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State sovereignty legislative tools for Texas addressed at 10th Amendment Conference
On September 4, 2010, the middle of Labor Day holiday weekend, an auditorium in Forth Worth, Texas, was crowded with activists concerned about individual liberty and state sovereignty in the face of the crisis of a power-hungry, bloated U.S. federal government. They were participating in the Tenth Amendment Center's Nullify Now Conference, which featured an impressive list of politicos, scholars and activist leaders who presented the strategies and tactics that states can use to fend off out-of-control, over-reaching federal legislation and mandates. All of the speakers conveyed a heightened urgency for states to protect themselves against unconstitutional federal actions and gave recent and historical accounts of how state legislatures have been successful in protecting the sovereignty of their states.
Here are excerpts, paraphrases and notes from the conference.
Pastor Stephen Broden, candidate for congress in Texas Congressional District 30 (Dallas) and member of the Black-Robed Regiment honored recently by Glenn Beck at the Restoring Honor Rally in DC, opened the conference with an prayer of invocation. What a reminder to all present that Rights are granted to man by God, not by institutions! Stephen Broden returns later in the conference to deliver a stirring and inspirational speech about the afflictions of our country and what we must do to return to our founding principles. Pastor Stephen Broden himself is taking the fight to the streets of Dallas to unseat long-time incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson in congressional district 30.
Michael Boldin, founder of Tenth Amendment Center
Rights are not granted to people by government; governent exists solely w/our consent; we the people created the government, not other way around; the 10th amendment defines the entire scope of federal power; it is up to the people of Texas to protect themselves and their state when government over-reaches its constitutionally enumerated power.
Recent examples of states taking action include one state in 2007, two in 2008, three in 2009. Since then, 20 states have defied the federal government on the Real-ID act. Eight states have passed firearms freedom acts. Five states have passed healthcare freedom acts.
Boldin shared two questions he is asked most frequently:
Question: You're just doing this because you're a racist and don't like the man in the Whitehouse, right?
Question: What party do you belong to anyway?
Colonel Leo Berman, Texas State Representative, District 6
Leo Berman talks about Jeffersonian philosophy. Jeffersonian democracy is a political philosophy which supports a federal government with greatly constrained powers and which advocates a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. As Thomas Jefferson said, when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty, and that's a duty that we have today, to resist what's going on in Washington.
Adrian Murphy, Leader of Fort Worth 912 Project
We are at a crossroads in our nations history. The choice is liberty versus tyranny. The choice hasn't changed, though the headlines may have. Their agenda [of the federal government] is to make the state governments administrative districts for the federal agenda. If they are successful, you will be electing state representatives not to represent you, but rather to execute the federal plan. The liberties of our country are being threatened, it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. Meet the new boss: we the people.
Pastor Stephen Broden, Candidate for US House of Representatives, CD 30
Pastor Stephen Broden deliver a stirring and inspirational speech about the afflictions of our country, what we must do to return to our founding principles and that we must PUSH BACK on an expanding and over-reaching big government agenda that is driven by relativism and economic darwinism. Pastor Stephen Broden isn't just saying the words, he is acting them too in his battle to unseat long-time incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) in Texas congressional district 30.
Mr. Ken Emanuelson, Dallas Tea Party, Organizer
Surely the supreme court would do something if the gov oversteps its bounds, right? Under FDR, however, government power became unlimited. Anyone who understands constitution knows it's a government of enumerated powers. You would not find the power to mandate health care purchase or mandates for education or limitations on personal and private conduct. The federal government believes it has this power because the commerce clause says it can regulate commerce with foreign nations, among several states and with indian tribes. It doesn't take a lawyer to understand the commerce clause, but it sure takes a lawyer to distort it!
A case example is United States vs. Lopez regarding the gun free school zone pact. Although this was argued under the commerce clause, the Supreme Court said that a person cannot be implicated for this under the commerce clause.
You need to be asking your representatives what kind of people they would be placing on the federal bench.
John Stacy, NotInTexas.org
If you want something done, tell a texan it's impossible. The 912 movement is focusing on local government, county commissioners, school districts. Over 33% of my school district budget goes to debt payments! No one in our school district seems to know that. We had to manage debt personally and the governments need to do the same!
Is building a new community center something that is necessary for the government to do now? If you believe it is, that's your right. You need to start acting locally and work your way up.
We have to thank Obama, Reid, Pelosi for being absolutely crazy and waking everyone up!!
David Simpson, Republican nominee for Texas State Legislature, House District 7
When David's former opponent and incumbent for district 7, Tommy Merritt, was asked how well he knew the constitution and especially the tenth amendment, he raised his arms and said “if you don't like the job I'm doing, fire me!”. That's exactly what happened to Merritt and as a result, I [David Simpson] am now the republican nominee for Texas State Legislature, House District 7.
My interest in the tenth amendment started as a mayor when I saw the over-reach of government. The US government has grown so large, so powerful, so intrusive is that the states are in danger of losing their sovereignty. An example of peaceful resistance of federal meddling is with the real id act, 2005, which has been resisted. Most states have done nothing about it – not implementing it. Others have passed legislation resisting.
Charles Key, Oklahoma State Legislator
There is a lawless out of control government that wants to take away your labor, your property and have it for themselves. They may give lip service to constitution, but they don't actually follow it. When we have so many actions today, like obamacare, that are unconstitutional, it causes a huge dilemma. It's waking people up. That's why we're here to talk about nullification. This goes back to days of magna carta.
The 10th ammendment resolution (that many states have passed) started back in the early 1990's, not just now. I was part of it back then. It was originated by a state senator in Colorado. Many states have passed such resolutions 94/95/96. When got elected again few years ago, that's one of the first things I wanted to do.
Obamacare is biggest move to take over US and move it to socialism. John Birch society is one of the best sources of information on Obamacare, see their website. Oklahoma is one of states with legislation to reject Obamacare.
Two bills actually passed with Obamacare, the patient protection and affordable healthcare bill (and mandate) and an education bill. State legislatures should make sure to overturn two things:
#1 the mandate
Even if these lawsuits win, that doesn't necessarily mean that all the individual laws contained will be repealed. Take model legislation from OK to show how it should be done at state legislative level
Randy Brogdon, Oklahoma State Senator
Back in December 1776, in the American Revolution, Battle of Trenton, George Washington had to take the troops across the Delaware River. He also had another fight, a fight with Congress to get the basics for his men. He had just lost the previous five battles and several thousand men. Those people stood in formation, they heard words of Thomas Paine:
"The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Their mission was freedom. Two nights later, on Christmas, they crossed to engage the enemy one more time. The Battle of Trenton was fought, it was a turning point in the Revolution. Thomas Paine's words inspired those men.
My challenge to you is to renew your commitment to the mission – restoration – restore our freedom.
The issues we are facing are just symptoms of a deep-rooted problem that is affecting us today. We are stuck on one side of the Delaware river and we haven't been willing to cross it. We have settled for reckless politicians, for ignorance.
Three years ago we started restoring the sovereignty of the State of Oklahoma. It was about the Real ID. The Department of Homeland Security was trying to scare us. They told us we wouldn't be able to travel or go into a post office or federal building... but after many discussions with our state senators and representatives, we opted out, and since that time, 37 states have opted out. Janet Napolatono said about five months ago “real ID is dead because the states wouldn't cooperate.” But this is not over because now Congress has the next one on the books.
Now we're talking about stopping obamacare. That bill will be on ballot in November in Oklahoma.
How have we gotten to this point? From love of country to self indulgence? From self-reliance to dependency on government? The answer is that we have turned our back on sovereignty and freedom. However, we are still in control. There is still a chance. The state legislatures are still more powerful than congress. Tonight I have a dream, that children of faith can again proclaim their god, that all life will be cherished, return to faith of founding fathers and that pastors will talk about religious and yes political issues again.
Debra Medina, President of We Texans
Debra Medina discusses examples of legislative and legal actions taken regarding state sovereignty. She reads from the Prinz Supreme Court case and provides a quote from the Glover affair in 1854 Wisconsin.
Sherman Booth (editor of The Free Democrat who summoned the people to the defense of Joshua Glover in 1854 Wisconsin) I am bold to say that, rather than have the great constitutional rights and safeguards of the people--the writ of habeas corpus and the right of trial by jury--stricken down by this fugitive law, I would prefer to see every federal officer in Wisconsin hanged on a gallows fifty cubits higher than Haman's.
From Printz v United States 521 U.S. 898 (1997) "this Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations" "The Federal Government," we held, "may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program."
"Much of the Constitution is concerned with setting forth the form of our government, and the courts have traditionally invalidated measures deviating from that form. The result may appear 'formalistic' in a given case to partisans of the measure at issue, because such measures are typically the product of the era's perceived necessity. But the Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day."
When my seven year old daughter responded to someone's comment that the penny doesn't buy anything anymore, she said “yeah, thanks to the fed!”. Maybe something is wearing off on her...
The fact that we can have a meeting like this in the middle of a Labor Day weekend is a testiment to three things:
#1 You came here despite what the New York Times and MSNBC want you to think... this is not fashionable!
#2 These things don't happen automatically... thanks to Michael Boldin and the many different groups involved! We're opening lines of communication...
#3 The Internet
Until the internet, opinion was basically shaped by “gatekeepers”, all the official channels of opinion, they tell you what you are allowed to debate, for example, “what should the fed rate be?” or “how should we be looted?”
But to discuss something like nullification, that's not something they want us to think. They want us to think like zombies. But because of the internet, the walls are down even though they still have their gates up! Now we can bring up topics like this, even if Newsweek doesn't think it's “worthy”. We have a way to reach each other directly.
What we are talking about is American, but it has fallen down the Orwellian hole. What's in Jefferson's tool kit? Two documents, the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798... these documents have been all but forgotten. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson urged us that states have role to play when the Federal government goes beyond constitutional powers. We are duty-bound to resist. Jefferson said “a nullification” is the remedy. Later, in follow-up resolutions – Jefferson said “we need a remedy even for when the courts betray us.” Thomas Jefferson's attitude was that federal courts are part of the problem... they can't possibly be impartial arbiters.
Here are some objections to nullification and my responses:
Objection: It's about states, it's about slavery.
Objection: They get worried about “states rights” and afraid of what are they are planning to do. Answer: Remember that the biggest opponent of states rights in 1920's was Hitler!
What it boils down is this: the federal government will not and cannot be expected to limit itself. We've tried dangling carrots in front of it, it's time for the stick.
A lot of people in this room think we've tried everything. One thing you have to acknowledge the people on the left about... they make their politicians follow-through. But on the right, we vote them in and then forget it, don't hold them accountable... and we know government is going to continue to grow. We continue to neglect the Jeffersonian resolution.
Next month, former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is going to be speaking at our conference in Florida. As governor of that state, he vetoed more bills than all the other governors combined. He is coming to nullification conference... amazing. In Connecticut, the tea party people got Martha Dean nominated for AG. She supports legislative measures to nullify. Let's also say some words to the tea party people – they are thrilled about what happened in Utah. Bob Bennett figured he would just be reelected... NO – he was defeated by two tea party candidates in the Republican primaries!
Keep these two things in mind:
#1 DC political machine wants you back on the plantation
#2 If you are going to stand up to the political establishment you need thick skin – this is a hot topic and a lot of people won't talk about it – but take note – one person who has been consistently fearless talking about it is Judge Napolitano.
However, if you want an example of how this topic would be handled by most of the media, see my “interview with a zombie” at:
Wayne Christian and Phil King face the heat in front of a crowd that's fed up with big government
Republican State Representatives Phil King and Wayne Christian volunteered to take Q&A directly from the audience on the issue of State Sovereignty, Nullification and the Texas Legislature. One thing they quickly learned is this audience isn't willing to take standard political answers. They were looking for specifics. It wasn't easy and it got hot but Reps. King and Christian faced the fire.
Reps. King and Christian are both working very hard with local conservatives to better position the legislature to tackle important conservative issues like nullification, reducing (or eliminated) property taxes and decreased spending.
They explained how that while Republican were in the majority, they were not "in control" of the legislature because of a deal made between moderate Republicans, Democrats and the current House Speaker. Watch for an upcoming TexasGOPVote post with video excerpts and more details of what happened with these brave politicos during this very unique and special session.