Fighting For Liberty at the Local Level

During the 2013 legislative session, we saw an explosion of state nullification bills dealing with issues ranging from heath care, to the Second Amendment, to NDAA detention.

Out of this renewed interest in nullification, a grassroots movement continues to grow and flex its muscles. Realizing they need to bring more pressure to bear on reticent state lawmakers, nullification advocates have taken the movement down to the local level.

Over the last several months, led by grassroots activists across America, city councils and county commissions have passed resolutions and ordinances in support of the Second Amendment and blocking NDAA detention provisions. Some bodies have passed legally binding legislation prohibiting local cooperation with unconstitutional acts. Others have approved non-binding resolutions supporting state efforts. Both strategies send strong messages to state lawmakers and will increase pressure to pass state-level nullification bills in the next legislative session.

Activists in Colorado serve as a powerful example of what local grassroots activism can accomplish.

At least six local governments in the Rocky Mountain State have passed resolutions supporting the right to keep and bear arms. These include the Weld County Commission, El Paso Board of County Commissioners, the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners, the Mesa County Commission, the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners and the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners.

Jeff Maehr hopes to harness the momentum created by these grassroots efforts and coordinate county level efforts across the state to nullify unconstitutional acts.

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Pennsylvania Town Makes First Move To Preserve The Second Amendment

Local resistance to unconstitutional violations of the Second Amendment continues to grow with the Mt. Holly Springs, Pa. council passing a resolution declaring that its citizens have the right to own firearms “free of unreasonable restraint and regulation.”

Council members voted unanimously May 14 to pass a resolution affirming the rights of its citizens to keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment Preservation Resolution was based upon the Tenth Amendment Center’s model legislation and was proposed by resident Chris Rietmann. As reported in an article the Cumberland Sentinel, Reitmann explained why he proposed the bill saying, “I believe that the Framers of the Constitution chose their words carefully and, for the most part, it has worked very well for us for the last 200-plus years. I don’t believe you can legislate natural rights.”

The resolution is non-binding, and the city council chose to set aside a proposed Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance that would have nullified any federal gun control laws within city limits. The council sent the ordinance its legislative council for review.

Rietmann said the goal of the ordinance was to forbid borough officials, including the police, from assisting the federal government in carrying out what he called “acts that deny local residents their Second Amendment rights.”

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Warrantless Drone Surveillance Banned in Tennessee

On Monday, Governor Bill Haslam signed The Freedom of Unwarranted Surveillance Act, into law. This bill was introduced by Senator Mae Beavers, and had a roller coaster adventure through the legislative process. But it eventually passed – unanimously – in both state houses.  The tally was 32-0 in the Senate and 91-0 in the House.

The new law states that drones are prohibited with the following exceptions:

(1) To counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States secretary of homeland security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk;
(2) If the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone; or
(3) If the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life. (a very high bar in legal standards)

A party aggrieved by a violation of this bill may initiate a civil action against a law enforcement agency to obtain all appropriate relief, as determined by the court, in order to prevent or remedy a violation of the new law. Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this new law will not be admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in the state.  Any law enforcement agency that uses a drone, or other substantially similar device to gather evidence or obtain information, must comply in all respects with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and article I, section 7, of the Constitution of Tennessee.

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MaddowBlog Smackdown Revisited

Steve Benen over at the MaddowBlog came back for round two after apparently realizing some things he didn’t know that he didn’t know.

After his last post on nullification, North Carolina Tenth Amendment Center state chapter coordinator William Kennedy roughed him up pretty good. And a post by Jonathan Adler over at the Volokh Conspiracy schooled him too. That got Benen’s attention, so he brought in “big gun”  law professor extraordinaire David Gans, the director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center.

Of course, big guns don’t do much more than make noise when loaded with duds.

Benen  rolls out a strategy typically used by keepers of approved opinion. First they try to make the unapproved idea go away with some conventional wisdom spoon-fed with a healthy dose of ridicule. If that fails, they bring in some guy with impressive credentials to couch the same fallacious conventional wisdom  in academic language.

So, let’s take a look at a few of Gans’ assertions.

“Nullification was a 19th century theory, identified most closely with South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun…”

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Why Your Representatives are Not Representing You

In the time I have spent in the field of public policy, I’ve noticed people  like to post on social media platforms, talk about, or blog about how their representatives do not represent them, or do not wish to hear their concerns and suggestions. It also seems many people generally treat public policy with great distaste. They make it their objective to deter people from voting, from “working within the system”, and from attempting to “change things from within.”

These folks are understandably angry because of a perceived lack of representation and diminishing faith in the constitutional system.

They may have a point. But how many times do you think those individuals have actually gone out of their way to communicate with their local or state representatives? How many people actually spend time working to direct change? How many people, out of the millions in our republic, actually spend time talking about solutions with their representatives?

Maybe part of the problem is that we aren’t proactive enough.

Our elected officials pack their days with committee hearings, floor sessions, speaking engagements, radio/television interviews, and press conferences. It’s reasonable to assume that their time is at a premium. So, if you want good representation, you need take the time to schedule a meeting. Then show up prepared with an objective, a solution, and a positive attitude. This will go a long way toward developing a strong two-way relationship with your representative. They aren’t used to this kind of effort, and it WILL have an impact.

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Michigan Action Alert: Help Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

Michigan House Bill 4455 is a bill to nullify warrantless surveillance and armed drones. HB4455 has been sitting in the Criminal Justice Committee since March. Your help is needed to move this bill forward.

HB4455 prohibits any law enforcement from storing biometric data from non-target suspects, ensures proper destruction of surveillance collected, and any surveillance obtained outside of this law may not be used as evidence in a court.

Please call and email your representatives. Tell them you want HB4455 to be voted on as soon as possible.

Action Items for HB4455.

1. Contact the Committee Chairman. Politely ask him to schedule HB4455 for public hearing and vote.

Kurt Heise (517) 373-3816 KurtHeise@house.mi.gov

2. Contact the other members of the Criminal Justice Committee. Strongly, but respectfully, urge each of them to vote YES on HB4455.

Joseph Graves (517) 373-1780 JosephGraves@house.mi.gov
Kenneth Kurtz (517) 373-1794 KennethKurtz@house.mi.gov
Mike Callton (517) 373-0842 MikeCallton@house.mi.gov
Ed McBroom (517) 373-0156 EdMcBroom@house.mi.gov
Margaret O’Brien (517) 373-1774 MargaretOBrien@house.mi.gov
Klint Kesto (517) 373-1799 KlintKesto@house.mi.gov

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Texas Senate Passes Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying, 29-1

A bill has passed through the Texas State Senate that aims to protect the privacy of their residents from the police state by instituting strict limitations on the use of unmanned drones in surveillance by law enforcement.

Dubbed the ‘Texas Privacy Act’, H.B. 912 is an attempt to rein in potential abuses related to the rapidly-developing drone technology that has made its hands into the hands of government at the state and federal levels. The bill was originally authored by Rep. Gooden (R-District 4) and has amassed over 100 co-sponsors since it was introduced Feb. 1, showing vast and bipartisan support for stopping the government’s Orwellian takeover of our skies.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10th. (roll call here)  And last Friday the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the bill by a vote of 29-1. (roll call here).  HB912 will now go back to the State House to either concur on the amendments or form a conference committee to approve a final version acceptable to both the House and Senate.  Then it’s off to Governor Perry’s desk for a signature.

BILL INFORMATION

The bill states that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image.” The offender would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they were caught violating this part of the law.

Data gathered by law enforcement illegally ‘may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding’ according to the bill and ‘is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.’ This incentivizes police to not misuse the drone technology unless they wish to risk jeopardizing their entire investigation.

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Nullification 101: A Intro to Defending Liberty

The federal government is out of control, unable to limit its spending or satisfy its insatiable appetite for consuming the people’s liberties.  And these tendencies seem to get worse with each election.  Americans are starting to wonder whether or not Washington will ever fix itself.  But, what if it didn’t need it to?  What if the states held the power to hold Washington within the limits imposed on it by the Constitution?  More and more people are coming to the realization that, through nullification, the states can do just that.  But this concept, although rooted in history, is still new to many.  Here are some common questions about nullification, the answers to which serve as an excellent introduction to this important, long-forgotten principle.

What is nullification?

Nullification is the principle that the individual states have the authority to refuse to comply with unconstitutional federal laws.

What is it based on?

Nullification arises from the understanding that the states, by ratifying the Constitution, brought the federal government into existence for a few specifically enumerated purposes.  The powers that were delegated to it by the states in the Constitution are understood to be the only powers that Washington possesses.  As such, it cannot legally do anything that is not specifically given to it as a power.  This understanding was formalized by the Tenth Amendment.

Is it constitutional?

The Tenth Amendment 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.”  Although the writers and ratifiers of the Constitution understood that the states retained all undelegated authority, the Tenth Amendment was added to ensure that this could never be challenged.

While nullification is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, several key figures in early American history, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, openly supported the idea that states could refuse to comply with unconstitutional laws.  Furthermore, it makes no sense to believe that the Founding Fathers would have added the Tenth Amendment and then made its enforcement unconstitutional.  With this in mind, nullification is simply the manner in which the states can enforce the Tenth Amendment.

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