The Folly of a Convention of the States

There is an increasing call as of late to get states to sign on to the idea of commencing an Article 5 convention to change the Constitution of the United States of America. The people who support this say that the states need to initiate this action so we can rein in the federal government’s corruption. They propose to put term limits, a balanced budget amendment and an amendment limiting the power of the federal government. This idea is heavily flawed. What this idea will really do is allow the criminals we have in office, and their handlers, to change the Constitution to suit their purposes. There are some changes to the Constitution that could be good for America, but this is not the time to allow our politicians in office the keys to the Constitution.

Here is Article 5 for reference:

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

The real problem we face is the ignoring of the Constitution. Most of what Washington DC does is unconstitutional by definition. The very existence of most of the departments and agencies that we have now in Washington DC prove that. The Federal Reserve for instance. Congress is delegated the power “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin”. They have illegally allowed the Federal Reserve, a private corporation, to wield this power. The Congress passing “laws” to change the Constitution is by definition unconstitutional. Only through an Article 5 convention could this power be changed, because the Constitution itself needs to be changed.

Add to that list the Departments of Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Housing and Urban Development. None of these departments are authorized by the Constitution and exist unlawfully. The problems we face are employees of the federal government not abiding by their oath to office and their complete disregard for the Constitution of the United States of America.

Article 5 of the Constitution was written for one reason, to change the Constitution. It has nothing to do with making our government employees comply with the law. It is not an enforcement mechanism for the people. It exists simply to change the Constitution when good ideas need to be enacted.

Instead of working to make our government employees follow the law, these people think that changing the law is the proper course of action. If this was the sum total of the action I would say go for it. But it is not. When a convention is called by the states, no one knows what will be proposed. The Convention of States Project completely ignores or gives out misinformation to allay the people’s fears. They state that their applications are binding and that only items stated in the applications can be addressed. That is a lie. Refer back to the Article itself for clarification on this point. “shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments”. When the convention begins is the time that amendments are proposed. There is no truth in the binding of delegates nor of a limited convention.

There has never been a convention called by the states under our current Constitution. Every amendment has been proposed by Congress and ratified by the states. The closest thing that we have witnessed in our history was the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which gave us our current Constitution. Originally described as a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation, it was rapidly turned on its head and became a convention to give us a new Constitution. The same thing could happen today with a convention of the states.

Even more alarming in 1787 was the ratification process for the new Constitution was changed. Under the Articles of Confederation, all of the states, 100% of them, had to agree to changes to make them law. In the Constitutional Convention they changed that to 3/4 of the states, or nine states out of the thirteen. In modern times a new Constitution could be created and the ratification process along with it. Is our Constitution so flawed it needs to be replaced or even changed? Or is it the rejection of our Constitution by those in power which is the problem?

The purpose as stated by the Convention of States Project was originally three fold- term limits, balanced budget, and the limiting of federal power. They have changed their tune depending on the state legislature they are soliciting. Two out of these three items are already found in the Constitution but are being ignored. These idea presented by the convention of states project are the window dressing to fool people into supporting this misguided effort.

Term Limits. We already have term limits, it is called the vote. The electorate is the problem here, not the Constitution. We the people already have the ability to term limit our elected officials but for whatever reason we choose not to in most cases. If we did get a term limit amendment it would do nothing to make the people already in office comply with the law. Changing out 535 elected officials of the federal government will do nothing to rein in the other 1,7000,000+ employees that are already employed at the federal level.

Balanced Budget. Article 1 Section 8, the enumerated powers of Congress, already covers this topic. We have Congress funding entities which are not prescribed by the Constitution. Where is healthcare in Article 1 Section 8? How about Planned Parenthood? Common Core? How about infrastructure repair? None of this is found in Article 1 and is thus unconstitutional and funding unconstitutional entities is breaking the law. Even worse, the idea of a balance budget ignores the unlawful nature of these entities. This amendment would allow for the funding of these unconstitutional agencies and departments in defiance of the words already contained in the Constitution. Why do we need another amendment for the our elected officials and their minions in Washington DC to ignore or use as an excuse for unlawful activity?

Limiting power of Washington DC. The whole of the Constitution describes what a lawful government is. Where in the Constitution is the Administration for Community Living, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau, Amtrak, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, the Chemical Safety Board, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the Commission of Fine Arts, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Council of Economic Advisors. the Council on Environmental Quality, the Delta Regional Authority, the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security, Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Employment and Training Administration, Energy Information Administration, Energy Star Program, Environmental Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States just to name a few ( I stopped at “E” under federal agencies listed by the government at https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/a ) authorized by our Constitution? They are not. It has been a slow but steady creep to create the unconstitutional bureaucratic monstrosity we witness today.

Then there are some agencies that are in direct conflict of the Constitution. The Bureau of Land Management for instance. The Constitution is quite clear the land that the federal government is allowed to own. Article 1 Section 17 describes what the lawful ownership of land is to be:

“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings”

And yet they are still funded by the criminals in office in defiance of their oath to office and the Constitution itself. The Bundy’s were correct in their assessment of the BLM.

Our government is out of control. What we are witnessing is over a century in the making. We have allowed the government to ignore the Constitution and the results are leading to the destruction of our republic. There are no easy fixes. Changing the Constitution will do nothing to make our government comply with the laws. But it will allow the people who want to fundamentally change the United States of America an opportunity like no other.

Now is the time to fight this foolishness. Do you want the 2nd Amendment removed like former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens? Maybe you just want to have it clarified like some in the COS project have stated? The only way to legally do so would be holding an Article 5 Convention. There are no easy fixes to the problems we face as a nation. A convention of states at this time could have dire consequences with the benefit, IF everything goes correctly, being very minimal. Just say no.

Join me at Constitutional Cappuccino to get plugged into a website that is all about the education Americans need to move our country back to its proper trajectory. My new book “Patriot Ammo: The Words Behind Our Flag” is also available and teaches of our founding documents and principles. The book would make a great present for anybody 16 and up.

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The Commerce Clause Explained

The misuse of the “Commerce Clause” is one of the most frequent attacks on the Constitution of the United States of America that our federal government utilizes. It has been used to justify car regulations, gun free zones, and Obamacare among other things. This simple clause has been perverted to push an agenda of big government corruption, control, and cronyism. What originated as a simple idea has morphed into one of the most intrusive excuses government uses for its unconstitutional activities.

The Commerce Clause is part of Article 1 Section 8 and reads: “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;”

This has a clear and simple meaning. Commerce is defined as “an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals, either by barter or by purchase and sale.” It is trade. Any commerce between the states is subject to the federal government, and if a state has an issue with another state, it is the proper place for the federal government to decide the issue. That is it. The free flow of goods and services across state lines is important to the health and vitality of this country.

What the state does within its boundaries is not rightfully subject to the Commerce Clause. By giving the federal government a say in the interstate commerce between the states, it eliminates most of the motive for one state to take advantage of fellow states because they know that these actions will not be tolerated. If this was left up to the individual states, then problems could arise. This was the case in early America.

Our federal government now says that it can now regulate any activity which has a substantial impact on the economy. This has come to include the regulation of anything that crosses state lines and the process which created the product or service. It has also come to include the means by which items are moved across state lines. Trains, buses, cars, and trucks are now regulated, and the justification is the commerce clause.

In a spectacular repudiation of common sense and the Constitution (not the first nor the last time), the Supreme Court in 1943 ruled in Wickard v. Filburn that a farmer who had grown too much wheat in violation of the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 was guilty of interfering with interstate commerce. The original idea that farms could be limited in their production came from the commerce clause.

But, in this case, the farmer, Wickard, had grown an extra 12 acres of wheat, not for resale but to be used to feed his own livestock. It was the court’s decision that his growing of this wheat affected the market because it kept him from having to use the market to purchase the grain he needed. This was where the idea of Congress having power over any activity that has a substantive effect on the economy was born.

This decision was cited in the majority decision (not of Roberts, who wrote his opinion alone, but the rest of the court’s majority) authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the case of NFIB v. Sebelius where it upheld the individual mandate of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  The “logic” used was that people not buying insurance detrimentally affected the market by their omission from it and could be fined to encourage them to participate. So, instead of regulating commerce, our government dictated how individual Americans are supposed to act and spend their money. This is a result of interpretations of interpretations by the courts giving new and unsupported powers to the federal government.

Another travesty that most do not know about is the relationship between gun free zones and the commerce clause.  In 1990, Congress passed the Gun Free School Zones Act citing the power of the commerce clause to do so.  This was found to be unconstitutional in the landmark Supreme Court decision, United States v. Lopez.

The government argued its case by citing that the power to regulate guns in a school zone was important because the possession of a firearm in a local school zone substantially affected interstate commerce because violent crime would raise insurance costs, and those insurance costs affect commerce. They also stated that violent crime reduces individual’s desire to travel to high-crime areas within the country, thus affecting commerce.

Finally, they stated that crime threatened the ability for children to learn, thus reducing national productivity and negatively affecting commerce. Thankfully the Supreme Court got this decision right, but it shows how pliable the commerce clause is now in the hands of the Congress, and it demonstrates how Congress manipulates the Commerce clause to have a much broader meaning than our founders or their words intended.

Back to the structure of the commerce clause and the use of “and.” Does it make sense to think that our government can limit the production of wheat from a foreign farmer because it affects commerce here in the United States? Is it logical to believe that our Congress can make laws governing the proclivity of guns in a foreign country because it will affect commerce here? That is the power of the “and” in the clause. Anything that is argued that gives Congress the power over the states through the commerce clause must be just as applicable to foreign nations.

The original intent of the commerce clause is plain to see for anyone who knows our history. During the time when the Articles of Confederation were in place, some states erected trade barriers to their fellow states. The purpose of the commerce clause was to eliminate these trade barriers and create free trade among the states. What it has morphed into in the interim is fully repulsive and not supported by the Constitution.

I previously mentioned Wickard v. Filburn. How did we get to the point in this nation that the federal government can tell farmers how much of a crop they can grow and also compensate them for not growing crops? How can the federal government get involved in the internal workings of an individual farm and tell the farmer what to grow and in what quantities?

Where is this found in the Constitution?

It is not found in the document. It is the use of case law and interpretations of interpretations which have led away from its clear and simple meaning.  A simple statement concerning the regulation of commerce among the several states has morphed into the federal government telling farmers how to farm. It has morphed into the federal government telling car manufacturers how to make cars. It has turned the federal government into the national toilet dictator. The federal government tells you what light bulbs you are ALLOWED to use and what kind of food you are ALLOWED to eat. The federal government now tells families how much of their lifetime earnings they are ALLOWED to give to their descendants through the inheritance taxes. Where is ANY of this found in Article 1 Section 8? None of it is found there.

This, and most of what Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court does nowadays is unconstitutional. Why do the American people allow this activity? The Declaration of Independence offers an answer:  ” All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

For a few, that threshold is already attained. For most others it has not yet been reached. Let us hope we can start to effectively address the challenges we face as a nation before extreme measures must be taken to protect our way of life.

Join me at Constitutional Cappuccino to get plugged into a website that is all about the education Americans need to move our country back to its proper trajectory. My new book “Patriot Ammo: The Words Behind Our Flag” is also available for sale and educates the patriot in the ways to uphold and defend the Constitution from attack. The link takes you to a free preview of the first chapter of the book.

Remember: Education is the cornerstone of liberty.

Article 2 Section 2: Why War is Necessary: Not What you Think

I have just seen another story that misrepresents the whole war powers argument. Both stories I read were from reputable sources and both stated that Article 1 Section 8 clause 11, which states “To declare War,Grant Letters of Marque and reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water” under the enumerated powers of Congress was end all be all of war. That is not true. When people understand the whole truth it makes much more sense and reveals a lie that has been spread for decades.

Article 2 Section 2 tells the rest of the story. It reads: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”. That means simply that the President is only the Commander in Chief when there is a war that is declared. The Congress is the one who declares war and they are in charge of the military the rest of the time.

The idea is simple. When there is no war the armed forces should not be deployed. They need no immediate leadership to guide them through important situations. This time would be used organizing and training the troops. But when war is declared, it must be one person who leads the military. War by committee has some awful drawbacks with the most serious being quick decisions that may be needed. It is not that the President was thought to be going to the front lines but there needs to be a civilian authority who oversees the big picture of what needs to be done. He is the one to make the decisions that affect the course of the war effort. The President is also checked by the Congress if he gets out of control. Congress can easily take back control of the military with a vote. This is a major check and balance.

The Founders never envisioned the President being the full time Commander in Chief. The whole idea of the War Powers Act and the use of AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force) is in violation of the simple meaning of the Constitution. On this point the document is quite clear. It is not convenient for those who want aggressive actions taken, but that is how the Constitution is structured.

When war is declared a number of things change. Enemy combatants become a reality. Interactions with the declared enemy becomes illegal. The rules on the high seas change and many other lawful acts are initiated. There is much upheaval caused when a war is declared in addition to the actual fighting. One other interesting point,  it is recognized that after a declaration of war that the enemies are given a chance to make amends before hostilities can commence.

Washington DC wants it both ways. No declaration of war but a way to initiate hostilities when convenient. A President who is in full time control of the military, taking the burden off of Congress. The power to tell the President when he can go into battle without declaring a war. In this the press has been complicit. How many times have you heard the President referred to as the Commander in Chief? The United States has not declared war since 1941 initiating our entry into WW II. That is the last time a President has rightfully been the CIC.

I write this because President Trump has just taken the action of sending missiles against a sovereign country, Syria. There has been no declaration of war. The United States is supposed to take the high moral road but in this case like so many others as of late we are breaking our own laws to invade a sovereign country. Our blatant statements about regime change are repugnant to this American. Unless it is a threat to the security of our country then American lives nor resources should not be expended. In cases of true threat or where we need to engage in war then we declare war and fight accordingly. We should respect the sovereignty of other countries like we want our sovereignty respected.

Atrocities were committed in Syria. That is not being questioned. What is being questioned is how relevant the Constitution is anymore. I fear for our future if we continue to disregard the Constitution of the United States so often and so completely.

It’s All About Liberty- Time for Americans to Act Like Americans Again

The only reason that we have been such a prosperous and free nation as we have experienced is because of the Constitution of the United States of America. As we move away from those ideals we see the results. Prosperity has been replaced with poverty. Freedom with dependence.

The solution is an easy one. Getting people to listen is the hard part. Too many snake oil salesmen over the years have burned too many. Pledges from both political parties have been broken too many times for them to be believed. It is time that the American people wake up and realize that it is they who will turn this country around- not politicians. If you think that the presidential election is going to change anything then you are lying to yourself. Washington needs to abide by the Constitution. It will never do that on its own.

Understand that our federal government is way out of control. Thanks to a many years of prosperity and people disengaging from the political process the incremental takeover of our government is nearing completion.

Woodrow Wilson really started the push for what we see today with the 16th Amendment (taxation), the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators) and the creation of the federal reserve. The idea that administration needed to be separated from politics began under Wilson and is what we see today in Washington DC- A multitude of agencies that are ever increasingly controlling the day to day lives of all American. That is NOT the purpose of our government. No regulation without representation.

There are many ideals that this country was founded upon. Three ideas stand at the top. They are the reasons for the success of this country. They were revolutionary to many when introduced, eventually became the benchmark for liberty, and are currently under attack.

Our rights come from our Creator. We do not get rights from other men. We do not get rights from government. Our rights are inherent. Our rights are inalienable. They come from our creator. Government doesn’t give them to us nor can they take them away.

To secure our rights we form governments. That is the ONLY reason we tolerate government. Governments are historically THE biggest violators of human rights but they are also needed to form societies that can protect their people’s interests. The federal government we formed was one of specific enumerated powers. These can be found in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. REALLY simple to understand. Once read you can see for yourself how far off of the constitutional path we have veered.

Government derive their just power from the consent of the governed. No one is born to be king. No one is ordained to be a leader of the people. The people decide who their leaders are going to be. Kings and monarchs do not lead toward liberty. Every form of government can be plagued by bad leadership and a republic is no different.  The difference is in our republic those choices come from the people. We are responsible for our future.

And when I say Constitution, I mean in no small part the Bill of Rights. The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. The sentinel of our liberty. Those 10 amendments  which were not part of the original Constitution but were ratified 2 years after the fact. Those 10 little things which DO absolutely nothing but let us know when government is intruding into unwanted areas.  No rights are given by the Bill of Rights. The rights which were are enumerated are already ours. Remember from where our rights come.

If you are serious about doing something then take the time to get educated. At a bare minimum reread the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Those are the blueprint and proposal for what our country is all about. Neither will take more than an hour to read. They are the basis from where all arguments originate.

When the Declaration of Independence was written, a couple million people read it. When the Constitution was being ratified,most every American had read it so they could be relevant in the overwhelming conversation of the day. Both of these documents were written for the layman and have a clear and easily discernible meaning. No need to get lawyers involved.

It is time to reinvigorate these documents and unabashedly support and defend them once again. It is time people realize that the solutions to most problems we see today are contained in those two short documents. Stop being dependent on others to tell you what is right and proper. That is the reason we are at the precipice we are. Learn once again what it is to be an American. Freedom is not free. Liberty must be fought for.

Join me at Constitutional Cappuccino to get plugged into a website that is all about the education Americans need to move our country back to its proper trajectory. My new book “Patriot Ammo: The Words Behind Our Flag” is also available and teaches of our founding documents and principles. The book would make a great present for anybody 16 and up.

Constitutional Cappuccino- The 2016 Elections Part 1

Here is my latest podcast. I discuss the 2016 election process from a constitutional view. I talk about the continuing fear campaigns being waged by Trump and Clinton and how emerging parties like the Libertarians and the Constitution Party are important to the long term viability of our republic.

Constitutional Cappuccino Podcast- The Conservative Vision

This is podcast 5 from Constitutional Cappuccino. Take a look at past mistakes, add some common sense reform, mix n some SCOTUS wisdom and you have the essence of this podcast. It starts off a bit slow but when it hits its stride some great information and thoughts are given. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZQF2RwZPHw

State Sovereignty and Nullification

This is adapted from a pocket pamphlet that I wrote and distribute.

The states are the sovereign entities in these United States. Too many people have believe the notion that the federal government is supreme. That is a dangerous myth that needs to be dispelled. It is also responsible for many of the problems we see here in the United States.

I will start this story with the Lee Resolution. It was the law that made us free of Great Britain. It was passed on July 2, 1776 and stated:

Resolved, 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.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”

It recognized the sovereignty of the states. Notice that the word “state” is different than what we think of today. “State” in this context meant a sovereign country. Notice the term “State of Great Britain”. That is what is meant by “state” in this resolution. So it was resolved that the 13 colonies were free and independent states, what we consider countries in today’s meaning. Also note that at this point there was no federal government.

Move ahead two days. The Declaration of Independence was issued. This document described what our mission was and why the colonies were doing what they were doing. What most miss in this document is the last paragraph. In it the idea of sovereign states was spelled out once again.

“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.”

At this point the colonies are now the united States of America. The term “united” is not capitalized in the original document and is simply describing the situation of the states in America. They were united against the common threat of Great Britain and that they are free and independent states (countries) that have the power that any other sovereign country has.

Then the revolutionary War was fought. The Colonies triumphed. During the war, the Articles of Confederation were passed. It was agreed to by Congress November 15, 1777 and later ratified on March 1, 1781. The British surrender at Yorktown marked the end of warfare and the Treaty of Paris in 1783 formalized that arrangement.

After the war the Articles of Confederation were still in place. The states were still sovereign. One of the biggest problems faced by the new America was that the Articles of Confederation gave the federal government no real power to coerce states to meet their obligations. A large debt had be accrued during the war and the Treaty of Paris required American citizens , the states and the Confederation to recognize their debts to foreign entities. States were passing laws that protected their own citizens at the detriment to other states or just ignored the treaty provisions. Things were a mess.

So a convention was called for the states to come together to strengthen the Articles. When the Constitutional Convention met in 1783 it was quickly determined that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to the task and a new Constitution needed to be written. So that was accomplished and on September 17, 1787 the Constitution was approved by the convention.

We had a federal government that would be created when the Constitution was ratified by delegations of the states. It was important to the Founders that the state legislators endorsed the Constitution and that the it was not put to a popular vote. So it proceeded to be ratified in the states until a majority was reached and the Constitution was the law of the land.

What the Constitution created was a limited federal government, deriving its powers from the states that created it. Remember, to this point in history the States were recognized as completely sovereign. They had all of the powers of a modern day country. The Constitution DELEGATED certain ENUMERATED powers to the federal government. These powers were mostly “external”, powers that gave each individual sovereign state a common voice to talk to the rest of the world with. Instead of making 13 separate treaties with every country who wanted to deal with us, we had a united voice that spoke for all of the states. James Madison was most eloquent on this point.

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce; with which the last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.

Here is a copy of Article 1 Section 8 where those enumerated powers were described.

The Congress shall have the power

1. to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States:

2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States:

3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes:

4. To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States:

5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures:

6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States:

7. To establish post-offices and post-roads:

8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries:

9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court:

10. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations:

11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water:

12. To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years:

13. To provide and maintain a navy:

14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces:

15. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions:

16. To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress:

17. To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings: And,

18. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

This is what powers were DELEGATED to the federal government. This is all they are supposed to concern themselves with. The rest is left to the States and the people.

A very important side note. The Bill of Rights was not part of the original Constitution. It was determined by the majority in the Convention it was not needed. It was argued that the federal government created with its enumerated powers could not infringe on our natural rights. Some argued that by listing those rights that government would be able to interpret them. For instance a freedom of the press. No one would question the validity of this provision but future governments could redefine what “press” meant to circumscribe its protections. Others argued that the sovereignty of the states would insure that the citizens of the states were protected from the federal government trying to usurp the people’s natural rights.

When it came to ratification this argument for a Bill of Rights was one of the strongest that the Anti-Federalists had. The Anti-Federalists believed that too much power was ceded to the federal government. They believed that government tyranny and an erosion of state sovereignty would occur if the Constitution was ratified.

The Constitution was ratified but the debate on a Bill of Rights continued. Some were even calling for an Article 5 Convention to amend the new Constitution. The Federalists had overplayed their hand. James Madison took up the cause of a Bill of Rights and with urging from Thomas Jefferson introduced a Bill of Rights in the newly formed Congress. Many states had the protections of their natural rights spelled out in their State Constitutions. It became apparent that it was needed at the federal level to qualm people’s fears of federal tyranny. In 1791 enough states ratified them to be the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution.

Many people are familiar with the First Amendment, even more with the 2nd, then less is understood as you move down the list. The two that stand out and are the least understood are the 9th and 10th Amendments. The 9th Amendment states:

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

That meant even though it was not listed didn’t mean that a right was not retained by the people.

The 10th Amendment in my opinion is the Amendment MOST misunderstood or unknown by the American public.

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.”

Its meaning is quite simple. The delegated powers of the federal government are listed and that is all they can do. Anything else that needs to be done is handled by the states or by the people themselves. It reinforces the idea and practice of a limited federal government. It also supports the idea of state sovereignty and the retention of rights by the people.

Some will say that the federal government is supreme. They will even cite the “Supremacy Clause” in the Constitution to back up that erroneous assertion. The Supremacy Clause is located in Article 6 and states:

This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding. “

It does NOT state that any law created by the federal government is the law of the land. It states that the Constitution and laws made in PURSUANCE thereof are the law of the land. Unconstitutional law is not recognized as supreme. If our federal government tries to do something that is not in their enumerated duties then it is by definition unconstitutional and need not be followed. No state or person is liable to follow those laws. This is how our republic is supposed to operate. Through ignorance we have moved away from that ideal.

Some of the more desperate will say that the states gave up their sovereignty when they ratified the Constitution. This is a laughable assertion. Realize that the Constitution is a compact, a fancy word for a contract between sovereign powers. Those sovereign powers were the states. The contract was the Constitution. The creation of that contract was the federal government. The federal government was a product of this contract. The States delegated certain powers to the federal government. Nothing was given away.

Understand what “delegated” means. It does not mean to give up or give away. It means to allow someone else to use specific powers in your name. The best example of this is a simple restaurant model. Imagine a restaurant that serves burgers, fries and shakes. The owner of the business hires people to do these tasks. What would happen if the fry guy came in one day and decided not to make fries? Would the owner throw up his hands and say “Sorry folks, no fries today, the fry guy isn’t doing them”. Or would he fire the fry guy, hire a new one or maybe be the fry guy himself until someone else could be hired? Because the fry guy decides not to make fries, does that restrict the owner from doing it himself or finding someone else to do it? Does the fry guy own the right to make fries? Of course not. What happens if the fry guy decides he would rather make onion rings because some people want them? Can he tell the owner that he is now making onion rings? Another ridiculous question whose answer is emphatically NO! This example is no different than what is happening today in our country. Our federal government neglects tasks it is actually supposed to handle and performs tasks it is not allowed to do. The problem is the states allowing it to continue.

The federal government is usurping state powers by doing at lot of what it is doing. The Affordable Care Act, the E.P.A. and B.L.M. are some of the higher profile examples of these usurpations. These are functions performed by the federal government with no constitutional relevancy. Refer to Section 1 Article 8 as to the true responsibilities of our federal government. These others are functions that the states or the people rightfully should be in charge of. We have moved past that paradigm quite a while ago.

This brings us to nullification. Nullification is a state protecting its citizens ( interposition) from unconstitutional federal laws. We have seen states of late flexing their constitutional muscle. Colorado and Washington are two of the highest profile states in this category. They have made marijuana legal in their state in opposition to unconstitutional federal laws. This is what nullification looks like. Other states have jumped on the bandwagon. Kansas has The Second Amendment Protection Act which states

Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.”

The 18th Amendment (Prohibition of alcohol) was finally repealed because of nullification efforts. Some states refused to enforce the laws. It was common in areas to have the juries nullify cases by voting not guilty when these offenses came before them. It could not be enforced without the help of the people and the states.

Northern abolitionist states before the Civil War passed “personal liberty” laws with thwarted the federal fugitive slave act. Those people were not going to be party to slavery and they had their states supporting them. They didn’t repeal the fugitive slave act, they just didn’t participate or support it.

James Madison chimed in on this. (from the Virginia Resolution):

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 appertaining liberties to them.”

Thomas Jefferson had something to say also (contained in the Kentucky Resolution):

Resolved, that the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.

Nullification IS the constitutionally tried and true method to reign in government overreach. Realize that in every day terms how nullification works. The federal government requires assistance to further its attacks on American’s rights. The states up to this point have been their accomplices. In the states where nullification is taking hold, the local law and government forces are forbidden to aid and abet federal intrusion on the affairs of a state. Without this help the feds do not have the resources or manpower to support these operations. The other aspect is if the federal government is not doing a duty it is supposed to then the state is obligated to perform that duty until the federal government starts. It is that simple.

Nullification is the avenue to curb the federal government. Electing new officials to the juggernaut in Washington hasn’t helped reduce the size nor unconstitutional actions in government, no matter the party in power. Federal officials are hard to influence. They are distant and in most cases hardly seen by their constituents. State officials, however, are MUCH more accessible and influenced. I know where my state representative lives. My Representative also works in the area. He is very much part of the community and is accessible to the public. They invariably live among the people that they represent. More importantly, they are easier to influence and if need be replace than those at the federal level if they are part of the problem. An effort by a relatively small group of people can determine the outcome of a state election much more readily than a federal one. The bonus is the states do hold the power in our republican equation.

This is not a new idea. It is just one that hasn’t been taught in America for quite a while.

So the question naturally comes up, “What can I do?”. It is up to the people to right their own government. The government is not going to do it themselves.

Education. Learn about the Constitution. There are many places to get good information on the Constitution. Some of my favorites that I suggest are

1) KrisAnne Hall ( http://krisannehall.com/ ), a lawyer turned constitutional advocate. She travels the country talking to groups of people and state legislatures informing them to the truth behind our Constitution. She has a few books out and does a radio show.

2) The 10th Amendment Center ( http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/) is another great resource for all things nullification.

3) I also recommend Hillsdale College (http://online.hillsdale.edu/dashboard/courses) and their Constitution 101 and 201 courses. Very much like a college course, it is structured and filled with abundant amounts of information.

4) Read books. Research and find good books on the subjects of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and read them. Nothing like a good book for information.

Remember, true education takes time. Lots of time. Don’t forgo this step or your further efforts will be reduced in effectiveness.

Remember, education is a tool to be used to inform people so they can DO something. Simply learning something and doing nothing with the information is useless and simply a waste of time. While the more informed person is taking action to support the Constitution, state’s rights and nullification, newer members must be found and educated so they can take their place on the front lines to bolster their numbers. This process should be a basic model for activism. New people must always be added to keep groups vibrant and successful.

Social media is a good avenue to disseminate information. Find like minded people and make connections. Facebook and twitter are great avenues to use to get the message of liberty out.

Find groups in your area where like minded people meet. Go to meetings. Make connections and see what people are DOING. Lots of people talk but unfortunately do little more than talk. If you can’t find any effective groups then start your own. I recommend attaching yourself to other established groups to further the cause of liberty but sometimes they simply don’t exist in your area.

Most importantly, don’t be silent. Speak up whenever appropriate to support the ideals found in the Constitution.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”