18 February 2009

States’ Rights and the Growing Rebellion – A Status Report

Family Security Matters,
February 16, 2009
by: Paul Hollrah

One of the inevitable consequences of the last 75 years of Democrat rule in Washington – augmented by a decade or more of gutless rule by Republican presidents and congressional majorities who thought they could win hearts and minds by imitating Democrats – is a quiet rebellion within that basic building block of our American republic: the state legislatures.

After many decades of uninterrupted drift toward a socialist state, and seeing a self-serving federal legislature and a bloated federal bureaucracy whose incompetence is exceeded only by its avarice, the legislatures of a number of states are beginning to take matters into their own hands.

They rely on the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which proclaims that:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Accordingly, some eight states, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington, are now considering either legislation or resolutions designed to reassert powers usurped by a power hungry federal establishment over the past 222 years. Typical of the proposals now under consideration is Oklahoma House Resolution 1003. Referring to the language of the 10th Amendment as its basis, the Resolution concludes:

“THAT the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.”

The resolution serves notice on the federal government that it is to “cease and desist” in the process of issuing mandates to the State of Oklahoma that exceed the powers granted to it by the U.S. Constitution, and it resolves that all compulsory federal legislation which directs the state to comply under threat of civil or criminal sanctions, or which requires the state to take certain actions or lose federal funding, shall be prohibited or repealed.

House Resolution 1003 is similar to a resolution filed last year which passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 92-3 but was stalled in an evenly-divided Senate. Republicans gained a clear Senate majority in November 2008

In New Hampshire, a resolution reasserting States’ rights reads, in part, as follows:

“Whereas the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 1, Article 7 declares that the people of this State have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America…”
Proving once again that the people of New Hampshire take seriously their state motto, Live Free of Die, the Resolution concludes with an ominous declaration, saying that any act of Congress, any executive order of the President of the United States, or any directive of the Federal Courts “which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution… and which serves to diminish the liberty of the several States or their citizens, shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution of the United States of America…”

In Missouri, House Concurrent Resolution 0004 (2009) reasserts its sovereignty based on Barack Obama’s stated intention to sign into law a federal “Freedom of Choice Act.” The Missouri Resolution reads, in part:

“Whereas, Barack Obama, President of the United States, has promised that one of the top priorities of his new Administration is to sign into law the "Freedom of Choice Act" which purports to classify abortion as a "fundamental right" equal in stature to the right of free speech and the right to vote – rights that, unlike abortion, are specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution; and
“Whereas, the federal Freedom of Choice Act would nullify any federal or state law "enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of [its] enactment" and would effectively prevent the State of Missouri from enacting similar protective measures in the future…”

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-fifth General Assembly, hereby declare our sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States…”

In Montana, the House of Representatives is considering a bill reasserting the state’s sovereignty, using as a basis the 2nd Amendment rights of the people of Montana. House Bill 246 reads, in part, as follows:


“The 10th amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees to the states and their people all powers not granted to the federal government elsewhere in the Constitution and reserves to the state and (the) people of Montana certain powers as they were understood at the time that Montana was admitted to statehood in 1889. The guaranty of those powers is a matter of contract between the state and people of Montana and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by Montana and the United States in 1889.”

In addition to bills and resolutions already introduced in these states and the legislatures of Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, and Washington – telling the federal government to mind its own business, the business specifically assigned to it by the U.S. Constitution – similar proposals are under consideration in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine, and Pennsylvania. The 20 states already considering such proposals, or contemplating such action, contain 40.2% of the total U.S. population.

In the year that the U.S. Constitution was written, Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion; what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."

Clearly, any careful reading of the U.S. Constitution should convince the reader that the primary building block of the American republic is the state legislature. They are now drawing a line in the sand and are reminding the three branches of the federal government of their Constitutional limitations. We hope that the course they have embarked upon will continue to be a bloodless one. To insure that it is, we should all lend our active support to the state legislators. They are the Patrick Henrys of our era.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul Hollrah is a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute


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