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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Don’t Run for Federal Office, Tenthers. It’s a Trap!

We might be losing another good man to the federal beast.

South Carolina state Senator Lee Bright has decided to primary Lindsey Graham next year in an attempt to throw the notorious liberty hater out of government once and for all.

Certainly, Bright would be an improvement over his predecessor, assuming he can unseat the incumbent. Sen. Lindsey Graham is perhaps the biggest enemy of the Bill of Rights in the Senate. Even in the Congressional cesspool, he stands out as especially verminous. Bright would represent the people of South Carolina better than Graham ever could, and he’s off to a good start calling Graham a ‘community organizer for the Muslim brotherhood’ in one of his first interviews as a candidate. Superficially, there is a lot here for a liberty activist to like.

But upon closer review, Bright is making a mistake. Liberty is not going to be reclaimed by winning a federal election. If he pulls off the upset and wins, Bright will join a small handful of senators who talk tough against big government. Like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, he can raise a big stink and draw attention to the corruption going on within the federal government, but he will likely be very ineffectual in restoring our constitutional rights. Conversely, staying  put as a state senator, he could actually be effective in reclaiming liberty for South Carolinians by nullifying federal laws.

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Voting Out The Bums to Replace Them With New Bums Doesn’t Work

July 22nd [Phoenix, AZ] Governor hopeful, Andrew Thomas, was a guest speaker at a local LD Republican meeting last night. After his stump speech, in which he never once mentioned the constitution, liberty, freedom, sovereignty, or anything related, he took questions from the audience. Most of the questions were typical Republican question. Border security was one of the first ones. A gentleman asked, “what do you intend to do for our illegal immigration problem and when did illegal immigration become a problem and why?” His answer was very uncontroversial for his audience and typical of a Republican pundit, “build a bigger fence.” Somebody in the audience later asked him, “how do you plan on funding this, it seems like an expensive job?” His response was incoherent and didn’t offer a solution, rather, “I’ll have a plan later in my campaign that will address this.”

Never once in his rambling did he address the fact that we have a welfare state. For those concerned about illegal immigration, the goal should be to wall off the welfare state, not our country. Read more here. More questions were then asked with typical rubber stamp answers and his reassurance that “he doesn’t have a plan now, but he will later in his campaign.” He warmed everybody up to this response during his stump speech. He repeatedly said after almost every issue he discussed that he would, “have more on this later.”

When it came time for my question, I was direct. I asked him, “the federal government keeps over-stepping their limited enumerated powers by passing unconstitutional legislation that strips of our liberties. If elected Governor, would you support and pass legislation that rendered unconstitutional federal overreach null, void and of no force in the state of Arizona?”

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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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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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Nullify Term Limits?

Term limits are one of most popular political issues of the day.  Most think of achieving this with a Constitutional Amendment, but there is another way: with  nullification.

Before 1995, states were legislating term limits.  Then in Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779,(1995) in a 5 to 4 split decision, the Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional. Their reasoning was that since the U.S. Constitution imposed some qualifications on Congress people, such as age restrictions and citizen requirements. The states could not legislate additional requirements.

In a well reasoned and clear statement for federalism, Clarence Thomas dissented with, “It is ironic that the Court bases today’s decision on the right of the people to ‘choose whom they please to govern them’.” Under our Constitution, there is only one State whose people have the right to ‘choose whom they please’ to represent Arkansas in Congress… Nothing in the Constitution deprives the people of each State of the power to prescribe eligibility requirements for the candidates who seek to represent them in Congress. The Constitution is simply silent on this question. And where the Constitution is silent, it raises no bar to action by the States or the people.”

Justice Thomas is correct. There is no real Constitutional basis for this split Supreme Court ruling. It is the ruling on the whims and political view of five lawyers.  At the end of this Blog are states that still have federal term limits in their laws and/or constitution. As best I can determine, these states still have these statutes on the record. If the governor or Secretary of State deems that in Inc. v. Thornton, the U.S Supreme Court does not have the authority to make their ruling, then they could prevent these multi-term federal politicians from appearing on the ballot. A grass roots effort in these states might persuade one of them to do this.

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