Showing posts with label Tenth Amendment Center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tenth Amendment Center. Show all posts

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Raising the Bar for Nullification


From the Tenth Amendment Center
By Michael Boldin

Around the country, twenty two states are currently considering a bill known as the “Firearms Freedom Act.” This bill declares that guns, accessories, and ammunition made within a state, sold within that state and kept in that state are not subject to federal laws or regulations under the “Interstate Commerce Clause” of the Constitution.

Montana and Tennessee passed a Firearms Freedom Act into law in 2009, and a number of states are moving that direction in the 2010 legislative session. In South Carolina, where a Firearms Freedom Act was also introduced in 2009, some representatives have taken things a step further.

NULLIFYING GUN REGISTRATIONS

Introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly this week is House Bill 4509 (H4509), which if passed, would make law that “no public official of any jurisdiction may require registration of purchasers of firearms or ammunition within the boundaries of this State.”

No caveat for regulations under the commerce clause. No caveat for types of firearms either. This bill says NO to all gun registrations – period.

The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition.

In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote in response to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts:

“The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government”

and

“where powers are assumed [by the federal government] which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them”

In short, nullification means this: The state is taking a position that a particular federal law is unconstitutional, and thus, the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as that state is concerned.

But nullification is much more than just mere rhetoric. To nullify a federal law in practice requires active resistance to it by the people and the state government.

INTERPOSITION

In the Virginia Resolution of 1798, James Madison wrote of the principle of interposition:

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.

Here Madison asserts what is implied in nullification laws – that state governments not only have the right to resist unconstitutional federal acts, but that, in order to protect liberty, they are “duty bound to interpose” or stand between the federal government and the people of the state.

H4509 includes strong language to assert this principle:

Federal agents have flouted the United States Constitution and foresworn their oath to support this Constitution by requiring registration of the purchasers of firearms and ammunition, and these requirements violate the limits of authority placed upon the federal agents by the United States Constitution and are dangerous to the liberties of the people

(B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no public official of any jurisdiction may require registration of purchasers of firearms or ammunition within the boundaries of this State.

(C) Any person violating the provisions of this subsection (B) is guilty of a felony and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

Supporters of such legislation point to laws passed by other states that have effectively nullified federal laws around the country. Fourteen states have now defied federal laws on marijuana. And, two dozen states have refused to comply with the Bush-era Real ID Act, rendering that 2005 law virtually null and void today.Guns, national ID cards, and weed might be just the early stages of a quickly growing movement to nullify other federal laws seen as outside the scope of their constitutionally-delegated powers. In states around the country this year, bills have been proposed to defy or nullify federal laws on health care, use of national guard troops overseas, legal tender laws, cap and trade, and even the process of collecting federal income taxes.

The final goal? It’s a long way off – a federal government that follows the strict limits of the constitution, whether it wants to or not.


CLICK HERE to view the Tenth Amendment Center’s Legislative Tracking Page for Current Nullification Efforts

Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Will 2010 be the Year of the 10th Amendment?


Will 2010 be the year of the 10th? According to Tenth Amendment Center founder, Michael Boldin, "With people looking to resist D.C. through state laws on everything from national health care to medical marijuana, the 10th Amendment appears ready to be front and center in the national debate this year."

In 2009, seven states passed sovereignty resolutions under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Two states passed laws nullifying some federal firearms laws and regulations. States with Medical Marijuana laws in direct opposition to federal laws reached thirteen. In 2010, some expect the ante to be raised significantly.

"Already, over a dozen states are considering laws or state constitutional amendments that would effectively ban, or nullify, any proposed national health care plan in their state, and we expect that number to reach at least twenty in 2010," said Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. "In conjunction with 20+ states that have already said "No" to the Bush-era Real ID act, another dozen or more considering state laws to nullify federal gun laws, and the steady growth of states refusing to comply with federal marijuana laws, some might consider what we see today to be an unprecedented state-level rebellion to the federal government."

The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state nullifies a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or non-effective, within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.

"Nullification has been used to stand up for free speech, resist the fugitive slave laws, reduce tariffs and more. It's a peaceful and effective way to resist the federal government, and might be our only hope for moving towards the constitution. Legislators drawing this kind of line in the stand should be commended," said Boldin.

Grassroots activists around the country are looking to the Tenth Amendment and nullification to bolster their efforts too. Tenth Amendment rallies are planned in at least 10 states before the end of January, including Virginia, Washington, Alabama and Texas. "These aren't tea party protests, or tax protests, or any of the other topics that were popular last year," said Boldin. "These are rallies solely in support of the 10th Amendment, State Sovereignty or Nullification - something that indicates a major shift from the grassroots, and shows potential for the growth of a popular mass movement in support of the Tenth."

A recent article in the New York Times included "Tenther" as a top buzzword for 2009. In response, Boldin said, "With people looking to resist D.C. through state laws on everything from national health care to medical marijuana, the 10th Amendment appears ready to be front and center in the national debate once again this year."


Monday, January 11, 2010

Resistance is NOT Futile: SC's History with Nullification


"I hold the duties of life to be greater than life itself, and that in performing them, even against hope, our labor is not lost. I regard this life very much as a struggle against evil, and that to him who acts on proper principal, the reward is on the struggle more than in victory itself."
John C. Calhoun

From the Tenth Amendment Center
by Josh Eboch

Even as calls for nullification of proposed federal health care mandates have intensified on the state level, an almost hysterical effort has arisen to discredit such measures, and paint them as part of an obsolete theory with no bearing on modern politics.

Regardless of its logical descent from our most basic founding principle, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, nullification simply doesn’t work, critics say.

Or does it?

While it’s true that our system of checks and balances has been weakened substantially over the years, federalism itself has not. Divided power remains as viable a structure of government as it was the day our Constitution was ratified. Perhaps a better question is: Can nullification succeed peacefully?

Of course! It already has. For proof, one need look no further than the truth behind a favorite parable of establishment statists, the Nullification Crisis of 1832-33.

Over the years, that crucial victory for the sovereign states has been converted into a cautionary tale by those who wish to discourage taxpayers from ever questioning their federal masters. So distorted is the history that a recent article on modern nullification efforts in the Nashville City Paper declared

In the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, South Carolina passed a law nullifying federal tariffs, but the state backed down after President Andrew Jackson sent Navy warships to the Charleston harbor.

The only problem with that story is it never happened.

After nullifying the so-called Tariff of Abominations in late 1832, the citizens of South Carolina began making serious preparations to defend themselves with deadly force against any attempt by federal agents to collect the hated tax. What followed was a tense standoff between President Jackson and a relatively small group of determined citizens, that could easily have resulted in secession or war.

But those citizens refused to be intimidated by Jackson’s repeated threats of violence, and they certainly didn’t surrender to warships in Charleston Harbor.

As Wikipedia admits, it was not until the end of February 1833, when “both a Force Bill, authorizing the President to use military force against South Carolina, and a new negotiated tariff satisfactory to South Carolina [emphasis added] were passed by Congress,” that “the South Carolina convention reconvened and repealed its Nullification Ordinance.” From that point on, right up until the War Between the States, the tariff rate declined steadily.

In other words, after putting the federal government on notice that they were prepared to defend their sovereignty, with force if necessary, the people of South Carolina agreed to abide by a new “negotiated tariff,” that they felt was fair, rather than fight a war or leave the Union; neither of which they wanted to do in the first place. A clear victory for nullification, and for peace.

In fact, the entire episode is more or less a perfect demonstration of how robust federalism and divided power once protected liberty within our voluntary Union, by keeping the ambitions of the central government in check.

So why the modern spin on this event as some kind of heroic, unilateral militarism by President Jackson, and a watershed moment for centralization? Well, for one, that interpretation fits with what statists would have us all believe anyway: that there is no force on Earth (including public opinion) capable of resisting orders from the national government.

It also makes for a neat segue into the conflict that erupted 30 years later along the same fault lines of federal vs. state authority, providing a convenient way to dismiss, without debate, those who call for nullification today, by linking them with slavery and the antebellum South. At least in the eyes of an historically ignorant public.

Yet, from the Fugitive Slave Act to REAL ID, American history is replete with examples of states successfully asserting their sovereignty in constitutional disputes with the federal government. And there is every reason to believe that they could do so again with regard to health care, should it prove necessary.

If the proposed federal mandates are so unpopular in any given state that a majority of its people support legislation or a state constitutional amendment to nullify them, that should be a clear indicator to President Obama and Congress that the governed have withdrawn their consent. Any attempt to assert federal power in the face of such opposition will inevitably be seen by the citizens of those states as illegitimate and unjust.

At that point, it will be up to those in Washington to decide whether they want to respect the natural laws on which our nation was founded, or whether they would prefer to wager their lust for power against the full electoral fury of the sovereign people’s wrath.


Josh Eboch is a proud “tenther”, freelance writer, and activist originally from the Washington, D.C. area. He is a blogger for TAC’s Tenther Grapevine and the State Chapter Coordinator for theVirginia Tenth Amendment Center.