The States Say “Enough”

It seems that there are some states that are saying “enough is enough” to the federal government. In a resolution introduced last week, the New Hampshire legislature has taken the nearly unprecedented step to remind the federal government

That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations, slavery, and no other crimes whatsoever; . . . . . therefore all acts of Congress which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force….

What crimes may we be talking about? Anything that does not fall under those listed above such as drug laws, gun control laws, and kidnapping laws to name a few. Many of the crimes Congress has identified are, indeed, crimes that need to be punished. However, I have been able to find no place in the Constitution where Congress and the president are given authorization to make such declarations. Under the 10th Amendment, these determinations are left up to the states and therefore their citizens.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Looking at Article I. §8, there are numerous areas of control given to Congress such as; borrowing money; regulating commerce between the US and foreign nations, and the states; establishing citizenship requirements, etc., but none of the specific crimes that have been set down by Congress and signed by the presidents appear. My Constitutional Guru, Mr. Ric Morgan, Esq. has informed me that most of these laws are justified under the Commerce Clause, Art I §8(3) which states that the Congress shall have the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes….” I have to tell you that I have twisted my head every which way and the connection with many of the laws passed still seems pretty thin. Quoting Mr. Morgan:

Under the Commerce Clause, since the mid-1930’s, federal power has incrementally extended to reach a myriad of far-flung issues that are only vaguely connected to interstate commerce by the most tendentious logic. Prior to the 1930’s, all of those issues had been firmly within the States’ control under Constitutional interpretations of the previous hundred and forty years.

These current standards defining the federal reach under the Commerce Clause are set forth in the 1995 Supreme Court case of Lopez v US, which was the first case in over sixty years to set any limits on the exercise of federal authority under the Commerce Clause.

In Lopez, an eighteen year-old miscreant and high school senior was caught carrying a .38 cal handgun on school grounds in San Antonio, Texas. He was tried and convicted under the federal “Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990”, which banned guns within 1000 feet of a school.

Lopez challenged the federal law on constitutional grounds, claiming that there is no federal authority to reach so far into the realm properly belonging to the States. The federal government defended on Commerce Clause grounds, claiming that carrying of firearms in a school zone would 1) lead to crime, which 2) frighten citizens, which would 3) inhibit travel, which 4) would lead to a weaker economy, and 5) was therefore related to interstate commerce and subject to the Commerce Clause. In the 1995 Lopez decision delivered by Chief Justice Rehnquist, the court held that government’s logic was too strained, the association to interstate commerce was unsupported by any facts, and “there must always be an outer limit to federal power”.

But the government lost in Lopez based on the same tenuous logic that serves to justify thousands of other federal laws.

Since I started working on this Discourse an article in World Net Daily has been brought to my attention. It can be seen here. In the article they point to eight states, including New Hampshire, that have introduced similar resolutions and the potential for 20 more states to follow suit. Many of these states are pointing to the “stimulus” package and are putting their collective feet down on unfunded government mandates.

As many of you know, I have a deep concern for any abuse or subversion of the 2nd Amendment but there is an ever growing body of evidence of the systematic subversion of all of our rights by the federal government. Over the years, there have been steady steps, some large and some small, by various factions at the federal level to take our freedoms. However, the recent election cycle has emboldened numerous disparate groups to work together and put together what is being touted as a “stimulus” package. For many states, this is the last straw. We may be seeing the start of a significant push-back to this ever increasing trend of the federal government.

As always, I welcome your comments and discussion.

PS: Happy Birthday, Nick

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