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State Sovereignty

The Arkansas State Sovereignty Commission was created in February 1957 to “protect the sovereignty of Arkansas…from encroachment by the federal government.” The commission advanced the discredited notion that state laws could be used to nullify federal laws. Its primary purpose was to prevent school desegregation. The commission was modeled on other southern State Sovereignty Commissions that harassed pro-civil rights groups. Republican Winthrop Rockefeller condemned the commission as “dangerous” and deemed it a potential “Arkansas gestapo.” Even Gov. Orval Faubus was forced to concede to a reporter that “Everyone knows that state laws can’t supersede federal laws.” The commission only ever met twice, demonstrating that its purpose was more about posturing than taken the proposition seriously.