courtesy of Associated Press
by Matt Gouras
Republicans enthused by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s recent tough talk on wolves are getting closer to using an ancient “nullification” doctrine to disregard the federal law protecting endangered and threatened species – a plan the governor quickly dismissed as “off base.”
Excited tea party politics in the Legislature have spawned increasing belief in Thomas Jefferson’s late 18th-century “nullification” idea that aims to give states the ultimate say in constitutional matters and let them ban certain federal laws in their borders. Conservatives stoking anti-federal government sentiment are not dissuaded by the legal scholars who say the notion runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution that considers federal law “the supreme law of the land.”
Republicans running the Montana House used their big majority Saturday to endorse nullification of the federal Endangered Species Act in Montana with a 61-39 vote – even though dispatching with the act would cost Montana roughly $1 billion in federal funds that comes with strings attached.
Schweitzer, a Democrat, quickly warned the lawmakers he doesn’t like their idea – even though just days earlier he encouraged ranchers in northern Montana to shoot wolves that harass their livestock and defiantly said state agents may kill packs of endangered wolves.