Sen. Sandall Proposing a Bill to Protect Utahns from Unconstitutional Federal Overreach

January 4, 2024

During the 2024 General Session, Sen. Scott Sandall is sponsoring a bill to defend Utah’s interests and stand up against unconstitutional federal policies and regulations that negatively impact the state. S.B. 57 Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act invokes the rights bestowed to states in the 10th Amendment under the U.S. Constitution to grant lawmakers the authority to reject federal action they deem unconstitutional unless ruled constitutional by the courts. Under the bill, the Legislature will have a legal path to restore the proper balance between the state and federal government when the executive branch bypasses the congressional legislative process.

“Far too often, we’ve seen the federal executive branch bypass the legislative process to enact policies that extend beyond its constitutionally given jurisdiction, frequently to the detriment of Utah’s citizens,” said Sen. Sandall. “This bill establishes a democratic framework we can utilize to defend Utahns against destructive regulations while still honoring the U.S. Constitution.”

The bill’s framework would reinforce Utah’s 10th Amendment rights to legislate in any area not explicitly reserved for the federal government.

“Utah is the best-managed state in the nation,” Sen. Sandall said. “Unlike the disorganization happening at the federal level, Utah’s legislative and executive branches know how to work together to get things done. We have a better insight into how we can help our citizens. It is our duty to protect Utahns against out-of-touch, damaging policies.”

“We respect the invaluable function of the federal government in our democracy, but under the U.S. Constitution, its power is supposed to be limited,” said President J. Stuart Adams. “Our goal is to restore the balance of power between the state and the federal government. We plan to use this legislation only in extreme cases where we believe a federal law will have devastating consequences to Utah.”

The bill has checks and balances to ensure due process and requires any proposed concurrent resolutions to abide by and respect the U.S. Constitution and the courts. Legislators can only sponsor and run a resolution to reject an unconstitutional federal action after receiving joint approval from the Senate President and House Speaker or two-thirds of the members in both the Senate and House. Once a resolution is introduced, it will go through the legislative process as any other proposed bill, including public committee meetings and floor debates. If passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by the governor, the state is no longer required to comply with the unconstitutional action unless the courts rule the federal regulations constitutional.

In 2022, Canada’s Alberta legislature passed similar legislation to protect Alberta’s interests by giving them a framework to push back against harmful federal policies and safeguard their provincial sovereignty. The Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act uses the same model to successfully and democratically defend Utah against federal overreach.

Utah lawmakers will consider the proposed bill during the 2024 General Session as it goes through the legislative process.


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