Refreshing the Spirit of Liberty
Posted by Walt Garlington
It is remarkable just how much the situation of the states today resembles the situation of the colonies prior to the War for Independence with Great Britain.
As our Patriot forefathers before us, we are met with a corrupt, distant government – theirs in London, ours in Washington, D. C. – intent on concentrating all power within itself by perverting the plain meaning and principles of the Constitution from which it springs. Our duty, like theirs, is to “return to the first principles of the constitution and reform it” as needed with prudent amendments. (Bradley J. Birzer, paraphrasing Charles Carroll – a little known but important Founding Father, in his book American Cicero: the Life of Charles Carroll, P. 93)
But first we must make the case – as did our ancestors – that our government has grown despotic. To do this, let us together examine some of the charges against King George III and Parliament found in the Declaration of Independence and see if presently we experience anything similar.
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” The recently enacted federal health care bill will create 159 new federal bureaucracies (which must now be staffed) and calls for the hiring of 16,500 new IRS agents to enforce its insurance mandate provision. The Cap and Trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2009 requires an “energy audit” by a federal inspector before a house may be sold.
“Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” From TEA Parties to phone calls and e-mails to townhall meetings, citizens from every state have cried out for a halt to grinding debt and an ever more intrusive federal government, only to be ignored or insulted by the Congress and the president.
“…declaring themselves with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.” The EPA’s recently implemented rule allowing it to monitor and regulate greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and methane, which are generated by nearly every activity of humans and animals, because of the supposed threat they pose to the planet’s climate (when do we assemble the elite team of EPA agents to shutter the worst atmospheric polluters of all – Earth’s volcanoes?) is the most similar in spirit to Parliament’s Declaratory Act (1766) to which the quote above alludes.
We dishonor the legacy of our forefathers and bring reproach upon ourselves if we acquiesce any longer in schemes that swell the power of government (whether at the federal level, or the state, parish, or city level), that make us more dependent on it, that militate against our ancient, inherited rights and duties.
In defense of so valuable a patrimony, state and local governments must recover the courage they once had to nullify unjust, unconstitutional laws; citizens must be willing to disobey them; and juries must be ready to acquit those who are found guilty of breaking them. (This is known as jury nullification, an almost forgotten concept nowadays but seen as a bulwark against tyranny by our Founders.) Hear Charles Carroll on this point: “Not a single instance can be selected from our history of a law favourable to liberty obtained from government, but by the unanimous, steady, and spirited conduct of the people.” (American Cicero, P. 72)
Despite recent setbacks for the American people in our efforts to rescue liberty from the grasp of government, our history does affirm Carroll’s claim, starting with the defeat of the 2007 amnesty bill for illegal immigrants and stretching back to the colonists’ revolt against the Stamp Act of 1765 (a tax on many kinds of paper documents, from almanacs to diplomas to mortgages – and extending even to playing cards and dice). The colonists’ reaction against the Stamp Act was so fierce and determined that the British were unable to enforce it with any consistency, leading to its repeal by Parliament the next year.
So do not grow weary of the contest, Louisiana and all you states. Join in the work of your local Tea Party, the LA State Sovereignty Committee, the Tenth Amendment Center, or some other liberty-minded group. Carry within your patriot hearts the virtues of fortitude, perseverance, and patience, and, with God’s blessing, we will see our constitutions and governments properly reformed and the spirit of liberty refreshed.
Walt Garlington is the founder of the Louisiana State Sovereignty Committee.