By Phil Zimmermann, originally posted at Wisconsin Republic
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required citizens of the free states to capture and return escaped slaves. Wisconsin lead the charge against this despicable federal legislation through nullification and widespread non-compliance.
The Wisconsin Legislature passed a nullification resolution declaring the Fugitive Slave Act to be “without authority, void, and of no force.” The Wisconsin courts as well declined to prosecute Wisconsinites who refused to comply with the law.
Justice Smith of the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in 1854:
But the real danger to the union consists, not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the constitution. It is much safer to resist unauthorized and unconstitutional power, at its very commencement, when it can be done by constitutional means, than to wait until the evil is so deeply and firmly rooted that the only remedy is revolution.
Today the Federal government again threatens civil rights. The Patriot Act and the Orwellian NSA surveillance state have all but destroyed the 4th amendment. The IRS and DOJ targeting of political groups and journalists seems bent on destroying the 1st amendment as well.
Against this backdrop Wisconsin Rep. Michael Schraa has introduced legislation to address the significant efforts being made to limit our ability to protect ourselves and our families, as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.
“This bill, the Firearms Freedom Act, sends a simple message to the federal government,” said Schraa (R – Oshkosh). “Wisconsin will not help you take away our second amendment rights.”
Schraa’s legislation targets the overzealous interpretation of the interstate commerce clause that the federal government uses to claim it can regulate all commerce. The legislation makes it clear that a firearm that is manufactured and housed in Wisconsin cannot be considered part of interstate commerce.
This clearly has implications that extend beyond firearms.
This is a major milestone as it is the first time in modern history, that we are aware of, that a Wisconsin representative has introduced legislation to directly confront the federal government on a constitutional issue.
It’s Time to Speak Up
Perhaps, in the grand tradition of the Wisconsin abolitionists of generations gone by, the introduction of this legislation will inspire the good people of Wisconsin to once again take a stand for civil rights.
Be sure to share this legislation and, perhaps more importantly, the broader concept of nullification with your friends and family. Get in touch with your representatives and make sure they know your position on this issue.
Perhaps the second amendment is not your most passionate issue? That’s OK. There are enough attacks on civil rights these days that you are sure to find one that you care about.
Find the issue that is most important to you and let your representatives know it is time Wisconsin acts to protect its citizens. Our civil rights will not defend themselves.