Rhode Island Legislation would Legalize Marijuana, Nullify Feds

 R.I. lawmakers Rep. Ajello and Sen. Nesselbush to introduce matching bills to legalize marijuana

Providence, R.I.: February Following on the steps of voters legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington last fall, Rhode Island State Representative Edith Ajello and State Senator Donna Nesselbush have introduced companion bills on Wednesday February 6th to legalize marijuana and establish a system where it is taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

The new law will partially nullify the Federal drug war against marijuana that has unsuccessfully raged for approximately 70 years and seen countless people sent to prison. State lawmakers have already passed legislation, effective April 1, to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, making it a civil violation. But the new bills would go further, making possession of limited amounts legal for adults 21 and older.

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Remember thy Declaration of Independence

Lincoln said the Declaration of Independence is the apple of gold, while the Constitution is the mere frame of silver.

Lincoln meant that the Declaration lays forth the natural law of just government, and the Constitution is the framework to protect and carry out the Declaration’s principles.

In many respects the Declaration’s principles have been abandoned. Individualism, liberty and personal responsibility have been replaced with the religion of government, statism and paternalism. We now operate in a world where government grants us rights instead of their being inherent in our humanity.

This has lead to constitutional interpretation that, for the most part, broadly construes grants of government authority and strictly construes citizen rights; exactly the opposite of the Declaration’s and the Constitution’s core meanings.

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Rhode Island House Rejects Indefinite Detention

On Tuesday June 12, 2012 the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a Resolution in opposition to the new Federal government kidnapping powers in the NDAA. As this is a House resolution, no other legislative action is required for transmission to the Federal Government, including the entire Rhode Island congressional delegation that voted for the NDAA. Currently five other states have passed laws or resolutions in response to the NDAA. Rhode Island Rep. Dan Gordan shepherded the resolution to obtain over half the House of Representatives as cosponsors, and won final passage 52-15.

The final Resolution states in pertinent part:

“The indefinite military detention of any person in the United States without charge or trial violates Article III and the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Constitution of the United States;”

The Resolution also states that the NDAA’s “authorizing the indefinite military detention of civilians captured abroad far from any battlefield violate the laws of war by which the United States is bound and which it helped to establish, and harm our Nation’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and democratic values; these civilians should be prosecuted in our federal courts if there is evidence of wrongdoing, not detained without charge or trial;”

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Ending Indefinite Detention Through Nullification

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, the Tenth Amendment Center, in partnership with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Demand Progress, held a joint media conference to brief journalists about national momentum against NDAA detention powers. The following is what was introduced by Blake Filippi at the start of that conference

NOTE: Blake Filippi will be a featured speaker at Nullify Now! Philadelphia. Get tickets here – http://www.nullifynow.com/philadelphia/ – or by calling 888-71-TICKETS

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My name is Blake Filippi, director of the Rhode Island Liberty Coalition and spokesman for the Tenth Amendment Center.

In 1850, when Congress passed what was known as the “Fugitive Slave Act,” the federal law compelled people of all states to assist federal agents with the apprehension of suspected runaway slaves and brought all trials involving alleged fugitive slaves under federal jurisdiction. It included large fines for anyone who aided a slave in their escape, even by simply giving them food or shelter. The act also suspended habeas corpus and the right to a trial by jury for suspected slaves, and made their testimony non-admissible in court.

This was an atrocity.

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new-shoreham

Five and Counting: New Shoreham RI Rejects NDAA

            Less than one month ago I petitioned the New Shoreham (Block Island), Rhode Island, Town Council to pass a resolution in opposition to section 1021 of the NDAA. In 2003 the Council passed a resolution in opposition to the Patriot Act, so I knew they would give my petition a fair shake.

            Thankfully, the Town Council righteously passed the resolution tonight; which demonstrates the great utility in local governments to fight unconstitutional Federal acts. State legislative bureaucratic morass slows the passage of legislation. Citizen disconnect mitigates individual legislator’s accountability for failure to act. Conversely, local governments move fast and the limited number of council members eliminates plausible deniability for failure to act. Local leaders live in the communities they represent, and are held to account for their action, or inaction, daily.

            Included in my petition to the Council were two great resources available to all citizens: 1) the model resolution drafted by us here at the Rhode Island Liberty Coalition and our friends at the Tenth Amendment Center and 2) the model letter to local governing bodies. I also published a copy of the model letter in the local New Shoreham paper which brought out concerned community members and publically put the onus on the Council.

            The beauty of the resolution is that it comprehensively lays forth exactly how the NDAA offends our fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. It educates and sets the table for a productive meeting. The model letter is a great resource because it answers the question that many local governing bodies have; why should local bodies act and not just leave it to the state legislatures or Congress? The compelling answer is that local councils have taken an oath to uphold the constitution, they have the ability to respond to unconstitutional acts, and thus, they must.

            At the first Town Council meeting last week, the counselors were well informed and asked all the right questions. They pointed to the provision of section 1021 that seeks to preserve existing law and authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens and legal aliens, and asked; does this not protect individual rights? I responded that the laws and authorities are not clear, and importantly, the office of President, under both Bush and Obama, has professed the authority indefinitely detain U.S. citizens as enemy combatants under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force. I pointed to the Padilla case, where the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the President may indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen as an enemy combatant. Padilla had been held in military detention for 3.5 years with no trial. Thereafter, the Supreme Court refused to consider the appeal after Padilla was transferred to civilian jurisdiction, invoking a sharp rebuke from three Supreme Court justices. 

            In my opinion, the Supreme Court was derelict in its duty to consider the issue and perpetuated the grey area of authorities NDAA section 1021 seeks to preserve. I argued that there should never be any vagueness or grey area concerning the fundamental rights the NDAA purports to eviscerate.  Moreover, the jurisdictional game the Office of President played with Padilla undermines its credibility in dealing with purported enemy combatants. Under the Padilla precedent, the President can simply hold another U.S. citizen for 3.5 years and then transfer him to civilian jurisdiction in order to avoid Supreme Court review and establishment of concrete authority concerning the President’s powers under the 2001 AUMF and the NDAA.

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Act Now: Tool to Help Say NO to NDAA Kidnapping

The following is a sample letter text that you can use to send along with NDAA Nullification legislation (HERE) to state and local legislators in your area.

Dear ______,

Please accept this constituent-petition containing draft legislation to nullify the unconstitutional 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (“2012 NDAA”). As a local leader, it is up to you to defend our liberties from unconstitutional and anti-liberty acts by the Federal Government. I implore you to introduce and pass this most necessary legislation.

Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA purports to authorize the President to designate as an enemy combatant any U.S. citizen or legal resident alien found within the United States that the President suspects “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”  Those covered by section 1021 are unclear and it is subject to abuse because it is not limited to individuals directly responsible for terrorism or belligerent acts; it applies to vague ‘substantial support’ for undefined ‘associated forces.’

The NDAA does not even provide the citizen or legal resident alien a forum to contest the President’s determination of enemy combatant status. Section 1021 then purports to authorize the President to utilize the military to detain and dispose of those U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens according to the Law of War, including: (1) indefinite detention without charge or trial until the end of hostilities, (2) prosecution through a Military Commission, or (3) transfer to a foreign country or foreign entity.   Indefinite military detention without charge or trial, military tribunals, and the transfer to a foreign jurisdiction of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens subverts civil authority to the military and defies our most fundamental liberties and Due Process forged in the Rhode Island Constitution and the following sections of the United States Constitution;

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