Mississippi has resisted federal laws as far back as the Civil War and during the civil rights era. During the 1950s and ’60s, a state agency called the Sovereignty Commission spied on people believed to be sympathetic to racial equality. The agency was dismantled in the late 1970s.
Some critics compare the proposal by Chism and Smith to an attempt to rekindle the Sovereignty Commission.
“It’s absolutely the most horrendous idea that has ever come before this august body,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. “It’s awful. It is wrongheaded. It is anti-New Testament. It is political fodder for the right and borderline stupid.”
Rep. Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, said he sees the bill as part of a trend of defiance toward federal authority. “I think much of it is because we have an African-American president,” Buck said.
“I think it is outrageous,” Buck said. “In my view, it is taking us back to the pre-civil rights era.”
Chism said the bill is not an attempt to roll back civil rights advances. He also said it is not an attempt to revive the Sovereignty Commission.
“That was an ugly past,” he said. “It ain’t got nothing to do with that.”
Smith did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The Central Mississippi Tea Party said in a news release in December that it wants state lawmakers this year to “re-establish limited federal involvement in Mississippi.”