The New Hampshire General Court will consider a Tenth Amendment Resolution during the 2012 legislative session.
HR25 affirms state powers as delegated by the U.S. Constitution and the New Hampshire Constitution respectively, and calls for nullification of unconstitutional acts.
Representative Daniel Itse (R-Fremont) serves as the primary sponsor. The resolution has eight co-sponsors.
The resolution begins with a pronouncement from the New Hampshire Constitution.
The Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 1, Article 7 declares that the people of this State have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in Congress assembled.
After listing specific powers delegated to the federal government and declaring the exercise of any other power void within the state of New Hampshire, the resolution concludes with words taken almost verbatim from Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.
That the New Hampshire house of representatives urges its co-States to charge to one if its committees with the duty communicating the preceedings of its Legislature in regard to the government of the United States of America to the corresponding committees of Legislatures of the several States; to assure them that this State continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness, and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness, or prosperity of these States; and that therefore this State is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.
While a resolution does not carry the force of law, it serves as a gateway to more aggressive state action against unconstitutional federal acts down the road. The general often leads to the specific. Passage of the Tenth Amendment Resolution would send a message to Washington D.C. and if supported by the citizens of New Hampshire, would likely embolden lawmakers in the state to support specific nullification bills in the future.
“Some people argue that these resolutions don’t really matter because they have no teeth. They don’t change anything from a practical standpoint. But we’ve seen a pattern since 2008. States pass these kinds of resolutions and it’s kind of like the proverbial gateway drug. It reminds state lawmakers that they do have not only the responsibility, but also the power, to interpose and stop the federal government from shoving unconstitutional acts down the peoples’ throats. While they certainly aren’t a cure-all, Tenth Amendment Resolutions serve an important function and send an important message. We’re glad to see the New Hampshire General Court take this up and we hope they get it passed,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said.
For this reason, the Tenth Amendment Center strongly encourages New Hampshire citizens to call their representatives and ask that they support this resolution. You can find contact info for your representative and senator HERE.
To track Tenth Amendment Resolution bills across the U.S., click HERE.
For model Tenth Amendment Resolution legislation, click HERE.