Did the Civil War End State Sovereignty?

The short answer to your question is that the Civil War had no effect on state sovereignty and nullification, at least not legally. Some people may point to the Fourteenth Amendment as evidence that the federal government acquired expansive new powers over the states, but that argument doesn’t hold weight when scrutinized closely.

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Shining a Light on the 10th Amendment in Ohio

State sovereignty and the Tenth Amendment are getting some attention in the Buckeye State.

Ohio Rep. John Becker recently sent a letter to U.S. Congressman Brad Wenstrup in which he requested that his fellow republican initiate impeachment proceedings against Judge Timothy Black. Judge Black recently ruled (twice) that Ohio must recognize the marriage of same-sex couples despite (a) the lack of federal authority regarding the issue of marriage and (b) an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution which prohibits the state from recognizing or performing same-sex marriages.

(a) Congress has no enumerated power to regulate or define marriage. As such, the issue of marriage is reserved to the states per the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Even the almighty Supreme Court admitted this in their recent opinion on DOMA.

(b) Article 15, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution reads:

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State Governors Admit Feds Need State Help With Most Federal Programs

This so-called government shutdown has provided a lot of political theater and more than its fare-share of silliness. But state governors reaffirmed a very important fact in the midst of the lunacy.

The federal government depends on states to get things done.

The National Governors Association sent a panicked letter to congressional leadership on Monday, begging them to avoid a shutdown. In this email, the governors affirm something we’ve been saying for a long time – the feds need the states.

States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs. A lack of certainty at the federal level from a shutdown therefore translates directly into uncertainty and instability at the state level. [Emphasis added]

Did you catch that?  Most federal programs.

That means the states have a great deal of power!

States can refuse to serve as cooperative partners and SHUT THINGS DOWN!

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CATO Chairman Says States aren’t Sovereign

The New York Times published on September 3, 2013 an article written by Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, on the “limitations of nullification”.  I have had the honor of having personal discussions with Mr. Levy on several issues and even had the opportunity to debate him on the issue of nullification in a forum in South Florida.  It will be no surprise to Mr. Levy that I disagree with his opinion. Opinions aside, I would like to have the opportunity to present the facts.

Mr. Levy’s main premise is that the States have the option to not agree and not enforce federal law, but they do not have the ability to prevent the federal government from enforcing its laws within the States.

“That’s because federal officials are authorized to enforce their own laws, even if they cannot compel the states to do so. Thus, on the second point, the nullifiers are wrong: states cannot impede federal enforcement of a federal law merely because the state deems it unconstitutional. That is up to the federal courts.”

Mr. Levy’s premise is flawed and a mere review of the facts makes that clear.  This country was built upon the foundation of free, independent, and sovereign States.

“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…”  Lee Resolution June 7, 1776

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Jerry Brown to Feds: ‘We Can Handle Our Own Prisons’

In early summer, California Governor Jerry Brown and state corrections chief Jeffrey Beard were in great danger of being held in contempt by three federal judges for willful defiance of a court order requiring the administration to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for reducing the prison population in California.  Brown had previously asked the federal government to back off on federal mandated prison requirements, “We can handle our own prisons,” he said.

Can he constitutionally say no to the federal government?

Yes, and he should.

Besides the obvious, that Californians do not want their convicts returned to society too easily, voiding the acts of juries and judges after they spent thousands of hours deciding what is just with respect to their crimes and their danger to society, federal enforcement of such is unconstitutional.  The Constitution gives the federal government only 17 grants of power, listed in Article I, Section 8, and managing federal prisons is not one of them. Nor has that power been added to the Constitution by way of amendment.  In fact, the Constitution names only four crimes that Congress has the power to penalize: counterfeiting (Article I, Section 8, Clause 6), piracy on the high seas, offenses against the law of nations (Art. I, Sec. 8, Cla. 10), and treason (Art. III, Sec. 3, Cla. 2).  Outside these four crime areas there can be no federal law or crime without a new amendment.  All other areas are entirely under state jurisdiction as per Amendment 10.

If the governor wished to follow the Constitution as designed, he could designate one or more facilities as being federal, move all prisoners that had committed crimes in the above four areas to that facility and be fully compliant with federal law.  With respect to the other prisoners, he might notify the federal government again that “We can handle our own prisons” and that the federal government has exceeded its Constitution jurisdiction.  This is a state function per the Tenth Amendment.  He should publicize his constitutional arguments with his sister states and, if possible, enlist similar action on their parts.  Some of us would love to assist a Democratic governor in leading the charge back to the Constitution.

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Is Utah Becoming ‘Tread-proof’?

SALT LAKE CITY – With the passage of HB 131, the Constitutional and Federalism Defense Act, Utah has taken a firm stance against the central government’s assault on states’ rights. “[If] we want to be a sovereign we have to act like one,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, committee co-chair. The bill, signed by Gov.…

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