The 10th Amendment Movement

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“If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions’ authors (James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, respectively), it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power.” –Thomas E. Woods

The 10th Amendment Movement is an effort to push back against unconstitutional federal laws and regulations on a state level. The principle is known as “nullification,” and was advised by many prominent founders.

Current Nullification Efforts:

Potential Future Efforts:

  • Patriot Act
  • No Child Left Behind
  • State-Initiated Constitutional Amendments

History of Nullification: While the media generally portrays nullification as being solely aligned with the efforts of the nullifiers of the South and the Civil War, this is certainly false, and reeks of misinformation. Nullification has a long history in the American tradition and has been invoked in support of free speech, in opposition to war and fugitive slave laws, and more. Read more on this history here.

10th Amendment Resolutions These non-binding resolutions, often called “state sovereignty resolutions” do no carry the force of law. Instead, they are intended to be a statement of the legislature of the state. They play an important role, however. If you owned an apartment building and had a tenant not paying rent, you wouldn’t show up with an empty truck to kick them out without first serving notice. That’s how we view these Resolutions – as serving “notice and demand” to the Federal Government to “cease and desist any and all activities outside the scope of their constitutionally-delegated powers.” Follow-up, of course, is a must. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT 10TH AMENDMENT RESOLUTIONS

10th Amendment Bills Unlike the many 10th Amendment Resolutions that have been introduced around the country since 2008, these “10th Amendment” or “State Sovereignty” bills are proposals for binding legislation. They include language to affirm the sovereignty of the people of the state and to create a commission or a committee to review the Constitutionality of acts emanating from the federal government. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT 10TH AMENDMENT BILLS

Firearms Freedom Act Originally introduced and passed in Montana, the FFA declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. The FFA is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the “commerce clause,” with firearms as the object. (source, FirearmsFreedomAct.com) CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT FIREARMS FREEDOM ACT LEGISLATION

Medical Marijuana Laws An honest reading of the Constitution with an original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that the federal government has no constitutional authority to override state laws on marijuana. All three branches of the federal government, however, have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the commerce clause of the Constitution to authorize them to engage in this activity, even though there’s supposedly no “legal” commerce in the plant. At best, these arguments are dubious; at worst an intentional attack on the Constitution and your liberty. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT STATE MARIJUANA LAWS

REAL ID Act Led by Maine in early 2007, 25 states over the past 2 years have passed resolutions and binding laws denouncing and refusing the implement the Bush-era law which many expressed concerned about privacy, funding and more. While the law is still on the books in D.C., its implementation has been “delayed” numerous times in response to this massive state resistance, and in practice, is virtually null and void. CLICK HERE FOR ANTI-REAL ID LEGISLATION

Health Care Like Marijuana above, a reading of the Constitution through the original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that any national health care plan, or national public option, is not something that was delegated by the People to the Federal Government in the Constitution. However, the courts, politicians and many commentators have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the Commerce Clause, the general Welfare Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause in ways not intended by the Founders so as to justify such programs under the Constitution. They are most certainly wrong. A number of states are considering legislation to effectively nullify any future national health care plan. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT HEALTH CARE NULLIFICATION LEGISLATION

Bring the Guard Home Under the Constitution, the militia (now called the National Guard) may only be called into duty by the federal government in three specific situations. According to Article I, Section 8; Clause 15, the Congress is given the power to pass laws for “calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” The militia was intended by the Founders and Ratifiers to be defense force and nothing more. Deployments outside the country were not considered, and neither were internal deployments in pursuance of powers that were not delegated to the federal government. Congress has passed numerous laws in the past 100 years giving the federal government additional authority not mentioned in the Constitution. But, without amendment, altering the enumerated powers by legislative fiat is, in and of itself, unconstitutional. Campaigns in states around the country are working to reassert the authority of governors over guard troops. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT BRING THE GUARD HOME LEGISLATION

Constitutional Tender The United States Constitution declares, in Article I, Section 10, “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” Constitutional Tender laws seek to nullify federal legal tender laws in the state by authorizing payment in gold and silver or a paper note backed 100% by gold or silver, CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT CONSTITUTIONAL TENDER LEGISLATION

Cap and Trade Cap and Trade is often claimed to be authorized under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. At best, this is a highly dubious claim. This interstate regulation of “commerce” did not include agriculture, manufacturing, mining, or land use. Nor did it include activities that merely “substantially affected” commerce. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT CAP AND TRADE NULLIFICATION LEGISLATION

State Sovereignty and Federal Tax Funds Act Such laws would require that all federal taxes come first to the state’s Department of Revenue. A panel of legislators would assay the Constitutional appropriateness of the Federal Budget, and then forward to the federal government a percentage of the federal tax dollars that are delineated as legal and Constitutionally-justified. The remainder of those dollars would be assigned to budgetary items that are currently funded through federal allocations and grants or returned to the people of the state. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT FEDERAL TAX FUNDS LEGISLATION

Sheriffs First Legislation A “Sheriffs First” bill would make it a state crime for any federal agent to make an arrest, search, or seizure within the state without first getting the advanced, written permission of the elected county sheriff of the county in which the event is to take place. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT SHERIFFS FIRST LEGISLATION

Federal Gun Laws Nullification As codified in law with the 2nd Amendment, the People did not delegate the power to regulate or control the ownership of firearms to the federal government. And, as the 10th Amendment makes clear, all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the States or to the People themselves. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT FEDERAL GUN LAWS NULLIFICATION LEGISLATION

Nullification of Federal Intrastate Commerce Regulation As understood at the time of the founding, the regulation of commerce was meant to empower Congress to regulate the buying and selling of products made by others (and sometimes land), associated finance and financial instruments, and navigation and other carriage, across state jurisdictional lines. These bills attempt to reassert this original meaning of the commerce clause over wide areas of policy and effectively nullify federal laws and regulations that violate such limitations by regulating commerce and other activities that are solely intrastate. CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT INTRASTATE COMMERCE REGULATION NULLIFICATION LEGISLATION

This is reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center.

Michael Boldin [send him mail] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center.

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