Not long after the November 2020 election, it seemed federalism in America was finished. Not only had the state legislatures in 2020 rolled over to the governors on the lockdowns and mask mandates, but Republican legislatures folded faster than overcooked pasta when it came to addressing the fraud in President Donald Trump’s election. In Georgia and Arizona, governments stood aside or willingly pitched in to ensure that Joe Biden “won” their states. Courts did nothing, whiffing on dozens of fraud suits.
I thought federalism was finished. But the old line from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” comes to mind. “I’m not quite dead yet.”
Just in the last two months, somnambulant state legislatures shook themselves out of their stupor and began to act like, well, . . . legislatures. Georgia passed an election reform bill that, while far from perfect, addresses some of the loopholes that permitted the fraud that handed the state to Joe Biden.
- The Texas Senate has passed a bill blocking big tech from censoring residents over political views and encouraged Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to sue any social media companies that violate the new legislation. Social media companies will be required to be transparent about how they monitor content, explaining why content is removed, and establishing an appeals process. Whether this would require fairness—i.e., banning liberals’ hate speech as much as they ban conservatives for using “fraud” in the context of the election—remains to be seen.
- Thirteen states have sued the Biden administration over “egregious” provisions in the China Virus relief bill, including prohibitions against cutting taxes if the state has accepted any relief from the federal government. States correctly claim this is unconstitutional.
- The Governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, said in a tweet that President Joe Biden “can keep your mask mandate.” He said the people of Alaska would decide for themselves how to live.
- Kansas lawmakers likewise ended their governor's mask mandate.
- The Arizona Senate has fought and won a long battle with the corrupt Arizona Board of Supervisors over an audit of the 2020 election. First, the Board refused an audit, and then it was required by a court to submit to an audit, then the Board fought to use Dominion-related companies to conduct the audit. Finally, the Senate defeated the Board and will use its own companies to conduct the audit. In a snitty response, the Board of Supervisors said that they could conduct the audit—but not at the Board facility and asked where the Senate wanted all the ballots shipped. The Arizona legislature has been unflappable despite such antics.
- Election integrity bills have been introduced in 47 states (some with no hope of passage, but at least the legislators woke up). Some 361 voter integrity bills have been introduced across the country, a 43% increase over February.
- Georgia’s legislature, of course, has already passed a voter integrity measure and is being attacked from all sides. Corporations such as Delta Airlines and Apple have criticized the bill, and Major League Baseball has pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. The problem here is that all these same voices exploded in fury when Georgia passed the “beating heart bill” in 2019. Hollywood threatened a boycott. Instead, when the China Virus hit, Hollywood found that one of the only places movies could be filmed was in . . . Georgia! Mainstays of filming, including Ohio and New Mexico (not to mention California) were locked down by their governors. Suddenly, no one in Hollywood worried about filming in a state with a heartbeat bill. With the Delta Airlines criticism of the voter integrity law, the Georgia House voted to tax jet fuel. That bill has yet to be passed by the Georgia Senate, however.
- In non-election-related issues, the states are also on the move. Wyoming’s House just improved its Constitutional Carry law, and the Senate appears ready to pass the law as well.
- Iowa, meanwhile, has adopted Constitutional Carry laws.
- Florida governor Ron DeSantis has already said he would fight any “travel passports” to other states related to the China Virus. He also banned all Florida businesses from requiring vaccine passports in an executive order.
- The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Democrat Governor Tony Evans’ mask mandate. It also ruled—too late to help President Trump—that the China Virus did not exempt voters from proving their identity.
The upshot of all of these developments is that while neither courts, nor governors, nor legislatures were willing to step up at the moment of crisis to disallow the fraudulent election of Joe Biden, they are quite willing to do their jobs when the spotlight is off. It was always asking a great deal of any state legislature to reject the elector slate. By design, legislatures are not the “assault troops” and by nature are slow, deliberative, even slothful. Courts, on the other hand, try to feign a non-partisan character. All in all, though, the machinery of federalism acts as if it got sudden lubrication and is now starting to turn, however slowly.