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The misunderstood history of nullification

By Mike Maharrey
National Communications Director
The Tenth Amendment Center

Could the recent Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care act bring conservative Republicans back to their state-sovereignty, nullification roots?

It just might.

Last week, two major conservative publications — National Review and The American Spectator — featured stories flirting with nullification. On top of that, millions of conservative Republicans got a nullification lesson on Thursday when Walter Williams guest-hosted “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

Many Americans associate nullification with racism, because they think Southern states used the principle to protect slavery. In fact, northern abolitionists advanced nullification and appealed to “states’ rights” in their battle against fugitive slave laws. And while modern Republicans generally respond tepidly to the idea of nullification, their party was born out of a nullification fight in Wisconsin, a historical fact that long ago fell down an Orwellian memory hole.

Historically speaking, the Republican Party is the party of nullification.

In March of 1854, Benammi Stone Garland, two federal marshals and several others broke into the home of Joshua Glover. They clubbed him over the head, dragged him bleeding from his shanty and locked him up in the Milwaukee jail. Glover was an escaped slave, and Garland his “owner.” Legally, Garland had every right to take his “property” into custody and drag Glover back to Missouri. The Constitution provided for the return of escaped slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 created the mechanism. The act denied due process to anyone accused of escaping slavery. Federal courts authorized the capture of fugitive slaves simply on the word of their “owners.” The accused weren’t even allowed to testify in their own defense. The Fugitive Slave Act was wildly unpopular and actively resisted in every northern state.

Wisconsinites quickly acted. Led by Sherman Booth, an abolitionist newspaper editor, several thousand people gathered on the steps of the Milwaukee courthouse. When a federal judge refused to release Glover on a writ of habeas corpus, the throng broke him out of jail and ushered him onto the famed Underground Railroad. Glover ultimately escaped to freedom in Canada.

The events of that spring day sparked a five-year battle between Wisconsin and the federal government. The feds charged Booth for violating the Fugitive Slave Act, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court freed him on a writ of habeas corpus, declaring the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional. Justice Abram Smith wrote, “Every jot and tittle of power delegated to the Federal Government will be acquiesced in, but every jot and tittle of power reserved to the States will be rigidly asserted.”

The aftermath of Glover’s escape led directly to the formation of the Republican Party. Anti-slavery meetings in the spring of 1854 spurred by the fight between Wisconsin and the federal government led to a statewide convention in July. The attendees formed a party and nominated candidates for the November elections. They called their new party “the Republican Party.” It flexed its muscle that fall, winning two of three congressional races and taking control of the Wisconsin legislature.

Republicans lost ground in 1855 when the party added temperance to its platform. But with the battle over slavery turning bloody in Kansas, Wisconsin Republicans turned things around in the 1856 elections. The fledgling party, promoting free soil and state sovereignty, took all three congressional seats, and grabbed firm control of the state assembly and senate. The Republican-controlled state legislature passed a resolution supporting the Wisconsin Supreme Court in nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act and interposing for Booth. It also defied federal law by passing a Personal Liberty Act. Among other things, the law gave county courts the power to issue writs of habeas corpus to fugitive slaves, made it the duty of district attorneys to seek their discharge and established fines of $1,000 for kidnapping free blacks.

The selection of Wisconsin’s next U.S. senator reveals the Republican Party’s deep state-sovereignty roots. The caucus put two resolutions to the candidates. The first endorsed Jeffersonian constitutionalism as expressed in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which nullified the Alien and Sedition Acts. The second asserted that Republicans had a duty to stand by the state Supreme Court to “pronounce final judgment” in all matters regarding the reserved powers of the states and to shield residents from unconstitutional federal acts. Early front-runner Timothy Howe heartily endorsed the first resolution but equivocated on the second. He ultimately lost to James Doolittle, who pledged his full support for both resolutions.

The Republican Party grew from the soil of state sovereignty and nullification. Now is the time for Republicans to rediscover those roots and support state nullification of the federal health care act.

Mike Maharrey serves as the national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, a think tank promoting constitutional fidelity and working to restore a proper balance of power between the state and federal governments. You may contact Mike at: michael.maharrey@tenthamendmentcenter.com.

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Republicans on Leaks: Either President or Times Is Wrong

Both cannot be correct

2:46 PM, Jun 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER

President Obama at a press conference this morning insisted that high-level national security leaks are not coming from the White House.

“The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified information is offensive,” President Obama said.
But a Republican memo from the Senate Republican Policy Committee maintains that either the president or the New York Times is wrong.

“It would appear the President’s statement and the New York Times statements directly conflict with each other and cannot both be true at the same time,” the memo states.

For proof, the memo highlights Obama’s denial that the White House is responsible for the leaks and certain statements in the Times‘s stories.

“If that statement were meant to serve as a denial that the Obama Administration leaked classified information, it would appear to stand in direct contrast to the New York Times article describing the President’s personal involvement in a process  ‘to designate terrorists for kill or capture,’” the memo states. “One of the opening paragraphs described the methodology for compiling the story, saying ‘three dozen’ of the President’s ‘current and former advisers’ were interview sources for the story.”

The memo cites another example that would seem to contradict the president’s statement: “A second story, about cyberattacks on Iran nuclear facilities, citied discussions with ‘officials involved in the program,’ and went on to say that program ‘remains highly classified.’”

Source: Republicans on Leaks: Either President or Times Is Wrong | The Weekly Standard.

Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

From Investors.com

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

From The Week

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

From The Week

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

From Solid Principles

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

From Conservative Daily News

Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons

Editor’s Note: Above is a collection of political cartoons taking President Obama to task for his energy policies.

From Slate

Souece: Energy Tribune- Obama and Energy: Collected Cartoons.

Do-Nothing Democrats

Senate Democrats set to reject Ryan, Obama budgets

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BY: Andrew Stiles – May 16, 2012 5:00 am

Senate Democrats are poised to continue their impressive streak of budgetary negligence on Wednesday by unanimously rejecting as many as five different budgets, including the one offered by President Obama. Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping that voters will pick up on the disturbing trend.

The Democratic-led Senate has not formally proposed a federal budget resolution in more than three years, and is not expected to offer one Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) have made explicitly clear that they have no intention of doing so before the November election.

Senate Republicans plan to offer four GOP budgets—authored by Sens. Mike Lee (R., Utah); Rand Paul (R., Ky.); Pat Toomey (R., Pa.); and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.)—as well as the president’s budget. None of them are expected to draw any support from Democrats.

It would mark the second year in a row that Senate Democrats have unanimously opposed the White House budget proposal. The House of Representatives has already voted to reject Obama’s budget 414-0.

In total, members of Congress have cast more than 500 votes in favor of what is widely seen as the official Republican budget (Ryan’s) and zero in support of the president’s plan.

It is a sign, Republicans say, that Democrats are not serious about solving what experts have called “the most predictable economic crisis in history.”

“They simply don’t want to be held accountable,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) told the Washington Free Beacon. “Either they don’t have a plan, or they are totally unwilling to tell the American people what their plan is.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said he thought the latter was true. “I actually think they do have a plan,” he told the Free Beacon. “Their goal is to increase spending and increase taxes. But that plan will be rejected by the American people.”

“If they believed their plan was popular, they’d want to put it out in front of people, vote on it, and brag about it,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “That’s not what they’re doing. They’d rather run for reelection without the American people knowing what their vision of the budget would look like. It’s one thing for me to say their plan is unpopular. That’s what they’re saying.”

Democrats have been particularly reticent to propose a credible plan to reform federal entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, despite the fact that these programs are the primary drivers of the national debt. Medicare’s trustees project that the program will be insolvent by 2024.

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that, even if Congress were to enact President Obama’s latest budget, “We would still be left with … what are still unsustainable commitments in Medicare and Medicaid.”

Obama pledged to make entitlement reform a priority as a candidate in 2008. “We’re going to have to take on entitlements, and I think we’ve got to do it quickly,” he said during a debate moderated by NBC. “I can’t guarantee that we’re going to do it in the next two years, but I’d like to do it in my first term as president.”

Nearly four years later, the closest thing to Medicare reform the president has offered is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a council of appointed “experts” given sweeping power to reduce federal reimbursements to healthcare providers. Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, has raised doubts about the board’s ability to control costs.

Ryan’s budget, on the other hand, proposes to save trillions of dollars by gradually transitioning Medicare from a “fee-for-service” model to a market-oriented “premium support” plan modeled after a bipartisan proposal co-authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.).

Democrats have countered by accusing Republicans of trying to “end Medicare as we know it”—a charge the nonpartisan fact-checking site PolitiFact rated “Lie of The Year” in 2011—and in one case by portraying Ryan as literally throwing the elderly off a cliff.

Geithner summed up the Democratic position on entitlement reform during a House Budget Committee hearing in February when he told Ryan, “we’re not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”

President Obama and his Democratic allies have been far more resolute in their determination to raise taxes. Obama’s most recent budget calls for nearly $2 trillion in tax increases over the next decade. Conrad, the Senate budget chairman, has indicated that a similar amount would be appropriate.

Raising taxes is not something on which many politicians are eager to base their re-election campaigns. Studies have also shown that it is a particularly ineffective way to solve a nation’s debt and deficit problems. One report produced by the American Enterprise Institute examined data from a variety of countries between 1970-2007 and found “strong evidence that expenditure cuts outweigh revenue increases in successful consolidations.”

The findings echo those of a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which concluded: “International experience shows expenditure-based fiscal consolidation tends to be more successful.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently concluded that the president’s budget, if enacted, would have a negative impact on long-term economic growth.

Ryan’s budget, on the other hand, simplifies the notoriously complex federal tax code by eliminating various loopholes and tax shelters while lowering tax rates.

Wednesday’s vote encapsulates what ought to be central issue in the 2012 campaign, Republicans say.

“This is an opportunity for the American people to assess the differences between the two parties,” a GOP budget committee aide told the Free Beacon. “We’re headed for financial disaster, and Senate Democrats are making no effort to take us off that path.”

“Republicans are actually putting forward proposals that are serious, that address the major challenges—on tax reform, entailment reform, spending reductions,” said another Republican aide. “Democrats have punted on all these issues.”

Few things better illustrate this lack of leadership more than unwillingness of Democratic lawmakers to support the president’s plan, Republicans say. Senate Democrats in all likelihood will vote in lockstep against every budget proposal, including Obama’s, and quickly move to change the subject.

“It’s a tear-off-the-Band-Aid kind of moment for them,” the GOP budget aide said. “They want to get it over with quickly so they can avoid a serious conversation about the budget.”

Even though Ryan’s budget, or any other GOP plan, has no chance of passing the Senate, Republicans want to use the moment to lay the groundwork for a winning political agenda.

“This is preparation for a Romney presidency,” Norquist said. “Republicans can line up and vote for an actual, written down budget. If Romney wins, they can turn and say, ‘I was elected to do this.’ That’s not something Obama could say about anything he did.”

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Fight looms over detainee provisions

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05/13/12 05:25 PM ET
By Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz

The House will re-ignite a debate this week that last year sparked public outrage and a White House veto threat: Can terror suspects on U.S. soil be detained indefinitely?

Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans are planning to push an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on the House floor next week that would strip out provisions allowing the military to hold terror suspects captured in the U.S.

 

The amendment would undo language from last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and go one step further to change the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Opponents of the detention laws warn that U.S. citizens are at risk of indefinite military detention if the law is not changed. Proponents claim the detention laws are a necessary tool in the fight against terror and last year’s bill merely codified current U.S. law.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) offered a fix to this year’s authorization bill granting habeas corpus rights to terror detainees.

But that didn’t go far enough for Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who are planning to offer next week’s amendment on detention.

“The problem isn’t Habeas; the problem is Americans being held without charge or trial forever,” Amash told The Hill.

The issue of military detention and U.S. citizens touched a nerve in the public last year, receiving wide coverage and getting attention from “The Daily Show” as it was debated in the Senate.

At issue is striking a balance between fighting the war on terror and guaranteeing due process rights in the Constitution.

Analysts who study military law have said that the executive branch already has authority to detain U.S. citizens.  The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on whether citizens captured on U.S. soil could be detained indefinitely.

After the White House’s veto threat over detainee provisions in last year’s defense bill, lawmakers opted to water down the language. Despite the compromise, Obama issued a signing statement that said he would not detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who is backing Smith’s amendment, argued that the signing statement would not prevent future administrations from using indefinite detentions.

“The problem is emphasized in the president’s signing statement, which paraphrased said basically, ‘While this power may exist, I won’t use it,’ ” Garamendi said. “But will your successor use it? That’s what we want to get at.”

Supporters of the detention provisions argue that the military needs the ability to detain terrorists indefinitely to gather intelligence and prevent attacks. Republicans have opposed efforts to turn military suspects over to civilian courts, which the Obama administration has sought to do.

“Do I believe that language and the NDAA is a perfect protection of the liberties we cherish? Probably not,” said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), who had problems with last year’s Defense authorization bill’s detainee provision.

“We’re having this debate because there’s a threat,” Landry said. “If the threat was eliminated there would be no need for the debate.”

Landry opposes Smith’s amendment, however, because he feels it’s too broad in covering anyone captured on U.S. soil, and not just American citizens.

Landry said the changes McKeon made to the detention language this year granting habeas rights to terror detainees satisfied his concerns from last year’s bill.

“What people were looking for was to ensure that there was some sort of due process when the executive detains someone,” Landry said.

A Republican House aide said Smith’s proposal goes too far with unintended consequences to the president’s traditional war powers, including providing an incentive for terrorists to come to the U.S. because they would have more rights here.

A sneak preview of next week’s floor debate on the issue played out in the Armed Services committee early Thursday morning as the authorization bill was marked up.

Smith offered and then withdrew an amendment that will be nearly identical to the one he’s introducing on the floor next week.

“It is very, very rare to give that amount of power to the president [and] take away any person’s fundamental freedom and lock them up without the normal due process of law,” Smith said.

“Leaving this on the books is a dangerous threat to civil liberties,” he added.

Republicans, however, pushed back in the other direction, as Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) added an amendment to the bill that puts more restrictions on releasing Guantanamo detainees.

His amendment bumped up the Pentagon’s notification requirement to Congress to 90 days from 30 before releasing Guantanamo detainees.

Garamendi and Amash said they were optimistic that the amendment could pass on the House floor as it had support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Amash pointed to 43 Republicans who voted against the authorization bill last year, stemming from concerns about indefinite detention.

“This cuts across the entire spectrum of the Congress,” Garamendi said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good shot, and the public has really taken hold of this issue.”

But Landry, who said he’s had a number of productive conversations with Amash on the issue, was skeptical. He argued that the public concern — and his own — was covering American citizens and due process laws, and Smith and Amash are going beyond that by covering anyone captured on U.S. soil.

The authorization bill is due to go to the floor this week, and the Senate will be marking up its bill later this month, where the detainee debate is also likely to arise again.

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