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Civil disobedience and noncompliance are not just for individuals. By withdrawing support and resources, states have a powerful tool to stop federal acts.

American history is filled with stories of heroic individuals defying government laws – from Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad to Susan B. Anthony and Claudette Colvin. Even the “father of the Constitution,” James Madison, advocated resistance to unjust laws.

As Madison put it in Federalist #46, when a number of states pass laws directing state agents to refuse participation in a federal act, coupled with individual disobedience on a wide scale, this creates a climate the federal government “would be hardly willing to encounter.”

But that was then, and this is now, right? Wrong.

In Madison’s time, the federal government was so small no one alive today would recognize it.  And even then, withdrawing consent by refusing to participate on both an individual and state level was effective against federal acts.

So today, withdrawing support and consent is far more effective. Think of it this way:

Doing the dishes sure is easier if you have one person washing and another person drying. But if your partner stops helping, you can still get it done without too much trouble.

On the other hand try moving a couch up a flight of stairs and into a dorm room without help. You might pull it off on your own if you’re really determined, but you’re not going to want to do that ever again.

Today, the federal government is huge and involved in nearly everything. It relies on our help more than ever. A statement from the National Governor’s Association confirmed this. They noted: “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”

Partnerships don’t work when half the team stops participating. By withdrawing support, states can effectively bring down “most federal programs.”

Michael Boldin

The 10th Amendment

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