They meant nothing when federal court rulings and civil rights laws prevailed.
I believe this is a specious comparison.
The segregationists of that era certainly did not have moral authority on their side. But I believe that moral authority does, indeed, rest with the resistors to an overweening federal government nowadays.
And I would hope that the states would unite in their total opposition to all federal-court rulings (including those of the SCOTUS), and declare their own (respective) state Supreme Courts to be the ultimate authority on all matters.
I view this kind of law along with laws about illegal immigrants in AZ and AL and the abortion laws passed in Arkansas and North Dakota as being Karl Rovian “wedge issues” that keep the base riled up supporting the GOP even as they end up being ruled illegal in part or full by federal courts.
There was also a phony law passed when Terri Schiavo’s starvation began in 2005 and signed by President W Bush that raised hopes but did nothing to save her life.
We were told to give the GOP credit for “trying.”
The grassroots are being hustled by insider politicians when these laws are passed.