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Would States Secede to Protect Their Citizens?

By Alan Caruba

Many, if not most, Americans are unaware that the nation is composed of separate republics with their own constitutions. They are, of course, the individual states.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved respectively, or to the people.” – Tenth Amendment

By tying compliance with federal laws and regulation to receiving funds, the states have been coerced to accept programs that limit freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and the passage of Obamacare is but one example. Some twenty states have refused to set up the mandated insurance exchanges. Obamacare grants the government complete control over the provision of medical care that every American has formerly received from the free market health system that it destroyed. It gives the federal government control over our lives in terms of who lives or dies.

As noted on the website of the Tenth Amendment Center: “The Founding Fathers has good reason to pen the Tenth Amendment.”

“The issue of power – and especially the great potential for a power struggle between the federal and the state governments – was extremely important to the America’s founders. They deeply distrusted government power, and their goal was to prevent the growth of the type of government that the British has exercised over the colonies.”

“Adoption of the Constitution of 1787 was opposed by a number of well-known patriots including Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others. They passionately argued that the Constitution would eventually lead to a strong, centralized state power which would destroy the individual liberty of the People. Many in this movement were given the poorly-named tag ‘Anti-Federalists.’”

“The Tenth Amendment was added to the Constitution of 1787 largely because of the intellectual influence and personal persistence of the Anti-Federalists and their allies.”

Their worst fears are coming true as the nation heads into 2013. In just four years, the Obama administration, through its profligate borrowing and spending, has brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse and, as we have seen, the refusal of the President to negotiate anything than the current Band-Aid to avoid the “fiscal cliff” for another two months, has brought the nation to a point where the collapse of the U.S. dollar is not just imminent, but likely.

When that occurs the individual states may elect to secede in order to avoid having the federal government nationalize their National Guard units or take control of their state police to enforce whatever measures it might take to control the population. Individual state law enforcement authorities in cities and towns would need similar protection. Reportedly, massive amounts of funding have been directed to them to ensure their cooperation.

It would be a means to protect their citizens insofar as state constitutions grant the same rights as found in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. It would not surprise me to see Texas lead the way. Others would follow.

You know things are bad when historians like Arthur Herman, writing on the January 3 Fox News, says that “Washington’s Republicans and Democrats alike have become the toll collectors on the road to serfdom.” Citing recent riots in Argentina, Herman said that “Argentina reveals who really suffers when those who create a nation’s wealth get mugged by those who spend it—as just happened this week in Washington.”

If the private sector manages to rally this year, it may buy some time before the midterm elections in 2014. A letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune summed up the problem neatly. “Let’s look at what we have learned from this election: Twenty-one of 22 incumbent senators were re-elected, and 353 of 373 incumbent members of the House were re-elected. The American people have re-elected 94 percent of the incumbents who were running for re-election to an institution that has an approval rating of about 9 percent. This indicates, as an electorate, we are a nation of idiots. We’re now stuck with the useless, dysfunctional government that we deserve.”

The U.S. Constitution was written in the wake of the failure of the Articles of Confederation, the first attempt to unite the states for the common good of the growing nation. It is the product of some of the finest minds, the most dedicated advocates of liberty, to gather in one place at one time. It is the oldest, living Constitution in the world. It was adopted on September 17, 1787 and ratified in June of 1788.

On December 17, 1791, the first ten amendments—the Bill of Rights—were ratified. It is a list of immunities from interference by the federal government and the fears of the Founders are now being borne out by a government that is too large, borrows and spends too much money, and has departments such as the Homeland Security that threaten the rights of free speech, travel, and other freedoms. Every U.S. citizen is now subject to government surveillance more typical of a totalitarian government than one that respects and protects their personal security and rights.

This is why the United States could find itself in a rebellion that will rival the causes of the Civil War, itself a state’s rights conflict in addition to the issue of slavery that had hung over the Constitution since its ratification; an effort to “kick the can down the road” the Founders agreed to in order to get it ratified.

It is not beyond the imagination that a deliberately created crisis would prompt individual states to withdraw from the Union to protect themselves and their citizens, otherwise known as “the people.”

© Alan Caruba, 2013

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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