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Tenth Amendment: More State-Specific Sites, Commentary and Media Coverage

From the top: Pennsylvania State Rep. Sam Rohrer does an excellent job of explaining some of the reasoning behind why several States are pushing for Tenth Amendment resolutions.

Taking a trip around the blogosphere, here are more links to sites that are helping to push the States’ rights movement forward:

  • is aggregating a number of different sites and bills/resolutions that have been proposed to date (very similarly to my State-based initiatives page, here)
  • HoosiersForFairTaxation represents citizens from the great State of Indiana pushing for a resolution
  • WVSovereignty is similarly a gathering place for those folks living in the great State of West Virginia

The published some excellent commentary by Mr. Lew Rockwell entitled, “Were the States Sovereign Nations?“, excerpted here…

Lincoln claimed in his famous First Inaugural Address that “no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.” He could only have been referring to “the Union” as set forth in the Constitution; for, prior to this, there can be no disputing the fact that the states were free and sovereign nations – as established in the Articles of Confederation, which under Article II states that:

“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

Here the term “delegated” requires contextual definition, meaning literally “to make lesser law;” when powers are “delegated,” they are merely passed down a chain-of-command to a subordinate agent by a superior principal authority, in order to provide that agent with representative “proxy” authority to carry out respective duties. In no way may does this delegated authority ever supersede or negate that of the delegating body – any more than a company employee who is delegated authority by his manager, can give orders to the firm’s owner, or override the dictates of such. Rather, such a representative can be overridden at any time at the behest of the superior – or discharged entirely.

As such, a “delegation” clause cannot be seen as a compromise or surrender of sovereignty in any way.

Thus, the force and effectiveness of this sovereignty which was thus “retained” from the Declaration of Independence, was equivalent to that of any other nation; this was made clear in the Declaration, via the statement:

“That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do” (emphasis in original).

(Note that the term “state” used here in the Declaration, is clearly used synonymously with the term “nation” for the purposes of this document; as such, the United States had no more claim in binding South Carolina or Virginia, than it had in binding England or France, and the term “United States” literally meant “United Nations.”)

Lincoln and his defenders, then, must believe that the states somehow “surrendered” their status as sovereign nations, in the act of ratifying the Constitution (or, as Lincoln added in his First Inaugural, “the union matured”). However this is negated by the 10th Amendment specification that powers were merely delegated, i.e.,

“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” (emphasis added).

In this context, therefore, powers were delegated to the federal government via the Constitution by the states ratifying it, not out in the interest of any sort of collectivism, but merely for the purposes of practical harmony in co-existence – with both union and non-union nations – solely for advancing the individual benefit of the respective delegating state.

Meanwhile, the 9th amendment likewise states that:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Since the term “others” as used here, clearly refers to rights not enumerated in the text of the Constitution, then it thus implicitly preserves those rights enumerated via priordocuments – such as the Articles of Confederation, which specifically retains the “sovereignty, freedom and independence” of every state – which the Constitution does not exclude anywhere (but rather preserves, since states would have to retain their sovereign powers in order to delegate them).

Here the term “the people” must likewise be defined, with this term referring to the same “people” referenced initially in the Constitution’s preamble – and which, as has been well-established elsewhere, did not refer to all persons in the United States collectively; rather, the term “the people” refers solely to the citizens of the states individually and respectively, speaking through their elected officials – and even then, only those states ratifying the Constitution at the time.

This is further implied in the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 2, statement that:

“The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.”

Clearly, separate reference to “citizens of each state,” as opposed to “citizens in the several states,” clarifies that citizenship was strictly state-specific and derived, and not union-related in any way whatsoever: in fact, the term “Citizen of the United States” was never known prior to the passage of the 14th amendment following the Civil War – being a pure post-Lincoln invention – , and would have no more meaning prior to that war, than “Citizen of the United Nations” in today’s context to imply similar supremacy.

As such, it is clear that the Ninth Amendment implicitly reserved the right of every state, to the same sovereignty, freedom and independence which existed previously, i.e., no less than that of any other nation in the world.

Finally, even when admitting all of the above, anti-secessionists almost unanimously claim their proverbial “trump-card” in the Constitution’s so-called “Supremacy clause” of U.S. Constitution Article VI, which states that:

“This Constitution… shall be the Supreme Law of the Land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the laws or constitutions of any state notwithstanding.”

The level of absurdity in declaring any sort of logical victory, based on such an obviously flawed argument is astounding; for here the explicit language regarding this “Supreme Law” clearly, specifically and unmistakably states – in plain English, no less – that this “law” is binding on “the judges in every state – ” and only the judges.

In contrast, the remainder of the Article omits all other officials from any such bond, using very different language in describing its relation to them; to wit:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Any person literate in the English language – not to mention the language of law and logic – should be able to recognize that such explicitly omissive and separate treatment, translates to the fact that the Constitution does not claim any legal binding effect whatsoever, on anyone but state judges; rather, such language merely implies recognition of the Constitution by officials as a mere mutual good-faith agreement. It is simply absurd, after all, to claim that the phrase “state judges shall be bound by law, while all others shall be bound merely by a promise or agreement to support the law,” somehow translates to the notion that “all officials are bound by law – ” particularly when the final clause specifically precludes any religious test from implying the term “oath or affirmation” as binding via any common “higher law,” such as an oath specifically to God, Allah or the Buddha – even allowing religions for which oath or affirmation has no higher context.

As such, the implication here is that the Constitution is a mere treaty between separate and sovereign nation-states – a treaty which state officials simply agree to “support,” as opposed to being bound to obey such as a law, under penalty of such. Rather, this treaty is written as merely a bi-lateral agreement, with each side bound solely by its own conscience and good reputation – and as such, may be thus dispensed with entirely, if either side believes a breach of faith has been committed by the other.

The above represents about half of Mr. Rockwell’s column; the entirety is certainly worth a read.

From the media, the Christian Science Monitor had the following tid-bit at the bottom of their posting regarding “Porkulus Maximus:”

The underlying cause for the resistance has to do with state sovereignty, says Byron Schlomach at the conservative Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. Will a short-term federal government intervention weaken states’ rights by making them more financially beholden to Washington?

That’s an issue that is particularly relevant as the revolt is largely coming from states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alaska, whose residents currently receive some of the highest shares of federal subsidies in the country. These states, argues Mr. Schlomach, know the price that comes with federal largess. “We’re giving up our sovereignty and putting the federal government even more in the driver’s seat,” he says.

More poignantly, out of the great State of Montana (State House pictured), the is reporting on the great State of Montana’s push for a sovereignty bill tied with the Second Amendment

HELENA – Montana lawmakers are betting the words ‘Made in Montana’ might be able to trigger a court showdown with the federal government, while also freeing some gun owners and dealers from background check and licensing requirements.

Under a proposed law before the Legislature, firearms, weapons components and ammunition made in Montana and kept in Montana would be exempt from federal regulation, potentially releasing some Montanans from national gun registration and licensing laws. The legislation could also free gun purchasers in the state from background checks.

Still, the bill’s proponents say the measure has much bigger prey in its sights.

“Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I’d like to support that,” said Republican Rep. Joel Boniek, the bill’s sponsor. “But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It’s about state rights.”

Gun rights and state rights both play well in Montana. The state’s leading gun rights organization boasts it has moved 50 bills through the Legislature in half as many years. And bills bucking federal control over wolf management, marijuana and wetland protection are also being considered. Unlike these others, though, the ‘Made in Montana’ measure has been intentionally drafted to draw the feds into court.

“The primary purpose is to set up a legal challenge but also to say we have a lot of really good people in Montana who do the right thing,” said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. …

At issue in any such court case would be federal authority over interstate commerce, the legal basis for gun regulation in the United States. Through the Constitution, Congress has authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the states.

The U.S. Supreme Court has handled past efforts to bypass what’s known as the Commerce Clause, most recently in 2005 when the court upheld federal authority to regulate marijuana in California, even if its use is limited to noncommercial purposes — such as medical reasons — and it is grown and used within a state’s borders.

Montana’s current bid for sovereignty over guns, however, could fare better with the added firepower of being linked to a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear firearms, say its proponents.

“It’s only done because the firearms are a stronger case than, say, making doilies,” Boniek said. “Knitting is not a constitutionally protected right.”



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