It seems Mississippi Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, is out to prove an election-year point by appealing to the most extreme fringe of the far right.
Since the start of the 2011 session, the chairman of Mississippi's Senate Judiciary A Committee has brought forth several tea-soaked bills that reek of partisan pandering and paranoia contrived by right-wing media. Some of the more egregious ones include SB 2179, which essentially replicates Arizona's SB 1070.
Another dubiously xenophobic race-baiting measure authored by Fillingane includes SB 2255, which forces providers of international monetary wire transfers to levy a tax that goes toward financing the construction of a border wall on the U.S./Mexico line, instead of, say, the drastically underfunded Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Fillingane also attempts to reinforce the patently false narrative of Christian oppression in public schools with SB 2101, the so-called "Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act of 2011." Although children are free to pray in public schools whenever they please, this bill subtly implies that the civil liberties of students in an overwhelmingly Christian state are under attack.
The icing is SB 2224, a bold appeal to the "tenther" vote. If passed, this legislation would effectively create a six-member House and Senate panel, called the "Restoring the Tenth Amendment Committee," with the explicit job of pointing out any federal law or "unfunded mandate" they deem to be "unconstitutional."
Fillingane makes no bones about which "unconstitutional" laws his proposed committee would focus on: "This definition shall specifically include legislation relating to health care, financial reform, and gun control, or any other legislation not provided for or sanctioned by the Constitution of Mississippi or the Constitution of the United States," he writes in the bill.
I'm sure Sen. Fillingane wouldn't use the term "secession," but states choosing to ignore federal law carry out the same intent as seceding. Besides, the mere attempt to dismiss existing federal law is unconstitutional, so says the Supremacy Clause in Article 6, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made ... the supreme law of the land."
The U.S. Constitution refutes the tenthers yet again in the Privileges and Immunities clause in the 14th Amendment: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
Progressives, be warned: The tea virus is seeping into the halls of our statehouse this year. Mississippians thirsty for real solutions to hemorrhaging jobs, rapacious income inequality, declining public health and lackluster public education should focus on electing leaders that act in the interests of working families, not in the interests of Fox News viewers.
Carl Gibson is a 23-year-old Methodist preacher's son from Kentucky and a former MPB reporter. His most recent venture is the Gibson Group, a lobbying firm.