Mercifully, the bill died on a 4-4 vote, but first Sen. Brian Kelsey carried on a bizarre debate with a couple of crackpot witnesses who urged the legislature to ignore 200 years of Supreme Court decisions and exercise Tennessee’s fictional right to nullify federal laws.
One of them, a woman who identified herself only as Publius Huldah and wouldn’t give her real name, waved around a ragged copy of the Federalist Papers and went on a long rant for states’ rights.
“What question did the Civil War answer?” Kelsey, the committee’s chairman, asked the woman when she finally stopped talking.
“The question it answered is, whoever has the most power wins,” she said.
“And who had the most power?”
“Are you suggesting that because the North won that all the rest of us in the rest of the country must submit to everything the federal government does?” she replied.
“You’re very interesting,” Kelsey told her later.
With Sen. Stacey Campfield throwing a little hissy fit and trying to delay the inevitable, Kelsey finally forced the committee to vote on Beavers’ bill, which would have ordered the state’s sheriffs to arrest any federal agents who try to enforce federal firearms laws.
"This is a bill that says our individual sheriff’s deputies will go out and use deadly force to potentially shoot and kill federal authorities" for enforcing federal laws, Kelsey said.
Last week after another lengthy debate, the committee voted to ask the attorney general for his opinion on whether the bill is constitutional. It’s not, the AG replied quickly. Today, a representative of Gov. Bill Haslam told the committee he probably wouldn’t sign the bill if the legislature adopted it. He wouldn't veto it, mind you, but he'd let it become law without his signature. That's our Bold Bill!
Clueless as ever, Beavers took her defeat in stride, telling the senators that her bill inspired “the best debate we’ve ever had on the Constitution.”