PHOENIX - If the federal government wants to lock up U.S. citizens without trial it should not count on Arizona to cooperate, the state House announced Thursday.
Lawmakers also voted to have the United Nations butt out of trying to affect Arizona laws and policies. And the House agreed to have the state take the first steps to recognize privately minted gold and silver coins as legal tender in anticipation of the collapse of the dollar.
Underlying all these actions is the argument that Arizona is a sovereign state, and the votes stake out a position to defend that sovereignty.
The first part of HB 2573 deals with two sections of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which give President Obama the authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force" to detain certain people without trial. That includes not only those who planned or aided in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but anyone who "substantially supported al-Qaida, the Taliban or associated forces."
It includes U.S. citizens and provides for military trials.
Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, said states work with the federal government all the time to implement federal law, which he said makes it necessary for the Legislature, which sets policy, to spell out when such cooperation will be withheld.
Seel acknowledged he has no evidence Arizona is in any way helping the federal government detain U.S. citizens. But he said the legislation remains necessary.
"Every public officer is required to uphold the Constitution not only of the United States or, in our case, the state of Arizona as well," he said. Seel said this legislation "best reflects preserving, where possible, the individual civil liberties."
While no one debated that section of the measure, there was significant opposition, largely from Democrats - to the other part, which says state and local governments cannot recognize the United Nations or any of its declarations as legal authority here.
"Fundamentally, what this language points to is to make sure the federal government does not infringe on the civil liberties of the individuals of this state," Seel said. That includes the resolutions of the United Nations, including the 1992 Rio Declaration on environment and development, as well as any future resolutions.
But House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said there's nothing to fear.
For example, he said one provision of the Rio Declaration says human beings are at the center of development. Another says countries have a sovereign right to exploit their own resources.
At one point Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, suggested this part of the legislation, which already has been approved by the Senate, was part of the agenda of the "black helicopter caucus," a derogatory phrase used by those who poke fun at individuals who fear a national or international military force taking control.
But Seel cited another section of the Rio Declaration that says environmental protection must be an integral part of sustainable development. He said that means considering issues from a global versus local impact standpoint. Seel said he finds that "offensive."
Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said she sees the measure as affirming U.S. and Arizona sovereignty.
"I can't imagine anyone in this room who would be a proponent of us ceding that authority to the United Nations for any reason," he said.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said nothing in the legislation keeps Arizona from adopting environmental standards or anything that is similar to what the U.N. wants.
"It says that we are not subservient to the U.N., and the U.N. does not control the United States or any of its political subdivisions or states or their political subdivisions," he said.
The measure on coins is based on arguments that Arizona needs to be prepared to let businesses recognize gold and silver as legal tender should the need arise.
During legislative hearings, supporters of SB 1439 said the value of the dollar cannot be counted on. But they said precious metals have a value that has withstood all types of economic cycles.
The U.S. Constitution bars states from minting their own coins. But supporters say this does not preclude states from recognizing the value of coins that are produced by private mints.
Nothing in the measure requires businesses to accept the coins.
Both measures need Senate approval.