Sunday, March 05, 2023

Small: state sovereignty, government accountability, warrant protection

State sovereignty, government accountability, warrant protection
By Jonathan Small

A state’s citizens have the right to self-government. They also have the right to hold government officials accountable.

Most Oklahomans support both concepts. But they are under attack via a proposed federal regulation related to declaring a “public health emergency.”

Fortunately, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is pushing back.

On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated a rule defining the term “public health emergency.” Three definitions in the proposed rule were tethered to information from, and determinations by, the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a lawsuit, Oklahoma and Texas argue the rule therefore involves an unlawful delegation of U.S. or state authority “to foreign nations or international organizations.”

Ceding state sovereignty to a foreign entity is bad enough, but the lawsuit also notes that indirectly giving power to the WHO is especially troubling since “the WHO was undeniably subject to politically based manipulation in its handling of the COVID pandemic, making it a particularly untrustworthy repository for delegation of United States sovereignty.”

In a release, Drummond noted the WHO’s “many missteps during the pandemic” and said its “poor management, lack of accountability and alarming ties to the Chinese communist government render it less than credible.”

So not only would Oklahomans be losing power under the proposed federal regulations, they would be losing power to a foreign organization that has proven it can’t be trusted.

The two states’ attorneys general noted a “core aspect of sovereignty is that the authority to govern is derived from the people governed.” When power is instead given to an international organization, the tie to the people is severed.

“These limits matter because unlawful delegations outside the federal government undermine accountability for executive decisions,” the Oklahoma-and-Texas complaint stated. “When federal officers make executive decisions, the President can hold officers responsible for those decisions, and voters can in turn hold the President responsible for those decisions. Delegating the decision outside the executive branch allows the President and his officers to disclaim responsibility for important policy decisions, effectively rendering the key decisionmakers beyond the reach of the voting public.”

It’s not that state or federal regulators are infallible. Through the years citizens have seen much evidence to dispel that notion. But when state regulators mess up, Oklahomans can demand change through elections, if nothing else. But we can’t vote out employees or leadership at the World Health Organization.

Thus, ceding power to the WHO increases the likelihood our local citizens will suffer much longer, and without reason, under regulations that fail to achieve their objective or that violate citizens’ basic rights.

Oklahomans must control their own destiny through state and federal elections. The HHS regulation tries to strip Oklahomans of that authority, and it’s welcome news AG Drummond is leading the state in making a stand in court.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


Post a Comment

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at! Your opinion is appreciated!