GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst talks to a television reporter on Primary Day in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014.
Photo by Nati Harnik/AP

Joni Ernst’s ‘bottom line’: States can nullify laws


Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Iowa, said federal legislators are “overstepping bounds” by passing laws that states are considering “nullifying.”

However, states can’t legally nullify federal laws.

“Bottom line is, as a U.S. senator, why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? I mean, that’s bottom line: is our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws,” Ernst said last September at a forum held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. The Daily Beast recently obtained video footage from the event.

For more than 200 years, lawmakers at the federal level have acted against the 10th Amendment that grants rights to individual states, she added.

“We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators,” Ernst said. “We should not be passing laws as federal legislators, senators, or congressman that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Ernst, 44, is a state senator from rural southwest Iowa. She joined the Senate race last July, and won her state’s five-way Republican primary earlier this year in June. She is competing for a seat held for 30 years by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

Related: Joni Ernst: Punish ‘dictator’ president, maybe with impeachment

The congressional hopeful garnered national attention earlier this year with campaign advertisements that depict her castrating hogs and shooting a gun at “wasteful spending.” She also stirred controversy while speaking during a primary debate when she called the May shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara both an “absolute tragedy” and an “accident.”

Ernst will face off against Democratic nominee U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley in the Nov. 4 general election.

Iowa, Joni Ernst and Women in Politics

Joni Ernst's 'bottom line': States can nullify laws