Georgia has joined Arizona, California, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington in reaffirming her sovereignty. As many as 29 states are expected to pass similar resolutions this year.
Why is this such a big deal? Because the Federal government has trampled all over the Tenth Amendment and forgotten its place. In case you slept through civics class (or if they don't teach it anymore), the Tenth Amendment reads:
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.
The whole purpose of the this amendment was to structure Federalism with a slant towards the States. The Federal government is supposed to be the agent of the States, and therefore subordinate to them.
Of course, it doesn't seem to work that way anymore, does it?
Look at the steady campaign of infringement of the Second Amendment that we've seen since the Great Depression. To some extent, the Federal government regulates the manufacture, sale and ownership of firearms in every state, whether or not that state has consented to such oversight. Consider the actions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when pursuing warrants in violation of state protocols.
In fact, look at FDR's term as a whole. The current administration certainly is. Roosevelt quadrupled the size of the Federal government, and he did his best to ensure that it would achieve ascendancy over states' sovereignty.
What we're left with is the idea that the Federal government is in charge of this country, and with that, the notion that a larger government can best manage our lives. Americans have come to think that the nexus of our Republic is Washington D.C., and that it's the government's responsibility to provide for our needs.
Though nothing could be farther from the truth, it's a convenient illusion for those who benefit from a larger, more pervasive and more intrusive centralized government. They've been selling the Big Lie since 1934, and we've heard it so long, it doesn't occur to many of us to question it.
So, what's changed? Part of it is certainly the election of a President whose background and utterances suggest an inclination towards turning us into a Scandinavian welfare state. Another glaring factor is the rush to pass an $825 billion "stimulus" bill without giving legislators a chance to read it.
So, here we are. Georgia House Resolution 280, as of current draft reads:
House Resolution 280
By: Representatives Scott of the 2nd, Benton of the 31st, Jerguson of the 22nd, England of the 108th, Allison of the 8th, and others
Claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; and for other purposes.
WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: "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."; and
WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and
WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and
WHEREAS, today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and
WHEREAS, many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and
WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY: that the State of Georgia 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.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the House of Representatives is authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state's legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Georgia Congressional Delegation.
Other states' resolutions (1) are similar in wording and reasoning. Notice Montana's emphasis on the Second Amendment:
The second amendment to the United States constitution reserves to the people the right to keep and bear arms as that right was understood at the time that Montana was admitted to statehood in 1889, and the guaranty of the right 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. (…) Article II, section 12, of the Montana constitution clearly secures to Montana citizens, and prohibits government interference with, the right of individual Montana citizens to keep and bear arms.
Whereas, The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and
Whereas, The scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and
Whereas, Today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and
Whereas, Many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and
Whereas, The United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states
New Hampshire's resolution reaches back to Jefferson and Madison (2) and takes a more line-in-the-sand approach:
That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:
I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.
II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.
V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.
VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and
That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government
Yes, they're actually talking about secession from the Union. This isn't the first time in recent memory, either. Washington and Oklahoma chaired such bills last year, though they failed to pass. This year, we've got some twenty-odd states flooring such resolutions.
Ultimately, it was Ron Paul who helped bring this whole issue into sharp relief during the last election. I have to admit, I never took the man very seriously. For that, I apologize, and without reservation. He may only hold sway in Texas at the moment, but he's brought a huge potential change on the national level that may realign our government towards its original purpose.
It's worth mentioning that the closing clause of almost every one of these resolutions calls for copies of said resolution to be delivered to the President and all members of Congress.
The gloves are off, and not a moment too soon.
(1) Bear in mind, these are resolutions, and do not have the force of law. I could get a resolution passed that says, "mimes are a danger to the social fabric and should be deported to Baltimore." In fact, I think that'd be a darned good idea. But such a resolution is not binding in any way. Mimes would unfortunately still be safe on the streets of Atlanta. The resolutions we're talking about here are statements of conviction and possibly future intent.
(2) From the Federalist Papers, No. 45:
Having shown that no one of the powers transferred to the federal government is unnecessary or improper, the next question to be considered is, whether the whole mass of them will be dangerous to the portion of authority left in the several States (…) each of the principal branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently feel a dependence, which is much more likely to beget a disposition too obsequious than too overbearing towards them.
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security (…) If the new Constitution be examined with accuracy and candor, it will be found that the change which it proposes consists much less in the addition of new powers to the Union, than in the invigoration of its original powers.