Live Free, Whether They Want us to or Not.

Alex Jones hosts Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, to talk about California’s new law resisting NDAA indefinite detention. They discuss James Madison’s advice on how to stop federal power – including NSA spying – and cover some of the recent developments in the 10th Amendment and Nullification movement around the country.…

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Why Doesn’t the Tenth Amendment Center Endorse Political Candidates?

politicianMany of the liberty-minded and tea party groups in Tennessee and across the country are gearing up for the 2014 elections. Groups and coalitions are forming up to “beat this guy” or “elect that gal.” This is all well and good. Getting good people who understand constitutional principles into office and keeping them there is a noble and important endeavor.

Not surprisingly, the Tenth Amendment Center gets constant requests to endorse candidates, or join coalitions to choose candidates to run for a particular office. A few months ago, a Tennessee state politician offered the Tenth Amendment Center $1,000 to support a campaign for federal office. Needless to say, the offer was flatly refused.

The Tenth Amendment Center does not endorse candidates or politicians, and it never will.

Here’s why.

People aren’t infallible.

First, people disappoint. With rare exceptions, even politicians that start out with the best of intentions and a commitment to their principles become corrupted over time with access to power. It’s a given that no human being is perfect or infallible. That’s why we maintain our allegiance to the ideals and principles of the Constitution – never politicians.

While we work with a elected officials to accomplish our goals, we are adamant about maintaining our objectivity and independence. Suppose a politician runs a good Tenth Amendment bill, then turns around and does something incredibly stupid. An endorsement implies that we support all aspects of a politician’s policy initiatives. But by maintaining our objectivity, we can praise elected officials when they do the right things, and call out politicians when they stray.  Keeping our distance from campaigns keeps us from getting caught in the predicament of having to ignoring bad behavior because of an endorsement.

Chasing every barking dog…

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A Follow-up on the Guarantee Clause

Regarding this post on the guarantee clause challenge to Colorado’s anti-tax initiative, Derek Muller writes:

I had two quick follow-ups, if you’re interested in exploring further. First, don’t you think that “the United States” might include the federal courts of the United States? That’s why I’m reluctant to peg nonjusticiability on the first Baker factor. Second, do you have any thoughts on Colorado’s claim that the Guarantee Clause cannot be enforced against the state governor, but must be enforced (if at all) against “the United States”?

My thoughts:  (1) In my initial post, I argued that the phrasing of the guarantee clause (“The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government”) indicates a textual commitment to the political branches, thus making the Colorado case a non-justiciable political question.  Professor Muller is right that the best response is that the federal courts are part of “the United States” and thus share the duty of enforcing the guarantee.  I’m not persuaded for several reasons.

First, the reference to “the United States” seems like a direction to the United States as a whole, in its sovereign capacity, not a direction to each individual component of the U.S. government.  That is similarly true of the word “guarantee”, which is not typically used to describe what courts do. And that conclusion seems particularly appropriate because the clause is potentially very intrusive on federalism; read broadly, it would make the federal courts overseers of the political systems of the states.  This is not likely a role the framers envisioned for the federal courts; rather, it is much more likely that they designed the guarantee as a mechanism that required the participation of the states collectively (through the Senate).

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The NSA is a Stalker

In a revelation that should be a surprise to nobody, The New York Times recently reported  that the NSA conducted a secret program that collected the cell phone data of Americans in order to track their location.

This program ran from 2010 to 2011 and used data from cell towers to track the location of users’ cell phones, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Essentially, the NSA was using phone data to virtually follow people.

An official familiar with the test project said its purpose was to see how the locational data would flow into the N.S.A.’s systems. While real data was used, it was never drawn upon in any investigation, the official said. It was unclear how many Americans’ locational data was collected as part of the project, whether the agency has held on to that information or why the program did not go forward, according to the Times.

The program is now allegedly discontinued, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) does not feel that we know the whole truth about it.

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