The state governments are now beginning in earnest to do something about the encroaching federal government. Way back in 1994 when the “Republican Revolution” was taking place in Congress the Republican Governors Association (RGA) “adopted” a sort of “declaration of independence” for themselves. From Congress we got the “Contract with America” and from the RGA we saw a resolution that the states will actively fight against the federal government’s encroachment upon states authority.
Underlying the theme of both “movements” was the idea that the federal government was going beyond its constitutional duties and something needed to be done to bring it back in line. While these had good intentions, they fell short like everything else from the government does. People will always fall back to doing what they know and in the case of government; that is trying to gain power over everything.
At least twelve states had passed resolutions demanding that Congress get rid of all the unfunded federal mandates. Many of the other states asked for “mandate-relief” because they could not afford to implement the mandates. Kansas and South Dakota were probably the most vociferous; they were calling for a constitutional convention and wanted an amendment to our Constitution forbidding the federal government making such mandates.
Many states took up the call and passed resolutions asserting states sovereignty. The language of the resolutions was all similar in nature with their call for the federal government to halt its behavior of violating the 10th Amendment. Walter Williams had noted:
The 10th Amendment movement may be America’s last chance to peacefully get Congress to obey the Constitution. Politicians have seriously underestimated public anger and are blind to the rebellion spreading across the land.
For all their wanting, the RGA still fell short and the states dropped the ball. They were right to stand up and be noticed. It was all talk and no action. Unfortunately, over time, history has shown that people will always revert to what they have been taught. This effort slowly fizzled out as the states and federal government once again began colluding with each other.
The federal government can control things one of two ways. They can do it with the point of a gun or the use of the purse. So, while the states flexed their muscles, President Clinton gave them some of what they wanted to help rebuild their autonomy but he insisted on the federal government controlling the funds and their usage. He did this in his speech to the National Governors Association on Jan. 31, 1995, when he told them:
Even though you’ll have more flexibility to solve your problems, you must be held accountable for how you spend the federal money
Even though that part of our history proved to be faulty, the idea of the 10th Amendment and the force behind it; is not. Today many states are sick and tired of what the federal government is doing and mandating them to do. We are witnessing the “states political revolution” all over again. The difference here and now is that he states are no longer “asking permission”.
It is always easier to “do” and say you are sorry later, then to ask for permission and wait for denial. Apparently many states have learned the lessons of this folly from the 1994/95 fiasco. States are NOT asking the federal government for permission any more. They are enacting their own laws to nullify the federal government’s mandates.
States are finally stepping up the jurisdiction game and putting authority where it belongs. Several states have already passed medical marijuana laws making the drug legal for medical use. Two states (Washington and Colorado) have completely decriminalized marijuana all together.
This is a direct slap in the face of the federal government’s drug war policies. If EVERY state followed Washington and Colorado’s example, what could the federal government do? Would they build a wall around the entire United States and say that everyone is in jail because of drug use? These actions, where they states work together to accomplish the same goal is exactly what James Madison was talking about when he said they would band together against the federal encroachment.
There is also a growing consensus among the states to nullify things like ObamaCare. Many states have enacted laws against its implementation. Some states, like Texas, even lay fines and penalties against anyone who aides the federal government in getting it implemented within their state.
More work still needs to be done before the correct balance of federalism is restored. As people learn more about Liberty they will insist their states exercise their 10th Amendment rights and hold the federal government accountable. People and state legislatures will need to read and acquire a sound understanding of the Constitution, what it says and why it says it.
Knowing how the Constitution was designed to properly function is vital to the successful 10th Amendment “movement” that Walter Williams was talking about. It should be obvious, to even the most casual observer, that the only way to restore our American federalism, is to know all the inner workings and apply the very principles it was built upon.
Freedom is not free. We, each of us, have an obligation to learn the principles are fore-fathers laid out for us. From there, it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable and force them to abide by those principles. The Constitution cannot protect itself. We the people, MUST, be the ones to do it. If we do not, everything we do to try and get our system back on track will fail in misery.
The present battles, between the states and federal government, to recover federalism throughout the country; goes directly to the principles enshrined within our Constitution. The primary objective of our fore-fathers, when designing the Constitution, was NOT to answer how we run any public policy.
Public policy question and answers were nowhere in their minds. What they set out to do was to define the level where decisions would be made (the vertical plane). They created the Constitution in such a way as to define what they viewed as the federal-state relationships. Exercising the Constitution in any other way was not part of its original design.
In conclusion, it is up to us, we the people, to ensure the 10th Amendment is properly exercised. Failure to do so will ensure the rise of a tyrannical government.
Yours in Liberty
- Understanding The 10th Amendment - April 26, 2013
- Surprise: Law Professor Misinterprets Supremacy Clause - January 26, 2013
- Federalism and the 10th: The State Reclamation Begins - December 14, 2012