A Scottsdale millionaire has fallen short in his bid to amend the constitution to let Arizona voters overrule federal laws and rules.
A check of signatures on his initiative petitions by county election officials leaves the measure short of the 259,312 necessary to qualify for the November ballot.
The campaign had submitted about 283,000 names. A check of a random sample, however, found more than one out of every three to be invalid, whether because the signer was not registered to vote, illegible signatures or other factors.
But Jack Biltis, who organized and financed the campaign, said that, unlike the backers of an open primary measure whose petitions also came up short, he does not intend to sue.
"We didn't really want to run everyone through that,'' he said. " We thought that if we rightfully qualify, we rightfully qualify; if we don't, we don't.
The Arizona Constitution already says the federal Constitution "is the supreme law of the land.'' This measure would have added language saying that federal document may not be violated by any government -- including the federal government.
More to the point, it would have allowed Arizonans "to reject any federal action that they determine violates the United States Constitution." That could occur through a vote of the state House and Senate with consent of the governor.
But it also would have let that occur through a popular vote on a ballot measure, effectively allowing voters to decide which federal laws they feel infringe on Arizona's rights as a sovereign state.
Biltis, the owner of TAG Employer Services, said his main target has been the federal Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as ObamaCare. He maintains the plan is unconstitutional despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year to the contrary.
He has acknowledged spending about $1 million of his own cash in the unsuccessful bid to put the issue on the ballot. But he brushed aside a question of whether that money could have been better used to elect candidates who share his views.
"I don't consider it an either-or situation,'' he said, saying he is also contributing to various campaigns.
"I believe that the best hope for the country is to bring back the cause of federalism, bring back states' rights and have the states act as a natural check and balance against the federal government,'' he said.
Even with the failure of this initiative, voters will have a chance to weigh in on a related measure.
The Legislature agreed earlier this year to put a proposal on the November ballot to have Arizona declare its "sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries.'' Exempt would be tribal and military reservations.
Biltis said while he hopes that passes, he does not believe it will be enough and intends to try again in 2014. This time, he said, he will start gathering signatures earlier than three months before the filing deadline.