New Jersey Fights to Preserve Electoral College

After the 2000 presidential election which George W. Bush won the majority in the Electoral College but lost the national popular vote, another attack on state soverneinty has gone largely unnoticed.  This time it is coming from an organization called National Popular Vote Inc., who describes their effort as a  “reform” the Electoral College. 

The agreement among the states pledges the electoral votes from each adopting state to the winner of the the national popular vote, regardless of the popular vote in that state.  A statement on the group’s website reads “The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation’s voters for the president of the United States.  The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election”.


Benton McMillin?

Benton McMillin? What, you never heard of Benton McMillin? Well, in order to find out who he is, lets start with some recent catch phrases and work our way back. I’m sure we have all heard the battle cry of our progressive leaders in Congress and the White House of “spreading the wealth” and the “wealthy among us should pay their fair share”. After all, it is only fair that “wealthy” people step up and do their patriotic duty by paying more taxes, putting more money and control into the hands of the federal agencies and letting Washington, DC determine how to spend our money. They know what’s best for us, right? But these rallying cries are far from new and have been used before-used to implement that dreaded amendment, the 16th: “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census of enumeration”. Yes, a direct attack on the sovereignty of the several States, making them beholden to an ever expanding and powerful Federal Government.

To understand this amendment and its attack on the States, we must go back to Article I, Section 8 – The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excise shall be uniform throughout the United States

This provision, however, works in conjunction with Section 9: “No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken” and also the 5th Amendment: ”nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”.


One Size Fits All?

With state elections fast approaching, it is time find out where our legislators stand on state sovereignty and the limits of federal power.  In the 1830’s similar debates occurred on the floor of the senate regarding unconstitutional tariffs (Tariff of Abominations) and the sale of federal lands within state boundaries.  What started out as discussions on particular issues ended in intense debate over federalism, state sovereignty, and unchecked powers by the general government. 

At the core of the debate was the clash between two distinct theories of the Constitution:  the nationalists view of a single sovereign people, a modern unitary state were power comes from a central authority, or the compact theorists who believe the United States  had been formed when the thirteen original states each acting in its own sovereign capacity ratified the Constitution through STATE ratifying conventions rather than some single American people.