Maryland residents and activists speak out against the NDAA

by , People’s Blog for the Constitution

Residents and activists of Takoma Park, MD, petitioned the city council to adopt a resolution which would affirm constitutional freedoms and reject the indefinite military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Human rights know no national or jurisdictional boundaries,” said Jim Kuhn, a local resident and member of the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition(MCCRC), a coalition that BORDC helped bring together. [It's] the special responsibility of local officials to protect our human rights, and our rights of due process, when they are being ignored or abused by federal or state authorities.”

Signed by President Obama on the last day of 2011, the NDAA codifies into law military detention without charge or trial for any person suspected of a “belligerent act.” Under the auspices of mere suspicion, any person—citizens and non-citizens alike—can now legally have their constitutional freedoms revoked without any due process or proof of wrongdoing, thanks to the executive powers granted by the NDAA.

Priya Murthy, policy director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT),explained at the city council meeting why this causes particular worry among racial and religious minorities:

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Federal Funds for Cleaning Up Abandoned Mines

An article in the Wall Street Journal offers another example of the problem with the federal government tackling issues that should be left to the states to resolve. Congress passed a law in 1977 requiring coal companies to pay a fee that was to be used to help the states clean up abandoned mines. As is often the case, the distribution of funds to the states has been distorted by politics:

Wyoming officials figured they would get large payouts every year because their state was producing so much coal. But the money had to be “appropriated” by Congress, meaning lawmakers had to vote each year on who would receive it. That often didn’t happen, so a lot of the money sat unused, including hundreds of millions of dollars that Wyoming officials believed belonged in their state.

In 2006, as parts of the law were set to expire, Sen. Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) won passage of a measure that allowed the money to flow as “mandatory” spending, meaning it didn’t have to be voted on by Congress each year. In addition, it allowed Wyoming, three other states and three Native American tribes to use their money, including funds not distributed in prior years, with virtually no strings attached. Those four states and three tribes were certified as having taken care of their most severe abandoned coal mine problems. Other states had to use the money more narrowly for mine problems.

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SCOTUS and the EPA vs Private Property

On March 21, TAC reported that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of an Idaho couple who had been petitioning the court system to be allowed to make their case concerning EPA administrative heavy handedness. The post, U.S. Supreme Court: Idaho Couple can take EPA to Court, reported that the couple had been directed by the Environmental Protection Agency to restore their newly acquired home construction plot back to its original state or face stiff fines. The EPA would not allow an appeal, or even a hearing.

Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution enumerates the main powers delegated to the federal government, specifically those of the Legislative Branch. An original understanding makes it clear that the Constitution does not authorize Congress to form a federal agency which can dictate what people can do with their private property. Just as it has no authority to demand the American people purchase something, Washington D.C. has no power to tell us what to do with personal or real property we own.

Utah, Colorado, Nevada and many other western states are neighbored by separate “federal states” which cannot be utilized for their own taxing purposes or to access the natural resources that reside within them. This is due to the fact that the federal government had either grabbed up the land when the state first entered the union, or had purchased it by some means. Regardless of how it was acquired, the federal land is within the state, and the people of that state cannot utilize it, in most cases.

Federal ownership of the land creates no benefit to the state itself. As U.S. Government Property, it is considered a resource of the U.S. Federal Government. In some instances, such as the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, the area has been deemed A UNESCO World Heritage Site and is “legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its Articles, Protocols and Customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law”. Our Congress had to ratify that UN treaty. “While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site”.

How is that for giving away Sovereignty?

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