Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward announced legislation Monday that would ban the National Security Agency from operating in her state.
"I believe the number one priority for national security is defending and protecting the Constitution," the Republican who represents the Lake Havasu City area of northwest Arizona said in a statement. "Without that, the rest becomes irrelevant. 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."
Ward described her legislation as a preemptive strike.
"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. "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."
The Arizona legislation is modeled off a state-level template produced by the Tenth Amendment Center, which is urging Utah lawmakers to legislatively override a contract signed by the city of Bluffdale to provide water to the NSA's $1.5 billion Utah Data Center.
No Utah lawmaker has come forward to sponsor the legislation, but Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center says he has received private assurances from a legislator there - and in Washington state - that they will do so.
Maharrey's group is part of the OffNow coalition, which includes the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and state-level advocacy groups. The coalition is urging passage of state anti-NSA laws using the catchphrase "nullify the NSA."
Unlike pre-Civil War efforts to nullify federal law, Maharrey says these NSA bans may escape courtroom death because it's not federal law they're confronting.
He points to recent U.S. Supreme Court cases where justices said the federal government cannot force states to take affirmative action.
The so-called anti-commandeering doctrine was featured in the 2012 case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, where the court ruled states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid programs, and the 1997 case Printz v. U.S., where the court struck down provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
"[T]he Court's jurisprudence makes clear that the Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in the 1997 decision.
In Arizona, Ward's legislation would ban state and local officials from providing material support to the NSA - including water and electricity - make data collected by the NSA without a warrant inadmissible in state court, forbid public colleges from working with the NSA and levy sanctions against companies working with the electronic spy agency.
It's unclear how much support Ward's legislation has. The Arizona legislature is made up of 30 senators and 60 representatives.
At the federal level, the USA Freedom Act sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would significantly curtail the most controversial NSA practices made public in June by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Despite appearing poised to pass the House of Representatives, the bill has little chance of becoming law because of opposition from President Barack Obama, who supports the NSA's phone and Internet surveillance programs. Two federal courts are considering injunction requests as part of lawsuits against the surveillance.