A Surprisingly Well Done Nullification Op-Ed in Florida

When one of the remaining deans of Florida newspaper reporters writes an opinion piece about the Tenth Amendment that isn’t historically false, insulting and agenda driven, we take notice.

In his Tallahassee.com op-ed It’s time to start talking about the 10th Amendment, the highly acclaimed retired Tallahassee Democrat reporter Bill Cotterell writes, “Recently, though — and not just since Obama’s election — we’ve seen increased instances of states wanting to reject federal mandates. Surprisingly, and inconsistently, the Obama administration has gone along with some of them.

“The legal basis for this resistance is the 10th 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…’ Nobody really knows what that means. James Madison, who proposed it, thought the idea was so obvious that Ye Olde Bill O’ Rights didn’t need to spell it out, but some state legislatures were reluctant to ratify without a guarantee of their own powers.”

Of course, at the Tenth Amendment Center we know exactly what that means. Still,this is an excellent and open minded opinion, and a welcome change from the diatribe and mythology that has emanated from the likes of the Heritage Foundation, CATO and just today, Reason.com.

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Alternative to University Research Funding for NSA Projects

Many think university research is funded by tuition and student fees. This is false. In fact, research in colleges (both public and private) gets most of its funding through federal grants.

In scientific research, a majority of these federal grants comes from the NIH, NSF, and DoE. Some of it comes from private sources, but most flows from federal sources. And private funding becomes harder to get every year. The Ghostbusters line sums it up: “Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.”

This being the case, getting universities to stop accepting federal grants that promote NSA won’t be easy and will call for some creative thinking. But it’s not and impossible task.

What we need is funding competition.

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CATO Chairman Says States aren’t Sovereign

The New York Times published on September 3, 2013 an article written by Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, on the “limitations of nullification”.  I have had the honor of having personal discussions with Mr. Levy on several issues and even had the opportunity to debate him on the issue of nullification in a forum in South Florida.  It will be no surprise to Mr. Levy that I disagree with his opinion. Opinions aside, I would like to have the opportunity to present the facts.

Mr. Levy’s main premise is that the States have the option to not agree and not enforce federal law, but they do not have the ability to prevent the federal government from enforcing its laws within the States.

“That’s because federal officials are authorized to enforce their own laws, even if they cannot compel the states to do so. Thus, on the second point, the nullifiers are wrong: states cannot impede federal enforcement of a federal law merely because the state deems it unconstitutional. That is up to the federal courts.”

Mr. Levy’s premise is flawed and a mere review of the facts makes that clear.  This country was built upon the foundation of free, independent, and sovereign States.

“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…”  Lee Resolution June 7, 1776

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William Jacobson on Natural Born Citizens

From earlier this month, William A. Jacobson (Legal Insurrection) has this impressive post — actually a long scholarly essay — on the eligibility clause: natural born Citizens: Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz.  Short version: he thinks there is not a clear case for ineligibility of any of the three.  (Quite an impressive set of comments too, although the vitriol runs pretty high).

My thoughts are here (regarding Cruz).

As to Jindal and Rubio, I think there is no substantial textualist/originalist argument against their eligibility, as they were both both in the United States (although to non-citizen parents).  Whatever else it did, English law considered a “natural born subject” to be anyone (other than the child of a foreign ambassador or invader) born within English territory, without regard to the citizenship of the parents.  Absent evidence to the contrary, it seems appropriate to read the constitutional language in light of its English predecessor. 

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