Should We Obey All Laws?

by Walter Williams

Let’s think about whether all acts of Congress deserve our respect and obedience. Suppose Congress enacted a law – and the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional – requiring American families to attend church services at least three times a month. Should we obey such a law? Suppose Congress, acting under the Constitution’s commerce clause, enacted a law requiring motorists to get eight hours of sleep before driving on interstate highways. Its justification might be that drowsy motorists risk highway accidents and accidents affect interstate commerce. Suppose you were a jury member during the 1850s and a free person were on trial for assisting a runaway slave, in clear violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. Would you vote to convict and punish?

A moral person would find each one of those laws either morally repugnant or to be a clear violation of our Constitution. You say, “Williams, you’re wrong this time. In 1859, in Ableman v. Booth, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 constitutional.” That court decision, as well as some others in our past, makes my case. Moral people can’t rely solely on the courts to establish what’s right or wrong. Slavery is immoral; therefore, any laws that support slavery are also immoral. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”

Soon, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare, euphemistically titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There is absolutely no constitutional authority for Congress to force any American to enter into a contract to buy any good or service. But if the court rules that Obamacare is constitutional, what should we do?

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Fantasies of Liberty

This piece by Columbia Tribune Titled Nullification a Right Wing Strategy, shows the level of illiteracy and indifference people have regarding the Constitution in specific, or just issues of liberty, in general.  In an article that apparently is attempting to make fun of Missouri’s latest attempt to check the unbridled expansion of the federal leviathan, the Columbia Tribune shows their statist colors. Throughout the article, columnist Henry J. Waters III spews misunderstandings, fallacies and silly stereotypical cartoon images of the ongoing battle to restore the Republic.  We here at the Tenth Amendment Center would be remiss to let the article stand without setting the record straight!

First of all, he starts out identifying nullification as a “right-wing” strategy.

“This whole idea of nullification typifies the current state of myopia gripping many conservative politicians. It is a civilized version of tactics used by people holed up in remote cabins with guns ready to defend themselves against any interloper.”

The fact is, that in recent years the most consistent and successful nullifiers are on the left.  Medical Marijuana and Hemp legalization are by far the most frequent nullifications to date.  Real ID is another frequent nullification, all of these where started in opposition to primarily Republican policies.  Firearms Freedoms Acts and Obamacare nullifications are fairly new by comparison.

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Does America still need a president?

California headed toward “nation state” status when it moved to link its carbon markets with Québec’s. But as Douglas A. Kysaw and Webb Lyons report in the Huffington Post, as much as California may envision itself a global player, “the fact remains that it is a state, and as such operates under a set of constitutional restraints that limit its involvement on the international stage.”

Has the American Presidency become an anachronism? Does centralized government today hinder the progress of mature states like California? Ours has become a government of political tribes and generations, not states – that idea was killed in 1913 by the 17th Amendment. But centralized government may soon become a thing of the past. Tea Party is not just for us New Hampshire hillbillies any more. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie have signing on.

California and Quebec ignore both American and Canadian governments and go ahead together as free states and regions. As governor, Schwarzenegger pioneered this approach.

Schwarzenegger declared California to be the modern equivalent of the ancient Athens and Sparta. “‘We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state,” he said in his inaugural address. “We are a good and global commonwealth.”

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