A continuing series of discussions of Mark Levin’s new book,
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
(Discussion #5 – How much power do the states have?)
Instead of moving to chapter five, we will be backtracking a bit and revisiting a few points, as well as touching on some of the things you’ve covered in the discussions so far. Feel free to bring up anything from the book in the comments.
* * *
A question that keeps coming up here and at other sites concerns our end goal. Essentially, can this process, if successfully completed, make any difference at all? With all of the willful abrogation of the Constitution by each of the three branches of our Federal government today, people wonder why they should believe the Liberty Amendments will not be similarly ignored. They want to know how changing an old document that many view as a quaint anachronism could possibly have any effect on how things are done in Washington DC. Wouldn’t that be like changing the words on some monument or over the entrance to some building? How could it possibly change the way things are done? The answer lies in understanding the three sovereignties that make up our nation, which are: The Republic, The States, and The People.
Despite the totalitarian juggernaut gestating in our nation’s capital, those three sovereignties still represent the powers comprising our system of governance. As many of our readers know, the United States of America is a constitutionally-limited republic. As such, the Republic is the national Sovereign. The sovereign entity of the Republic is what is given structure by our Constitution, and the Republic is what our Constitution charges with specific powers and duties as Sovereign. Thus our Republic is equivalent in power to the other nation/states around the globe, and is empowered by the Constitution to deal with those other nation/states as an equal entity under international law and by treaty.
However, the Republic was conceived as an instrument or agent of the Sovereign States. The Constitution is thus a charter of agreement for the federation of the States. The States were independent republics that agreed, as sovereign entities, to form a union to serve their joint interests, and provide for a common defense. The separate states of the Republic are organized each, by a State Constitution. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, is the oldest, continuously operational constitution in the world today. It went into effect in October of 1780, seven years and eight months before the US Constitution was ratified by the ninth state (New Hampshire) in 1788. It remains fully in effect, as do all of the other state constitutions within the Republic.
Most of you are also aware of the intent of the framers to specifically limit the federal government, so that 1) The Republic is required to respect the unalienable rights of The People, and 2) Most powers of governance are retained by the States and The People. This intent was considered obvious by the framers, but was given the force of law by the Tenth Amendment at the insistence of the States.
However, these facts are of little comfort to a man whose house painting or lawnmowing business was just wiped out by an EPA regulation created by a non-constitutional federal agency without the knowledge or consent of The People; and probably done while he was busy painting or mowing for a customer, using paint or gasoline he legally purchased, but while busy working, was rendered illegal by some nameless, faceless bureaucrat, and rubber-stamped into existence with the force of law by some unelected committee not beholden to Congress. These facts about sovereignties will not replace his lost income nor pay his bills, nor absolve him of heavy fines laid upon him. How can we stop this from happening?
The answer is what we have covered previously: it essentially boils down to either war and massive upheaval, or legal change. We know legal change will never happen within the federal system, since Congress would be required to change itself. So we must change the federal system. In this case, “We” means The Sovereign States, and The People. And unlike the case with war, nullification, and interposition, we are legally entitled to make this change. The Sovereign States insisted upon this as a condition for joining the Union. It is a fact of law. If we may be so bold, the abrogation and abeyance with which the Constitution has been burdened make it our legal duty (EDIT: or at least, our Sovereign duty) to make this change. After all, none of us may act within the bounds of law and therefore deserve the protections afforded by the law, without simultaneously pledging ourselves to observe and uphold the law. This change to our federal constitution is necessary to preserve it. So it must be done.
Back to the question about effectiveness, then: change to the form of our federal constitution means what, exactly? Does it mean Congress suddenly begins to pass laws that are Constitutionally sound? Does it mean the Courts will suddenly stop legislating from the bench? Does it mean that the EPA will be dissolved and all of its massive regulations repealed ab initio?
Let me ask you a question, first. If the legislature of your state is empowered by the US Constitution to make laws concerning murder or assault—which is most definitely the case, what would suddenly make them stop? What would cause them to all go home, and your state’s court system and law enforcement officers to suddenly decide their jobs are over, and the laws passed by the state legislature are no longer in effect? The only answers would be either a massive takeover by the federal leviathan, all out war, or a sudden outbreak of capitulation among legislators and executives. I assure you the federal system will become more like the Soviet Union long before a majority of your average statehouse legislators will volunteer to give up what power they have.
In other words, the States do have power. They still insist upon it, too. The problem the states have is that they are hampered by a lack of a Bill of States Rights. This is because the framers also thought the rights that are retained by the States were obvious in nature. So they were not codified—as were the Peoples’ rights, by the first ten Amendments. The Liberty Amendments are a proposal to give the framers’ obvious intent the same force of law that the Bill of Rights provides for The People.
How will the States enforce it? Consider the election of members of the US House of Representatives. Your state legislature draws up the boundaries of the various Congressional Districts in your state. No power in Washington DC does this. It is wholly a power of the Sovereign States to exercise. (One caveat is that the federal system decides how many members the House of Representatives will have, and then apportions them among the States by population, as determined by Article 1, Section 2.) Also, your state determines where you will go to vote, and how candidates come to be placed on a ballot. Further, since the Constitution of the US declares that a Congressional representative is elected every two years, your State is the power that hosts and enumerates the results of the elections. Imagine if you will, what might happen should a Member of Congress decide not to vacate his or her seat if they did not retain it as a result of an election. Imagine if Members of Congress voted for themselves the right to stay in their seats for a longer term.
You know that your state legislatures and governors would make sure the Constitution is observed in those cases. You might have concerns that your particular State would not do so, but you must surely have some faith that the majority of states would enforce the law. Otherwise we have given up the entire enterprise, and it’s every man for himself. Men who truly believe that… are invited to go somewhere and have a lie down. We don’t need you. We’ll let our women lead us out of darkness.
One more thought exercise for you: Imagine for a moment that we have successfully gotten the Liberty Amendments ratified. One of those Amendments that we have not yet covered here is the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. It restores selection of Members of the federal Senate by State Legislatures. It also gives the State legislatures the power to remove one or both of their Members of the Senate. What do you suppose would happen, if the legislature of the State of Nevada voted to remove Harry Reid? Do you really think Harry Reid would return to Washington, expecting to resume his seat? What of the replacement the legislature names? Do you really think he or she will show up in DC, see Harry Reid sitting in his seat, and decide to just go home without taking up his or her newly assigned duties?
That, my friends, is something that will never happen. If you are so empowered by your legislature to take up a seat in the Senate and represent your state in Washington, you can bet it will happen. Such a bet is more certain than the full faith and credit of the United States. And that is why the Liberty Amendments will succeed. The Sovereign States do have power, and they will exercise it.
* * *
Last week, ApplePie101 brought up the idea that twelve years on the bench is too many for the Supreme Court. I have trouble disagreeing with that notion. But I must point out: Folks, this is the time to hash this out. If any of you have a proposed number of years that differs from the twelve years Mark Levin has proposed, this is your chance to make your case. I’d like to see some scholarship here. Dig into the kinds of things that happen in twelve years regarding the Supreme Court. Show us how your proposed number is neither too few, nor too many. If you can find a case for your number among the writings of the founders, please do so. We really need to know this now, and not after the Amendment becomes ratified.
In response to the question, “What if they hijack the Convention?” MikeTheMarine, in typical Marine fashion, asks, “What if WE crash the Convention?” This is something our opposition does not understand. We will hold this convention in defense of The Constitution and in defense of Liberty. The leftists may seek to hijack the process, but what do they believe in? Free healthcare? What sort of high concept is that? I don’t see any of them giving the last full measure for some stranger’s right to get free condoms or vaccines. Marines don’t take a hill for workers rights. They do it for love of country and for their brothers in arms. The left has no such greater love. They aren’t “crashing” anything. We are.
Finally for this week, please give us any info you have on who you may have contacted among your state legislators. Let us know what they said! We’ll keep track of it. Computers are really good at stuff like that. That’s the only hint you get for now on what’s coming.