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Friday, July 02, 2004
UTAH DECLARES SOVEREIGNTY
By Herm Tupper
Amalgamated Press International Writer
SALT LAKE CITY--(API) Just one week after the United States handed limited sovereignty over to Iraq, legislators in Utah today voted by a slim margin to declare their own sovereignty. For politicians in the Beehive State, deeply suspicious of an overweening federal government, it seemed like a perfect solution.
"I wouldn't call it succession," said Speaker of the House Christian Dolittle (R-Provo). "We're also going for limited sovereignty. A little more freedom from the federal government, but without a hard break. The US can still protect us if, say, Canada--or even Idaho--decides to invade."
Now legislators are free to pass law not previously allowed under the rigid strictures of the US Constitution, like abolishing freedom of speech, alcohol, tobacco, and caffiene, and once again allowing polygamy and establishing a state religion.
"Actually, it was really the original intent of Utahns," explained Josiah Cannon (R-St. George), who is also a bishop in the Mormon religion. "When Brigham Young led the Saints out of Nauvoo [Illinois, where leader Joseph Smith was killed], we were leaving the United States for a sovereign Mormon homeland. The United States stopped us, however. But now the dream is fullfilled. Just like the Jews, we feel we now have that land."
It's not clear what the move means. In the legislation, Utah gingerly suggested a relationship akin to Native American sovereignty, but what will happen next is anyone's guess. A confused Orrin Hatch, who was yesterday the senior Senator from the state, issued this statement. "Citizens of America, we ask for your patience while we sort out the legal issues. We ask that you do not regard this as a hostile move, but congratulate Utah on its bold move and join us in close partnership as we move forward."
In Washington, shocked Senators considered the ramifications to their august body. If allowed to stand, the new arrangement would turn control back over to the Democrats. When first told of the news, a normally-sedate Tom Daschle blurted out, "Hot damn, I'm majority leader again!" Once he composed himself, he struck a more moderate tone. "We will have to study this situation carefully. This is a very dramatic event." Later in the day, gleeful Democrats issued a statement endorsed the heavily-Republican state's departure.
Republicans, of course, were more ambivilent. "I don't give a damn what happened in Baghdad, Utah can't do this," said Bill Frist, who may or may not be majority leader. "Where the hell is Hatch!"
Outside the Capitol, a morose Trent Lott mused about other consequences at an impromptu press conference. "It'll mess up the flag, that's for sure. Forty-nine stars--well, I guess we could go seven by seven..."
In a symbolic move, the actual declaration will be delayed two days, to coincide with the United State's Independence Day. Celebrations are planned across the state.
President Bush was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.