I’m just a country lawyer and do not understand a lot of the legal stuff going on with some of the conflicts between certain states and the federal government. It appears that the principle of federal preemption, namely, that federal law trumps state law when there is a conflict, is no longer being followed.
For example, the states of Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana within certain parameters. The trouble, legally speaking, is that marijuana is categorized as a controlled substance per federal law, which means the folks in Colorado and Washington who rely on the legality of using marijuana under state law are nevertheless breaking federal law. So now the federal government, headed by President Obama, has to decide whether to look the other way concerning violation of federal drug laws.
Another option is to have the United States Attorney General sue those states, like he did Arizona for passing a law about checking people there to see whether they are U.S. citizens. That law was offensive to the administration, but it is less clear to me that Arizona is in conflict with federal law by asking if federal immigration laws are being followed by persons in Arizona. You’d think that would help the federal government by identifying those in the country in violation of immigration requirements. Arizona is not in direct defiance of federal law, it just went a step further by seeking to determine compliance with federal law.
It seems analogous to have the federal government sue the states that still make possession of marijuana illegal for having state criminal laws that make it a crime to do what is already a crime under federal controlled substance laws. Huh? I’m lost, but I’m just a country lawyer. U.S. Attorney General Holder could explain the distinction to me, probably.
Apparently, it was important to President Obama to tell Arizona to refrain from helping identify violation of federal immigration laws. State marijuana laws that violate federal law are okay just like violation of immigration law is okay. This disinterest in enforcing federal laws has created a legal environment that could be advantageous to those of us who are burdened by another federal law.
Since I live in Colorado, and since it has gotten away with legalizing something under state law that is illegal under federal law, I have an idea about making something illegal under state law that is legally required under federal law. Flip the concept.
As you are painfully aware, especially this time of year, the Internal Revenue Code is a federal law that requires citizens to pay income taxes. I don’t smoke marijuana but I do pay taxes. It would benefit me more if my state government would make it illegal in Colorado to pay federal income taxes. States’ rights!