In direct violation of the Tenth Amendment, states are losing more of their sovereignty to the federal government every day. Last week, social networking sites were aflame with complaints from drivers in Fort Worth, Texas, who got a surprise when stopped at a nighttime checkpoint (see the details here). There, drivers were asked by local police to submit to a cheek/saliva swab, breath analysis, or even a blood test to participate in an on-going survey conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Notice the involvement of local police officers.
Survey roadblocks done earlier this past summer in Alabama caused a similar uproar. According to one report (here), a senior staffer in Alabama’s Governor’s office claimed that no one in any official capacity had approved the roadblocks. This comment was supported by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who stated that he had only learned of the roadblocks by subsequent news reports.
But again, it was off-duty local police participating in the roadblocks.
As an interesting aside, one of PIRE’s private donors is none other than George Soros’ Tide Foundation. There have been no reports regarding whether drivers were informed of this fact when asked to participate in the survey.
Since the U.S. Constitution does not provide for anything like traffic safety, it is difficult to understand why the feds are involved in this issue at all. Further, one wonders how the feds garner local support (with or without cooperation by state government) since there is little evidence that these surveys actually benefit the individuals being surveyed, or anyone, for that matter.
If the feds can arrange information-gathering searches on the populace like this, where do we draw the line? And who draws the line? Who protects us little guys from the big bad feds?
State and local governments should.
There is a little-known stop-gap measure known as the doctrine of interposition. The doctrine of interposition holds that lower-ranking civil government officials must place themselves between higher-ranking civil government officials who are attempting to enforce an evil law, policy, decision, etc. and the people under the lower-ranking civil government official’s authority. Interposition, ideally, acts as a multi-layered wall of protection for the individual.
This idea holds weight historically. Madison clarified the division of powers between the central government and the state governments in Federalist Papers No. 51:
In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.
This double-system of government—that is, federal and state—was to serve as protection for the people in America. Officials of the state would resist power grabs by central government, protecting the individual in the process. In Federalist No. 28, Hamilton states:
It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority. Projects of usurpation cannot be masked under pretences so likely to escape the penetration of select bodies of men, as of the people at large. The [states’] legislatures will have better means of information. They can discover the danger at a distance; and possessing all the organs of civil power, and the confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the community. They can readily communicate with each other in the different States, and unite their common forces for the protection of their common liberty.
However, none of this can work if individuals don’t understand the system and dedicate themselves to the preservation of their own liberty. Continuing in Federalist No. 28, Hamilton goes on write:
The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them…in a confederacy the people, without exaggeration, may be said to be entirely the masters of their own fate. Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress.
The first things state and local governments need to do is stop cooperating with federal programs that violate the Constitution. In the case of these traffic checkpoints, state legislatures should direct state and local law enforcement to stand down. There should be no local police, no county sheriff’s deputies and no state law enforcement officers involved. If states would simply quit cooperating, many of these constitutional violations would not happen. The feds don’t have the resources. They depend on state and local help.
How far we have strayed from this ideal! On its own, the Fort Worth traffic stops may not seem like that big of a deal, but when combined with the federal takeover of law enforcement through the COPS program, education through Outcome-Based Education (OBE)/Common Core, and health care through the Affordable Care Act (just to name a few), it becomes clear that we have a problem: the multi-layered wall of protection seems to have crumbled. Who is standing between us and them?