Utah's New "Sovereignty Act" Will Overrule The Federal Government, Constitutional?

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024 - 10:00 PM

By Mish Shedlock of MishTalk

A bill recently signed into law in Utah sets up a process for the state to overrule or otherwise ignore federal rules and decisions. I post a musical tribute below. Can you guess it? And think about the constitutionality.

Utah State Capital, Image by Mish

Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act

Please consider the Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act.

  • Establishes a framework for the Legislature, by concurrent resolution, to prohibit the enforcement of a federal directive within the state by government officers if the Legislature determines the federal directive violates the principles of state sovereignty;
  • Describes the ways in which a federal directive violates the principles of state sovereignty; Limits the authority for requesting a concurrent resolution under the bill;
  • Requires the Legislature to consult with the attorney general regarding the potential impact of a concurrent resolution on litigation and to provide notice to representatives of tribal governments;

How to Overrule the Federal Government

CNN reports Utah’s New ‘Sovereignty Act’ Sets Up a Process to Overrule the Federal Government.

The Utah bill, introduced as the “Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act,” was signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox on January 31.

For its supporters, the law is another method of standing up to the federal government.

“Balancing power between state and federal sovereignty is an essential part of our constitutional system,” Gov. Cox said in a statement. “This legislation gives us another way to push back on federal overreach and maintain that balance.”

Yet the push may stand in conflict with the US Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause,” which states federal laws take precedence over state ones. Robert Keiter, a law professor at the University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law, said he was skeptical the Sovereignty Act was constitutional.

“This sends the message, and the Utah legislature is famous for sending messages of this sort, that it’s unhappy with the federal government. (And it’s) expressing that in a way that is constitutionally problematic,” he told CNN.

Utah Sen. Scott Sandall, who sponsored the Sovereignty Act, said he hoped the bill spreads to other states.

“I think any state should be looking at adopting this,” he told CNN in an interview. “Don’t you want a real organized way in your state to vet these things and look and say where the federal government is overreaching? No matter which party or which ideology you espouse, this could be helpful in any state, in my opinion.”

“Our attorneys have indicated to me that the process that’s in place is constitutional,” he said. “It doesn’t have a constitutional (issue) simply because it’s a process. Any kind of resolution may or may not be deemed constitutional.”

Yet he had certain policies in mind. In particular, he mentioned a dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency’s “good neighbor” rule, a regulation to cut down on smog and air pollution crossing state lines.

Utah has also been in a fight with the federal government over control of public lands regarding three national monuments, namely Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine. And as a heavily Republican state, the legislature has taken up national partisan positions, such as opposition to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.


I believe the answer depends on what you mean by the question “Is the Bill Constitutional?”

The process itself seems constitutional. But if the Supreme Court decides the Federal government has sovereignty, well guess what.

Texas Showdown, Supreme Court Lets Feds Cut Abbott’s Razor Wire

On January 22, I commented Texas Showdown, Supreme Court Lets Feds Cut Abbott’s Razor Wire

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the Biden Administration. Federal authorities will cut the razor wire and open the illegal immigration floodgates.

Effectively, the Utah law does nothing. Utah can choose to file a case against the Federal government, ignore Federal laws, etc.

But as with Texas, the US Supreme Court will decide. The same thing happened with a number of states attempting to keep Trump off the ballot.

Trump Disqualified From Ballot in Colorado

On December 19, I noted Trump Disqualified From 2024 Colorado Ballot, Supreme Court Challenge Coming

States have a right, albeit a foolish one, to attempt to disqualify Trump. But it’s foolish to think they will succeed.

Expect a Supreme Court Ruling Favor of Trump

On February 10, I commented Expect a Supreme Court Ruling 9-0 or 8-1 in Favor of Trump, Then What?

I expect good news for Trump next week, likely a unanimous ruling, on narrow grounds. Then what? That’s a very different subject. Trump has huge legal problems as I explain.

We still do not have a ruling, but there is no doubt which way it will roll.

Utah sent a signal that it may go for these kinds of cases. The surprising thing is how close the Texas case was.

But the bill passed by Utah does nothing in and of itself.

Utah has no rights to do anything it did not already have before, and that is ability to challenge the constitutionality of Federal mandates and Biden regulations.

Thus the bill is constitutional, but it does nothing in and of itself.

It’s a symbolic measure.