committee with the power to compel the Supreme Court of Ohio for said decisions. All Ohio Citizens shall have legal standing in all Ohio courts and jurisdictions to challenge the constitutionality of any Ohio law, federal Law, and all government imposed rules, regulations, and mandates that directly affect them on the behalf of all Ohio Citizens. The Supreme Court of Ohio shall provide a process for such challenges which demonstrate viable Constitutional merit.
(C) Violation of Oath or Oaths
It shall be unlawful for any elected public officeholder to violate their oath or oaths in accordance with Section 7 of Article XV of the Ohio constitution. The Governor and Attorney General, collectively or individually, are hereby vested with the power to compel the Ohio General Assembly to invoke impeachment proceedings against such alleged offenders, in accordance with Section 23 of Article II of the Ohio constitution.
* Keep in mind that James Madison is known to history as the "Father of the Constitution" and one of its most fervent supporters in the ratification debates. He surely would have considered the intent of the Framers when writing it.