Declaration of Independence – Ignored Warnings

All patriots are acquainted with the opening phrase of the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence.  Yet I fear that too many have never taken the time to read and/or study the entire Declaration and the complaints lodged within it against the tyranny of King George III.

One thing I am certain of – those in our government most certainly are not familiar with it, for if they were, they would heed the warnings within it and change the way in which they are exercising similar tyranny over us today.

Consider these four complaints stated by Jefferson – complaints you will readily see should serve as a warning to those in our government today.

“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Does this not reflect the myriad of government agencies that have proliferated over the decades that are suffocating our freedom and liberties with endless regulations and oppressions?  Think IRS, BLM and the EPA just to list a few.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:”

Madison and others of our founders argued strenuously that the federal government’s powers were to be “few and defined”, whereas those left to the states would be “numerous and indefinite” (Federalist 45).  Yet we see Congress, the executive branch with all its agencies, and the federal courts constantly and repeatedly overstepping their constitutional authority and subjecting the citizens of the several states to purported “laws” that are contrary to the constitutions adopted by the citizens of their respective states.

“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”

You can scarcely find a more obtrusive and anti-freedom tax system than what we currently suffer under.  Yet when we petition our representatives for relief, they talk much but deliver only more oppression  – or if nothing else, stand idly by while the IRS runs roughshod over us.

“We have warned them [those in the English government] from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.”

 This statement, near the end of the Declaration, sums up the warning we are giving those in our government.  There is a tsunami of anger and frustration rising up all across the land and for the same reasons as in the days of our forefathers.  We all know how that matter was resolved:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute New Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

 Yes, those who govern us would do well to revisit our Declaration of Independence and give heed to the message and warnings it contains.

-April 15, 2016

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What Happens If You Don’t…

Pay your property taxes?  Pay your income taxes?  Comply with any EPA regulations regarding the use of your property?  Comply with a multitude of local zoning ordinances or permits in regards to your property?  We all know the answer to these questions as we’ve either experienced the consequences or know someone who has – the government, be it local, state and/or federal, swoops in and takes your property from you, fines you and perhaps even takes away your freedom by imprisoning you.

Does this sound like a government described by Patrick Henry during the Virginia ratification convention in 1788:  “for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government”?  My question hardly needs a response.

John Taylor, one of the most eloquent and ardent defenders among our founders of individual liberty and limited government, had this to say on the matter of property and individual rights:

“The restrictions as to taxing property, imposed upon both the federal and state governments, also recognize only a limited power over it in either; and as to the application of taxes, it is,…expressly limited to the execution of the powers delegated, for which purpose and no other the power of taxation was bestowed.  Among the powers delegated, there is none to grant pensions, or to dispose of the public money according to the dictates of caprice, or benevolence,…

Societies are not instituted for the purpose of enabling governments to destroy natural rights; and as no man possesses a natural, or necessary, or convenient  power over the natural rights of another, a majority of men cannot have a right to surrender to a government an absolute power over these natural rights…the freedom of conscience and of labour are essentially natural rights…Neither nature, nor necessity, nor convenience, has invested the people, or their representatives, with an absolute power over private property, or over conscience;…” (Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated, 1820, p. 276)

Let those words of wisdom from almost 200 years ago sink in.  Have we not done what Taylor said we have no right to do, namely surrendered our natural rights to a capricious government?  It is unfortunate that we cannot require all of these young people thronging to Bernie Sanders rallies to read Taylor’s writings before being allowed to vote.  Matter of fact, maybe it would help if all Americans were to read the wisdom of our founders before they cast their votes; maybe then we could elect men and women who would see to it that our government met Patrick Henry’s stated purpose of government.

-April 8, 2016

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Why the Electoral College – Part IV

Having covered the historical background of what we commonly refer to as the “electoral college,” the question now is “What advantages does it have over the approach of electing the president and vice-president by direct popular vote?”

As I explained in Parts I and II, the elector approach serves to protect the foundation principles of our system of government, namely republicanism and federalism.

Second, pure democracy will ultimately result in the oppression of minority interests by the majority.  The electoral college is designed to protect the interests of those in the minority and in fact, to enhance their interests.

Third, it helps contribute to the political stability of the nation by encouraging the existence of multiple political parties – or at least to preserve a two-party system at a minimum.

Fourth, it helps maintain the unity of the nation because it requires a distribution of the popular support across the country.  This means that a candidate for the office of president must compete for the votes of all of the citizenry across the nation.

Without these last two mechanisms in place the election of the president and vice-president would come to be dominated by the larger population centers or regions, thus ignoring huge swaths of the country.  A direct corollary to this would be the eventual disappearance of political parties and a real choice of candidates from which the citizens could choose.  In the scenario where the president would be elected by direct popular vote, one party would gain the pre-eminence in those heavily populated areas and thus become the victor in every election.

An analysis conducted by the Washington Post following the 2008 election demonstrated that were we to change to electing the president by direct popular vote, the Democrat party would be that dominate party since the densely populated cities and their surrounding areas are in the Democrat camp.  Furthermore, most of the country and citizens in-between the two coasts, with the exception of a few major cities, would be ignored because they would not be a factor in the outcome of the election.

In the final analysis, to abolish the current system and replace it with a direct popular election would forever change our entire system of government.  We would very quickly coalesce into a true “national” government, further reducing the existence of the states to a level of irrelevance.  In a word, we would cease to be a federal republic (I know, in many respects we’ve already ceased to be one).  This was a major fear of many of our  founders when the Constitution was proposed and why they gave us this ingenious system we call “the electoral college.”  I hope then that these four essays will help you understand why we must keep it intact and give you the information to better educate those you meet who think our system needs to be cast aside.

-March 4, 2016

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Why the Electoral College – Part III

As I outlined in Part II of this series, the electoral college was an ingenious compromise designed to preserve both the concepts of federalism  and republicanism in the selection process for our president and vice-president.  The intent was also to avoid the polarization by political parties by having non-committed electors select the best qualified individuals for these two offices.  Unfortunately, this ideal only lasted for the first few election cycles.

It didn’t take long before political parties arose, and with them the bitter factionalism they tend to produce.  This became evident in the election of 1800 in which the incumbent, John Adams (representing the Federalist Party) was opposed and defeated by Thomas Jefferson (representing the Democratic-Republican Party).  The Federalists favored a strong central government whereas the Democratic-Republican Party favored a smaller, limited central government with the states holding most of the governmental power (sound familiar?).

By 1836 the two party system was well-established and several trends towards the system we see today had begun to emerge.  One was the popular selection of the electors by all states (with the exception of South Carolina).  With the move to state-wide popular vote for the electors came the “winner-take-all” approach to awarding all of the state’s electors to the candidate who won the popular vote.  In 1831 the first truly “third party”, the Anti-Masonic Party, held the first presidential nominating convention in Baltimore where they selected not only their candidate for president, but also his “running mate” for the office of vice-president.  The other major parties eventually followed suit, and from there it evolved to where the electors became tied to the candidates of their parties.  This became more ingrained over the years until we finally ended up with our current method in the electoral selection process.

The uproar we’ve heard over the past couple of elections regarding one candidate winning the popular vote and losing the presidency in the electoral college is nothing new.  There have been three instances in our history in which this has happened.  In 1876 Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Republican Rutherford Hayes.  In 1888, again the Democrat candidate, Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote yet lost to Republican Benjamin Harrison in the electoral college.  Then in 2000 Democrat Al Gore lost the presidency to Republican George W. Bush in the electoral vote despite having a narrow margin in the popular vote.  There have been other instances in which the winner in both categories had a narrow majority in the popular vote but a significant margin in the electoral college.

So, controversy over our process is nothing new.  Next week we’ll examine the advantages of the electoral college system over that of direct popular vote.

-February 26, 2016

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Why the 9th Amendment?

When you read the ninth and tenth amendments, at first blush the ninth seems to be irrelevant because the same point appears to be repeated in the ending of the tenth.  However, upon closer examination, the ninth is as important, if not more so, than the tenth.

These two amendments read, in order:

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

 “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.’

 To understand why the ninth was inserted we need to return to the debate over whether or not a bill of rights was necessary.  Alexander Hamilton argued against the wisdom of having a bill of rights in Federalist 84:

 “It has been several times truly remarked that bills of rights are, in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgements of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was MAGNA CHARTA, obtained by the barons, sword in hand, from King John. Such were the subsequent confirmations of that charter by succeeding princes. Such was the Petition of Right assented to by Charles I., in the beginning of his reign. Such, also, was the Declaration of Right presented by the Lords and Commons to the Prince of Orange in 1688, and afterwards thrown into the form of an act of parliament called the Bill of Rights. It is evident, therefore, that, according to their primitive signification, they have no application to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain every thing they have no need of particular reservations.”

 As you can see, Hamilton’s argument is one of exclusion or silence.  To state that the government  cannot do something implies that without that prohibition it would be authorized or empowered to do so.  But, if there is no prohibition stated, it is understood that no authority or power in that area exists to begin with.  However, the Anti-Federalists opposed the ratification of the Constitution unless there was a guarantee that a bill of rights would be added to the newly minted constitution upon the convening of the first congress, and so in that first congress James Madison pressed the Federalists who controlled it to follow through on that guarantee and send to the states for ratification what we now know as our Bill of Rights.

This brings us to the language of the amendment in question.  The ninth amendment addresses “rights”, whereas the tenth deals with the delegation of “powers” – two very different concepts.  The purpose of the ninth amendment is to shore up what Hamilton warned of in his Federalist essay, namely that just because not every right was specifically enumerated within the Constitution, it did not mean that the people had forfeited them to the control of the central government.  It is a “catch-all” amendment prohibiting the general government from assuming control over rights which the people had never intended to delegate to it.

Since the ninth amendment addresses “rights” over which no man or entity has the leeway to usurp, it is even more critical than the tenth.  We hear much trumpeting of the tenth amendment today, and rightfully so, but it is imperative that we also understand the even greater significance of the ninth and that we, the people, reassert our claim to it in the face of a government which violates it at every turn.

-February 5, 2016

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The Federal Government’s Obligations to the States

When we look at the intrusiveness of the federal government into our lives, we should step back and ask “Where is my state government?”  It was the states, acting as independent nation-states which agreed to join together as a union under a federal constitution instead of its then current confederacy.  In so doing, they did not give up their independence or authority completely, but only in certain  limited, defined areas.  It was the intent of our founders that the state legislatures should be our protectors against assaults against our liberties and the authority of the states by the federal government, as noted by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 85:

“We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”

In examining the areas in which the federal government is to act in behalf of the states, they are limited (in broad manner) to the following:

From Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution:

  • To negotiate on behalf of the states with foreign nations in matters of commerce or other treaties;
  • To establish laws regulating naturalization as it relates to citizenship;
  • To coin money as a uniform standard of exchange among the states (an action prohibited to the states in Section 9);
  • To establish post offices and post roads between the states;
  • To provide for a military in defense of the states.

From Article III, Section 2:

  • To act as an arbitrator in disputes between two or more states.

From Article IV:

  • Section 2 – To guarantee the rights of citizens in each state are honored by the other states.
  • Section 4 –
    • To guarantee that each state shall have a republican form of government;
    • To protect the states from invasion and aiding in curbing domestic violence when requested by the legislature of the state in need of assistance.

In light of these I ask – “How’s the national government doing in regards to fulfilling its obligations?”  I can’t see where it is earning a passing grade in any of these areas.  Our biggest problem in the destruction of our liberties by the national government stems, I believe, from its utter rejection of its first obligation in Article IV, Section 4 above.

Consider the recent ruling of the SCOTUS on marriage in which it has forced states that have previously rejected recognition of gay marriage that they must do so.  When citizens of a state through their representatives have said they do not wish to recognize such marriages are told by the national government they must, then the republican form of government in that state has been destroyed.  Or again, if the citizens of a state through their legislators decide they wish to have restrictive gun laws, for the national government to step in and countermand the laws of that state, then once more, the republican form of government in that state has been destroyed.

There are many more such examples I could list similar to these two, but I hope you see the point.   The federal government is restricted to a few and defined (in the words of James Madison) areas, and those left to the states are broad and undefined.  I would submit that given the current condition of world affairs, the federal government should butt out of the business of the states and start concentrating on its obligations to the states, and that it is time for the states to start demanding that the federal government honor its obligations, starting with the one in Article IV, Section 4, Clause 1.

-January 29, 2016

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This Land’s NOT Your Land, This Land’s NOT My Land…

I remember singing “This land is your land, this land is my land”  in elementary music classes, but my how the sentiment has changed from “is” to “not”!  We have witnessed some startling developments as related to our Constitutional rights this past week in the confrontation between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Federal Department of the Bureau of Land Management.  You can read the news stories and blog essays about what happened there but I want to take a few paragraphs to delve below the surface of these events.

(As an aside, in the standoff between armed citizens and those armed members of this government agency, we have witnessed the precise reason why we have the second amendment right to bear arms – to resist the tyrannical overreach of the central government as well as the further trampling upon our Constitutional right of free speech when these government agents limited such speech to only certain restricted areas.)

There are some basic Constitutionally-related issues that need to be addressed.  First, who controls the land that is in dispute, and the corollary to it, who should control that land, Nevada or Washington DC?  Second, should any government entity control the land to begin with?  Third, if the land is “owned” by the state of Nevada, under what Constitutional authority does the federal government have in interfering with how the land is used?

Let us begin by turning to our Constitution and reading what properties it authorizes the general government to “own”.  Article I Section 8 lists the “enumerated powers” of the general government, and within those powers are given the kinds of properties it may possess:  (1) Post offices and post roads, (2) the District of the seat of the government, (3) Forts, (4) Magazines,  (5) Arsenals, (6) Dockyards, and (7) other “needful” buildings.  All of these properties were to be purchased by the general government upon the consent of legislature of the state from which the property was to be acquired.  The Union of the States did acquire property by other means, namely purchasing land from foreign countries (e.g., the “Louisiana Purchase”, Alaska) or as a result of war (Arizona, New Mexico, California, etc).  However, once these territories were divided into states, those states became as much a sovereign entity as the original thirteen.  Further, Article IV, Section 3 states that Congress shall have the power to either dispose of its territory or property as well as “make all needful Rules and Regulations” regarding said territory.

The general government owns approximately 85% of the state of Nevada, which pretty much destroys any notion of state sovereignty as far as the citizens of Nevada are concerned.  There is a dispute in this case as to whether or not the grazing range used by Mr. Bundy is federal or, as he alleges, land properly belonging to Nevada.  It appears that the property is technically federal land.  So the question is, does the property in Nevada at the heart of the dispute fall into any of those seven categories of property listed in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, and if not, then even though Nevada may have at some point ceded the land to the general government, such would be an unconstitutional exchange.  The federal government has no business being in possession of that land.  It should belong to the citizens of Nevada to either sell to private individuals/companies or lease to ranchers such as Mr. Bundy.

Therefore, since the “federal” government has no constitutional right to own that land, the land should revert back to the state of Nevada, and as Nevada is a sovereign entity, the “federal” government has no right to interfere in how the land is used.  This is why I advocate for the return of all lands and property currently owned by the general government that do not fall within those above listed categories of the Constitution back to the states wherein such property is located.

-April 23, 2014

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In the game of chess two sides struggle to keep the each other’s power in check so as to protect their “king.”  When you consider how our Constitution structures our republic according to the concept of federalism, you can see how it is much like a game of chess.  In this case the struggle is not between pieces in a game, but rather between the forces of tyranny and individuals seeking to preserve their freedom and liberties.

In the game of chess, each piece has its own unique role to play, with its own level of power and ability to affect the outcome of the game.  Like in chess where there are five pieces that work in concert to protect the king, within our Constitution there also exists five “checks-and-balances” against the forces of tyranny.

Within the federal government we have the three departments that are supposed to serve as a check against the excesses of one another.  Whenever any one of these departments fails to serve its role as a check against the encroaching, extra-constitutional power of the other two, it is as though in the game of chess that piece has been “captured” by the opposing force and removed from the board and is no longer effective in the outcome of the game.

Outside the federal government are the states which, in a system of federalism, are sovereign in their sphere of authority which they retained under the Constitution.  During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the state ratification debates and the essays that emerged from those debates (namely the writings of the Anti-Federalists and the Federalist Papers authored by Hamilton, Madison and Jay), the states were repeatedly avowed to be the guardians against tyrannical overreach by the federal government.  Yet, like the branches of the federal government, when the states abdicated their sovereignty in the areas retained by them under the Constitution they too have been “captured” and “removed from the game.”

This leaves the final and most powerful “piece” in this “chess match” – the queen, which in this case is the American people.  It is “We the People” who hold sovereignty over both state and federal government, and it is “We the People” who are to be the ultimate deciders in this match.  However, if the “queen” is unaware or not concerned as to its crucial role, it has in effect allowed itself to be cornered and though not necessarily “off the board”, it might as well be.  You may consider yourself to be more of a “pawn” and not the powerful “queen”, but together, united, the American people can be an unstoppable force against this surge of tyranny washing upon the shore of our liberties.

In chess, if a pawn reaches the back line of the opposing side of the board, it can elect to have a previously captured piece restored to the board in its place.  So it is in our struggle to preserve freedom.  Though it appears as if Congress has been “captured” in that it has refused to blunt the excesses of both the judiciary and executive branches, it can be restored if “We the People” elect constitutionally-minded men and women to serve in that body.  We can restore the power of the states by putting men and women in our state offices who will recognize and reassert their constitutionally-guaranteed roles as a shield against federal encroachment.  And finally, if the people of this once great republic will awaken to this danger and band together, we can put the “king” of tyrannical governmental power in check; failure to do so will allow tyranny to put our “king” of freedom in checkmate.

-January 8, 2016

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Jefferson & Madison’s Answer to Federal Overreach

Rumors are swirling that once again President Obama is going to not only exceed federal constitutional authority, but also his presidential authority by issuing additional gun control regulations via executive order.  Since Congress lacks the will to carry out its constitutional obligation to impeach him and remove him from office, what alternatives are left to us?  To answer that question I want to take us back to the early years of our republic when the Federalists controlled the presidency (John Adams) as well as both houses of congress.

In June 1798, Congress passed and President Adams signed The Alien and Seditions Act, which was an abusive violation of individual rights and the Constitution as far as some of the citizens of Kentucky and Virginia were concerned.  In response Jefferson wrote on behalf of the state government of Kentucky what we today know as “The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798”, and he convinced Madison to do the same for the state of Virginia (“The Virginia Resolutions of 1798”).  In both of these documents they laid out the case that this legislation was in violation of the Constitution.   Jefferson more stridently declared no less than five times that the state of Kentucky held the legislation to be “altogether void and of no force.”

Madison’s draft was not as forceful as that of Jefferson’s and was much shorter, but in both cases these two giants of constitutional republicanism and federalism appealed to their sister-states to join them in resisting this law.  Madison summed up the appeal at the end of his resolutions with these words:

“…the General Assembly [of Virginia] doth solemnly appeal to the like dispositions of the other States, in confidence that they will concur with this Commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid are unconstitutional, and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each, for cooperating with this State in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties, reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In his appeal, Jefferson went so far as to declare 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.”  Yet he also expressed the same approach as Madison that all of the states should band together in opposition to this usurpation by the “General Government”“…that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.”

When Obamacare was enacted over thirty states filed suit with the Supreme Court as to its unconstitutionality, and we all know how Chief Justice Roberts’ twisted logic blunted that effort.  What should have been done regarding that legislation, and as Jefferson stated about “these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, was to band together with the legislatures of each of them issuing the same kind of declaration as Jefferson and Madison did on behalf of Kentucky and Virginia in 1798.

Unfortunately, Jefferson’s and Madison’s pleadings fell on deaf ears, and so the Act remained in effect until Jefferson was elected president and the Democrat-Republicans gained control of Congress in 1801 when they repealed the law.  However, consider this scenario:  over 30 states (or more) join hands and stand up as a united group against these onerous overreaches of the general government, be it Obamacare, the EPA, you name it; what would be the likelihood that Washington could roll over that many states like they might be able to do to one or a few?

If you read The Federalist Papers, the debates of the Constitutional Convention and the state ratifying conventions as well as the writings of the Anti-Federalists, you will hear one common argument among them all – namely, “in our political system…the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #28).  It’s time for the states today to stand upon the shoulders of Jefferson and Madison and follow their lead.

-December 18, 2015

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The Refugee Crisis: Showdown between Federal and State Sovereignty

A number of states are forbidding the federal government from settling within their jurisdictions some of the thousands of Syrian refugees President Obama wants to admit into the US.  The President has declared that he will force the states to accept however many of these refugees as he sees fit, and so the stage is set for a major constitutional showdown, like two gunslingers in an old western movie squaring off against one another.

The outcome of this confrontation is far more critical to the future of what’s left of our republic than the welfare of these refugees.  It goes to the very heart of the structure of our federally constituted republic and whether or not we shall finally fall into the pit feared by the Anti-Federalists at the time of the ratification of the Constitution by becoming a singular nationalized country instead of a union of independent, sovereign states.

To begin with, nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government granted the authority over the matter of granting refugees admittance.  You can read it forwards and backwards, but that enumerated power is not stipulated.  This being the case, then this authority must be a power retained by the citizens of the several states, who in their capacity as a body politic, according to the tenth amendment, have every right to make the determination as to the settlement of refugees within their borders.

How is it then that we have reached this juncture of a constitutional crisis over who has authority over immigration policy?  Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the US Constitution stipulates that “Congress shall have the power…to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,…”  At the time of the writing of the Constitution, there was a distinct difference in meaning between the terms “naturalization” and “immigration”, and they were not synonymous.  For the first one hundred years of our history the federal government was only concerned with legislation which laid down the requirements aliens would have to satisfy to become citizens of the United States, while the states enacted their own laws regarding who would be permitted to enter their borders.  It was not until the late 1800s that Congress began to enact immigration legislation.  Over the past 130 or so years the courts have gradually upheld the federal government’s assumption of this power, but with varying degrees of suspect constructions (which makes this assumption on the part of the federal government even more dubious).  The conventional argument is that the naturalization clause of the Constitution includes the authority over immigration as well, but such was not the meaning understood by the original authors of the Constitution.  Note the absurd contortion Justice Kennedy resorted to in upholding this argument in the 2012 case of Arizona v. United States:

 “The Government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens. … This authority rests, in part, on the National Government’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,’ U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 4, and its inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations….”

 In order to substantiate that naturalization includes authority over immigration, he has to fall back on the authority of the federal government to deal with foreign nations.  Really?  Such so-called reasoning flies in the face of etymology and our early history (which would be the best indicator of which “sphere of influence” this matter resided).

In light of this and President Obama’s threat, we need to step back and consider the structure of the relationship between the federal government and the states as it was originally intended.  In his throwing down of the gauntlet over this issue, the President is claiming that the federal government can set aside the wishes of the citizens of a state in regards to matters that are constitutionally retained by them.

The question becomes, ”Does this assertation comport to the form of the union created by the Constitution?”  Our system vests sovereignty in but one place – the people of the several, yet united, states.  The sovereign people of the states agreed to grant authority (or limited sovereignty if you will) to two spheres – the federal and state governments – via constitutions.  It is in the US Constitution we see the spheres of authority between these two entities clearly delineated, and that neither “sphere” is permitted to invade that of the other.

In Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated, published in 1820, John Taylor of Caroline, after quoting both Madison’s and Hamilton’s comments to this point in The Federalist Papers, succinctly summed up this principle with these words:

“The co-ordinacy of institution, the independence of each other, and the mutuality of the right of construing the federal constitution, are thus recognised and asserted, as existing in the federal and state governments; and the principle, which pervades the whole, must also pervade the parts. If the entire federal government possesses no supremacy over, and can require no subordination from the entire state governments, whilst acting within their respective spheres, no part or department of that government can exert a supremacy over, or exact a subordination from, the corresponding parts or departments of the state governments.”

To apply this to our current showdown between the states and President Obama, if the matter of admitting refugees is a matter left to the discretion of the states, and “If the entire federal government possesses no supremacy over, and can require no subordination from the entire state governments,” then for Obama to claim he can force the states to do otherwise is to turn Taylor’s principle on its head, namely, that if one part of the federal government can eviscerate the authority of the states in one matter, then the entire federal government can do likewise in all areas, and the significance of even the semblance of states’ existence is reduced to the theatre of the absurd.

It may well be that having the federal government control those permitted to immigrate into the United States, especially in this day and time, is the best course of action; but as Chief Justice John Marshall stated in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819, “The peculiar circumstances of the moment may render a measure more or less wise, but cannot render it more or less constitutional.”

-December 4, 2015

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