The federal government’s power grab over states’ rights continues unabated as evidenced by United States v. Pleau, this time in the State of Rhode Island. For the federal government or the people of the State of RI, there is no question of Jason Pleau’s guilt in the 2010 murder of gas station manager, David Main; nor does there appear to be any question that his act was premeditated. Pleau plead guilty and was sentenced in Rhode Island to life in prison without parole to avoid a federal writ called “habeas corpus ad prosequendum” which was obtained by U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha.
Rhode Island’s governor Lincoln Chafee refused the request under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IADA) to release the prisoner for a federal trial because of the governor’s stated opposition to capital punishment. On May 7, 2012 the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, upheld the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum where: 1) given the Supremacy Clause, the states have always lacked the authority to dishonor a writ of ad prosequendum issued by a federal court, and compliance is not merely a matter of cooperation that the governor may withhold; and 2) under United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340 (1978), if a state has never had the authority to refuse the writ, the IADA does not provide it. But have they? Have the states “never had the authority” as the First Circuit Court of Appeals claims above in referencing U.S. v. Mauro?
The answer to that question can be found in our Constitution, specifically the Tenth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause themselves, which the feds are citing. First, the Supremacy Clause, which 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.” Citizens who are well versed in the contents of our founding documents know that a key phrase in the Supremacy Clause is the phrase, “which shall be made in Pursuance thereof.”
A constitutional law is one that is made in pursuance of the Constitution. A law which is not made in pursuance of the Constitution is not, in fact, a law; but is ‘null, void, and of no effect’. Such a law also violates the Tenth Amendment which states, “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.” In 1798, referring to the federal government, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers….a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.” [emphasis added]Details