Podcast: Play in new window | Download Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey spent an hour talking with the Forgotten Men about the Patriot Act, NSA spying, the specter of indefinite detention, government secrecy and other threats to liberty flowing out of the “War on Terror.” As you’ll hear, the subject stirred a…Details
The TRUTH about nullification is that it is legitimate, and it is the only way to effect a meaningful check on the federal government when the executive, legislative, and judicial branches unite on an incorrect interpretation of the Constitution, and threaten the independence of the states and the reserved rights of the People.
The federal government CANNOT be permitted to hold a monopoly on constitutional interpretation. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, as Madison and Jefferson warned in 1798-99, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other limits on government power. Nullification has always been available to push the government back within the boundaries of the Constitution, but for too long, those hostile to the Constitution have insinuated – FALSELY – that the doctrine was the reason for the Civil War and for segregation, thereby trying to use shame to invalidate it.
We should take a cue from Patrick Henry. While others were celebrating the Constitution and rejoicing that a more effective compact was created, Henry urged them to cool their heads and take a step back – to look carefully at the document they were asked to ratify. It was his opinion that the government created by the Constitution would tend to concentrate power, strip power from the states, and become no better than England’s monarchy (“it squints toward monarchy”). He urged Virginia to reject the Constitution. He reminded the delegates that trade, power, and security should not be the first concerns on their mind. He said the proper inquiry should be “how your liberties can be better secured, for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.”Details
Conservative commentator Mark Levin has created quite a buzz with his latest book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.
Levin argues for an Article V constitutional convention with the purpose of passing 11 amendments. Some of the proposals include term limiting judges and members of Congress, repealing the 17th Amendment, amendments to limit federal spending and taxation, and an amendment to limit federal bureaucracy.
The Framers provided two methods for amending the Constitution. The second was intended for our current circumstances—empowering the states to bypass Congress and call a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Levin argues that we, the people, can avoid a perilous outcome by seeking recourse, using the method called for in the Constitution itself.
Readers will find plenty to debate in Levin’s book. Will these proposals actually work to limit federal power? Are these the absolute best amendments to consider? Will the American people rally to the cause with enough vigor to push the amendments to ratification? Some will even question to wisdom of calling an Article V convention in the first place, arguing that the risk of a runaway process further empowering the federal government outweighs any potential benefits.
While I find any legitimate proposal that could lead to limiting federal power worth debating, I question those who view amendments as a silver bullet, especially those who reject nullification as a viable path toward stopping DC’s relentless usurpation. The federal government absolutely refuses to acknowledge any limits on its power and follow the Constitution as written. What makes anybody think the feds will suddenly give up power because we slap down some new rules? Do people really believe the federal government will suddenly become constrained and release its grip on power just because we pass some new amendments, essentially saying, “We know you’ve ignored every constraint on your power and authority for the last 100 years, but dammit, we really mean it this time!”Details
Freedom and popular government in Britain and America became possible because over the course of many years the English House of Commons, and later the American colonial legislatures, were willing to exert the power of the purse to discipline an overreaching executive.
In Britain, the House of Commons—Parliament’s lower chamber—sometimes defunded the executive in order to curb it. The House was willing do this despite threats from the Crown and “bad press” from the English establishment. In America, the colonial assemblies were willing to defund the king’s governors to check their power.
Freedom likely would have been impossible without the constancy of the “people’s houses,” led by great parliamentary leaders like Edward Coke in England and Patrick Henry in America.Details