Aren’t States Required to Cooperate in Enforcing Federal Laws?

A:

No! Even the Supreme Court agrees that the federal government cannot compel states to enforce federal statutes.

In the 1997 case, Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court held that the federal government could not command state law enforcement authorities to conduct background checks on prospective handgun purchasers.

In the 1992 case, New York v. United States, the Court said that Congress couldn’t require states to enact specified waste disposal regulations.

In the 2012 case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that a significant expansion of Medicaid was not a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, as it would coerce states to either accept the expansion or risk losing existing Medicaid funding.

In each case, the Supreme Court made it quite clear that, in their opinion, the federal government cannot require the states to act, or even coerce them to act through a threat to cut funding.

The federal government cannot compel state agents to support or enforce federal gun laws.


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