A Certain Amount of Voter Apathy Can Be Good

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires in the hearts of men.” – often attributed to Samuel Adams

It has been nearly three weeks since the 2013 New Jersey primary election, a date so uneventful it would have gone barely noticed, despite a gubernatorial primary on the ballot.  The front runners in both major parties won by enormous margins, and most state and local elected offices had no real primary.  If one saw more than one name for a position, it was most likely because it was something like county freeholder or a municipal council position that usually says to vote for any two or three.  

Newton’s first rule of motion certainly applies not only to physics, but to politics as well.  Sure, we New Jerseyans show up every four years for the presidential election, but voters at rest on primary day tend to stay at rest on primary day.  What if somebody told you this voter apathy could be the liberty movement’s greatest asset to gaining a foothold in New Jersey politics?  For Tenthers hoping to shape the direction of their parties, be they Republicans, Democrats or independents, now may be the chance to start gearing up for a future run, not so much next year, when Congressional elections may increase voter turnout, but in 2015.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t try to find good, constitutional candidates next year for local offices, or contact this year’s candidates to encourage them to embrace nullification.  Doing so now could lay the groundwork for solid local candidates in two years.

Scott Grossman, Republican primary challenger to incumbent Governor Chris Christie, pointed out that voters in the primaries have twenty times more voting power than those in the general because of the difference in voter turnout.  It makes sense.  In an election where there are 100 people voting, getting one person to vote for you gains you 1% of the vote.  If you have 2,000 people voting, one vote gets you 0.05% of the vote.  If both people receive 51 votes in their respective scenarios, the former is elected, while the latter is up to a whopping 2.55%.

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Congress Spends Your Tax Dollars on a National ID

by Jim Harper, for the CATO Institute

It’s appropriations season! – that wonderful time of year when the House and Senate pass competing versions of legislation to fund government agencies, bureaus, and…whatever pork and pet projects they can squeeze in.

Congress has made most of its spending decisions over the past few years through last-minute continuing resolutions or consolidated appropriations bills. That makes it harder to follow the money (which may be part of the reason they’ve been doing it that way), but it’s important to watch the dollars because some of that money is going toward national ID systems and biometrics.

Last week the House passed their FY 2014 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. As in years past, the legislation contains funding for three of everyone’s favorite identification programs: REAL ID, E-Verify, and US-VISIT/the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), a DHS office covering biometrics for travelers at airports, ports, and other points of entry.

For the coming fiscal year, the House appropriated $114 million for E-Verify, $232 million for OBIM, and $1.2 billion for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), from which grants for REAL ID implementation get doled out to states.

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Pennsylvania Bill Would Nullify NDAA “Indefinite Detention”

In another David flings a rock in Goliath’s eye moment, Pennsylvania state Senator Mike Folmer introduced the Liberty Preservation Act (SB999) last week.

The bill would prohibit state employees from cooperating with federal enforcement of sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) that purport to allow arrest and detention without charge or trial on U.S. soil.

No employee shall provide material support or participate in any way with the implementation of sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, as amended, (Public Law 112-81, 125 Stat. 1298) within the boundaries of this Commonwealth.

SB999 sets criminal penalties for state employees – including law enforcement personnel – who aid or abet federal agents or agencies attempting to arrest or detain citizens pursuant to the NDAA within the Commonwealth.  Pennsylvania now joins 18 other states with pending or enacted legislation that interposes sovereign state authority between their citizens and the growing authoritarianism of central government.

“I believe the indefinite detention of American citizens without providing them due process of law is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. This is why I introduced legislation to prohibit state, county, and local agencies from complying with NDAA:  to protect Pennsylvanians’ due process rights,” Folmer said, affirming his duty to uphold the Constitution against its unchecked transgression by the federal government.

Think it can’t happen here?  It already has.

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Non-compliance Works: Statistics are Proving Our Point

We can neuter the feds simply by refusing to join them on the playground.

There is a lot of talk these days about how liberty yields to “security” and how government has grown in size and power with the “War on Terror.” But in reality, this national security state has existed as a permanent installation since the Cold War. And its not just foreign wars driving the militarized state. The decades long War on Drugs has contributed as much, if not more.

But here is some good news: recently released data on the “Drug War” indicates  so-called security may, in fact, be yielding to liberty!

“Decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts” is one of the primary concerns for the unconstitutional Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal statistics showed a drop of 60 percent  in the amount of marijuana destroyed. In 2009, over 10 million plants were seized, but in 2012 that number fell below four million.

Buried in this statistic, we see the power and potential of state nullification. With 19 states authorizing medical marijuana, and Washington and Colorado legalizing weed for recreational use, we see the carpet slipping out from under the feds. Each time a state takes control of its own marijuana policy, it has less incentive to cooperate with the feds in eradicating weed. That leaves the DEA to operate on its own. And it simply can’t do it. The feds lack the funding and manpower to control marijuana in all 50 states against the will of the people.

And the will of the people has turned against the war on marijuana. A Pew Research poll shows 59 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans think the feds should back off enforcing federal drug laws in states with legalized marijuana. The lack of public will translates to a lack of political will. With states facing tight budgets, officials simply won’t waste resources helping the feds enforce unconstitutional and unpopular acts. In California and other states, the funds simply aren’t there to lend support to the feds. Even if people don’t embrace, or even understand, the principles of nullification, the effect is the same: the federal “laws” become unenforceable.

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New Hampshire Legislature Nullifies Federal “Laws” on Marijuana

CONCORD, N.H.  – New Hampshire moved a step forward toward legalizing marijuana for medical use, joining the swelling ranks of states nullifying the unconstitutional federal ban on weed.  The Legislature voted 284-66 Wednesday in favor of HB 573 and the bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

The bill allows patients diagnosed with cancer, Crohn’s disease and approximately twenty initially approved conditions to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana obtained from one of four dispensaries authorized by the state.

‘‘All of us recognize it has been proven to provide relief from pain and suffering,’’ Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) said.

Even so, the feds define alleviating suffering as a criminal activity. Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to ban marijuana. The Supreme Court concurs. But the opinions of black-robed judicial oracles don’t magically transform the meaning of the Constitution. It delegates no power to regulate plants grown and used within the borders of a state. And the so-called war on drugs rests on the same legal authority as all of the other modern-day undeclared wars.

None.

Doubt this? Then ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to legalize federal alcohol prohibition?

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Second Pennsylvania Constable Pledges to Protect Second Amendment

Across the U.S., we’ve seen local officials stepping in to affirm their commitment to the Second Amendment.

On June 15,  Constable of the 3rd Ward of the Borough of Perkasie, Pa. added to the chorus, becoming the second state constable to sign a Second Amendment Preservation resolution.

 I, Andrew Rumbold, Constable of the 3rdWard of the Borough of Perkasie, Bucks County, declare that all federal, state, or local acts, actions, orders, resolutions, rules, or regulations regarding firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition – past, present, or future – shall be in violation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and Article 1, Sections 1 and 21 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and violate the rights and duties of lawful citizens and were and are null and void from their inception and will not be implemented,enforced, or otherwise supported in this Commonwealth by the Office of Constable of the 3rd Ward of the Borough of Perkasie,

FURTHER, in keeping with my oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, I hereby express my commitment to interpose this office and stand in defense of all persons including citizens and lawful residents of the United States within this Commonwealth, against any and all attempts by any agents of the government to subject the people to unconstitutional seizure of their firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition…”

In Pennsylvania, constable is an elected office with a six year term. The office falls under the executive branch and the governor, but ultimately constables answer to the people. They are considered “peace officers” and have arrest powers.

Local resolutions send a strong message to lawmakers in Harrisburg and increase the chance of passing state-level legislation blocking violations of the Second Amendment. When officials like Rumbold and towns like Holly Springs take a stand, it also lays the ground work for the next step: city and county ordinances nullifying unconstitutional federal gun laws.

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Majority Wrong, Justice Thomas Right, in Arizona Immigration Case

NOTE: This is the first of several short commentaries on recent Supreme Court decisions.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that portions of Arizona’s immigration law violate federal statutes. In his dissent, Justice Thomas relied heavily on my own research.

The Independence Institute did not participate in that case. So how did it happen that I was cited? In 2010 the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law published my article on the original meaning of a constitutional provision relevant to the decision. The provision is Article I, Section 4—which the Court called the “Elections Clause,” but is more accurately entitled the “Times, Places and Manner Clause.” The Clause provides that the states may regulate the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives,” but that Congress may override most of these regulations.

In the article, I discuss exactly what the Founders meant by the phrase “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections,” and how Congress’s power over its own elections should be interpreted.

The recent case involved whether Arizona’s requirement that voters show proof of citizenship when registering to vote violated federal law. The Court had to decide how widely to read a federal statute and how widely to read Congress’s authority under the Times, Places and Manner Clause.

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Alaska Becomes Second State to Pass Nullification of Indefinite Detention

JUNEAU, Alaska – Federal kidnapping in Alaska just got a lot harder.

Last Friday, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed a sweeping nullification bill providing  broad protections against indefinite detention, violations of the Second Amendment and blocking implementation of a federal identification program in The Last Frontier.

HB69 prohibits “state and municipal agencies from using assets to implement or aid in the implementation of the requirements of certain federal statutes, regulations, rules, and orders that are applied to infringe on a person’s right to bear arms or right to due process or that implement or aid in the implementation of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.”

“The people of Alaska got a three-for-one in this bill. This is the most sweeping nullification legislation ever signed into law. The Alaska legislature, along with Gov. Parnell, obviously take Madison’s assertion that states are ‘duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil’ seriously.” The new law will make violations of the Second Amendment and DC-sanctioned kidnapping nearly impossible in Alaska, and it throws yet another roadblock in the path of an unconstitutional national ID program. The people of Alaska should be proud of the courage shown by their representatives,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said.

The federal government depends on state resources to enforce its laws. By pulling the rug out from under the feds, and denying state and local assistance to federal agents, Alaska effectively nullified indefinite detention, along with unconstitutional federal firearms regulations. (You can read an in-depth analysis of the Second Amendment protections offered by HB69 HERE.)

Alaska becomes the second state to refuse cooperation with federal kidnapping under the National Defense Authorization Act, following Virginia’s lead last year. And the new law takes it a step further, protecting the people of Alaska from indefinite detention under any other purported federal authority past or present, such as the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

A state or municipal agency may not use or authorize the use of an asset to implement or aid in the implementation of a requirement of an order of the President of the United States, a federal regulation, or a law enacted by the United States Congress that is applied to deny a person a right to due process, or a protection of due process, that would otherwise be available to the person under the Constitution of the State of Alaska or the Constitution of the United States.

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Local 2nd Amendment Protection Resolutions Spreading Like Wildfire in Alabama

During the recent legislative session, the Alabama Senate created quite a stir when it passed a Second Amendment Preservation act that would have nullified unconstitutional federal gun laws in the Heart of Dixie. This was a great first step, but the Alabama House lacked the resolve to get the bill passed, and hopes of blocking violations of the Second Amendment at the state level died for the year with the end of the legislative session.

But that doesn’t mean Alabama citizens have to just sit around and wait for next year. Government bodies at the local level can step into the fray to get things done.

Two Alabama cities and one county did just that. The cities of Russellville and Red Bay both fall within Franklin County, and all three local governments recently passed similar resolutions supporting the right to keep and bear arms, and encouraging gun manufactures to set up shop in their area.

The resolutions find their legal justification in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I: Section 26 of the Alabama State Constitution that states “every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.”

The resolutions have six clauses, all encouraging gun manufacturing within their jurisdiction, both to maintain the defense of the citizens and for economic prosperity for their local communities.

“The council and I wanted to expressly show support for the Second Amendment,” Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe said.

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