Arizona senator moves to ban unconstitutional NSA spying

State senator seeks non-compliance, says 'the NSA isn't welcome in Arizona unless it follows the Constitution'. Photo: NSA

DALLAS, December 11th, 2013 – Arizona Sen. Kelli Ward announced Monday that she will act to ban the National Security Agency from unconstitutional operations in her state. Ward describes her nullification legislation, the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, as a pre-emptive strike against the embattled agency.

“While media attention is focused on a possible effort to shut off water to the NSA data center in Utah, I’m introducing the Arizona Fourth Amendment Protection Act to back our neighbors up,” Ward said, referencing actions by Utah’s privacy advocates to drive the agency from its borders.

“Just in case the NSA gets any ideas about moving south, I want them to know the NSA isn’t welcome in Arizona unless it follows the Constitution. There is no question that the NSA program, as it is now being run, violates the Fourth Amendment. This is a way to stop it.” 

The Tenth Amendment Center, an organization committed to the study and advocacy for state and individual sovereignty issues, provided the template legislation. The law, if passed, would prohibit state resources for NSA operations, ban local law enforcement from supporting the NSA’s operations in Arizona, invalidate evidence or data collected without a warrant and sanction companies cooperating with the agency.

Ward is confident support for the legislation will likely gain steam if constituents continue voicing their privacy concerns. “People are appalled with the thought that the federal government feels they have the jurisdiction to spy on us,” she said. “We should not be giving up our liberty, our freedom, our privacy in the name of security.”

Nullification actions are facilitated by the Tenth Amendment, which states that powers not delegated to the federal government via the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Non-compliance laws of this nature seek to prohibit state governmental collaboration with unconstitutional federal mandates. 

In an email to MintPress, the Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Maharrey affirmed that although states cannot physically prohibit the NSA from in-state operations, they can deny support for the agency’s activities. Because the NSA depends on such support, the law’s service denial makes it difficult for the agency to function within Arizona’s borders. 

“By doing this, the state will create obstructions and impediments to unconstitutional NSA spying,” Maharrey said. “Right now, all the talk is all about denying water to the NSA facility in Utah. That’s important, but we hope every state will stand up and say, ‘No!’ to the NSA.”

Arizona is no stranger to nullification, an increasingly popular political movement in the wake of an ever-expanding federal government. Last April, the state’s House joined 10 other states and dozens of counties in moving to nullifying the federal government’s kidnapping provisions enshrined in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA).

Other attempts include nullifying federal gun legislation and demanding the federal government return the state’s lands to local control. Arizona would be the first state to take such action against the NSA, but the attempt could serve as a template for other states.

Critics claim the move has no teeth, that the Supremacy Clause binds all states to every federal mandate, regardless of its constitutionality. Advocates for constitutional protections against federal power abuse disagree, citing both Supreme Court precedents and the philosophical roots of the constitution itself. As more states move to assert their constitutional rights, the debate over state’s rights will surely continue.

At the federal level, House Intelligence Committee leaders are battling with the House Judiciary Committee over which group should reform the National Security Agencies expansive, formerly secret state spy apparatus. Two of the primary players orchestrating reform, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) have consistently defended the NSA’s powers.

Their previous defense of the agency after successive, devastating leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden indicates their desire to reform key civil liberties infringements will be unlikely.


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Tiffany Madison

Tiffany is a writer and veteran's advocate. Her column focuses on civil liberties, veteran's issues and current events. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanymadisonFacebook or her website.

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