Friday, March 12, 2010

States Finally Pushing Back Against Federal Overreach

With so much corrosive overreaching coming at us these days from our Progressive overseers in DC, it’s difficult to sort it all out or to reasonably keep up. Of course, that barrage of encroachments may, in fact, be the Progressive’s strategy, i.e. so overwhelm Americans with a flurry of executive orders, strangulating regulations and legislative blitzkriegs that America’s transformation into a suffocating socialist state, or worse, becomes a fait accompli before “we the people” know what hit us.

Owing to the stunningly brazen Progressive assault on the Constitution over the past two years, I am now convinced more than ever that only if state governments unflinchingly assert their constitutional authority can the relentless and ruthless federal assault on our liberties and way of life be effectively thwarted.

In short, I’ve given up trying to keep up and report on the myriad incidences of unconstitutional overreaching imperiling our Republic. There's simply too much of it going on these days. So, now I'm looking to the states, our penultimate line of defense, to bring about some semblance of Constitutional order to the political and economic maelstrom in which we now find ourselves.

Leading that charge is Virginia which, on March 10th, outlawed health care “individual mandates”, a cornerstone of Obamacare. Hallelujah! Yes, the states are finally pushing back in earnest against federal violations of the enumerated powers provision as well as of the 10th Amendment. And I relish the hope that this is only the beginning. And so long as the states don’t lose their nerve or conspire to sell their citizens out for a piece of federal silver, America really can turn back the neo-Marxist tide. If not, the Constitution and our Founders vest"we the people" with the ultimate authority and responsibility for restoring constitutional order. Let's just pray that it doesn't need to come to that.

First, let us always remember that it is historically unassailable that it was the states which created the federal government, not the other way around, and that, by original design and intent, there is a clearly defined Constitutional separation of powers between the states and the national government. Fearing an overreaching and tyrannical federal authority, and striving to create a harmonious and effective balance of authority between the states and the feds, the framers were very careful to define the inviolable powers of both.

To advance their parochial interests, however, over the years courts and politicians have errantly interpreted—or, more precisely, MISinterpreted—the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Art VI, Clause 2), the Commerce Clause (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 3), General Welfare Clause (Article 1, Sec 8), and the Necessary & Proper Clause (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause18), in a manner which has been disturbingly and manifestly at odds with the framers’ clear and wholly unambiguous intentions. Unfortunately, the direct election of senators (17th Amendment) and increasingly generous federal pay-offs to the states have served to dramatically dilute state/local authority and to blur the constitutional distinction between state and federal power. The loser, of course, has been the Constitution which is now viewed by Progressives as both obsolete and inimicable to their socialist agenda.

So, what constitutional principle did Virginia advance by its action. As espoused by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 respectively, it’s called “nullification”, a well-grounded Constitutional principle which upholds states rights and strict constructionism. And though folks on either side of the political spectrum may still debate its relevance in today’s post-Civil War world, by its very nature and intent nullification properly asserts the inviolable Constitutional separation of powers between the states and the federal government as envisaged by the 10th Amendment and the Constitution’s Enumerated Powers provision (Article 1, Section 8).

When a state nullifies a federal law as unconstitutional it is declaring the law in question “null and void” within the boundaries of that state. In effect, the state is abrogating or otherwise rendering that law inoperative or, more to the point, unenforceable within the confines of that state’s jurisdiction. However, as a practical matter--and absent armed rebellion or widespread civil disobedience/non-compliance--only if a bloc of state governments nullifies a federal law or order will the nullification action have any realistic hope of success. Again, let's pray that nullification eliminates the need for more forceful resolution.

Unquestionably, state authority is subordinate to that of federal authority—BUT, BUT, BUT only if the federal authority exercised is specifically and constitutionally granted per Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Obviously, ALL other powers are, per the 10th Amendment, clearly reserved to the states or to the people. In other words, an unconstitutional law emanating either from the state or the national government is not in and of itself supreme on either level, but only those laws which are constitutional. More simply put, neither states nor the federal government may assert powers not specifically granted to them by the Constitution of the United States. Pretty straightforward stuff, I’d say. And when self-serving ideologues and socio-political engineers of every stripe deliberately parse or misinterpret the meaning of Art 1, Sec 8 and the 10th Amendment in order to advance their extremist political goals, it is patently irresponsible, reckless and constitutionally indefensible.

So, where is the pushback occurring these days, and what issues are included in that pushback. Here’s a brief overview which, I think, will buoy the gloomiest of spirits among us:

Issue.........................................Passed One or Both...................... Signed Into
...............................................Legislative Chambers............................ Law

1.Prohibit Individual Healthcare
Mandate………………………….........ID, UT, OK, MO, TN, AZ………….........................VA
....................................................(AZ referendum set for Nov’10)............................................
*2. Firearms Freedom Act……….AZ, ID, OK, VA, AK, WA……….....................TN, UT, MT
.........................................................WY, CO, MN, ND, TX, KS...................................................
................................................MI, IN, OH, PA, WV, SC, MI, FL, NH........................................
(*…declares any firearms, ammunitions manufactured and retained in-state are beyond
the authority of Congress)

*3. Nullification of Federal Intrastate
Commerce Regulations…………………...........VA………………………………………........................
(*…asserts original meaning of commerce clause over wide areas of policy & effectively
nullifies federal laws & regulations that violate such limitations by regulating
commerce and other activities that are solely intrastate)

*4. Cap and Trade……………………....WA, AZ, OK, TN………………………………......................
(*…asserts that Cap & Trade is not authorized under the Commerce Clause, particularly
with respect to agriculture, manufacturing, mining, or land use or activities that merely
“substantially affected” commerce.)

*5. 10th Amendment
Resolution……………………….........AZ. KS, VA, UT, SC, ND....................WY, AL, AK, TN
..................................................................SD, OK, LA...............................................................
(*Do not have the force of law, but serve as a “notice & demand” to the federal
government to “cease and desist any and all activities outside the scope of their
constitutionally-delegated powers.)

This is but a sampling of current state initiatives intended to reassert states rights and to re-establish the constitutional balance of power between state and federal authority.

Also in the works are state resolutions and laws covering the following areas: State Sovereignty & Federal Tax Funds, Sheriff’s First Legislation, Federal Gun Laws Nullification, Real ID Act, etc. It’s almost as if the Founders, wailing from their graves and urging us on to retake our Republic are finally being heard. To say the least, the vitality and urgency of this pushback are remarkable and, indeed, encouraging. Interestingly, such nullification intensity hasn’t been seen since before the Civil War.

Clearly, the grassroots Tea Party Movement has provided momentum to the explosion of states rights initiatives. For this we should all be encouraged and, hopefully, energized. Short of rebellion, without the moral force and suasion of state governments and grassroots movements around the country, effectively checking the blatant excesses of the federal government will be, I’m afraid, impossible and tyranny will surely triumph. Thus, at every opportunity, I urge all good Americans, no matter their party label, to support and encourage these movements and initiatives. And only candidates who fully support constitutional and limited government should be actively supported.

Finally, I urge you all to monitor these movements and initiatives, and to become conversant with the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Not only are these foundational documents intensely interesting, our better understanding and appreciating their timeless wisdom will enable us to properly educate ourselves and to persuasively alert others to the ruinous course upon which this Progressive-afflicted nation has embarked. For ourselves and future American generations, we must all help turn the statist tide.

And if we're not deeply troubled, even scared, by what's being perpetrated on our country, then we simply haven't been paying attention and are, therefore, shamefully complicit in its dissolutiion. And what will we tell our children then? Indeed, what will we be able to tell them?

("If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one." James Madison)

(“On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” Thomas Jefferson)

(“The Utopian schemes of leveling (redistribution of the wealth) and a community of goods (central ownership of all the means of production and distribution), are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the crown.” John Adams)

(“We have a Republic…if you can keep it.” Benjamin Franklin , Constitutional Convention, 1787)