by Chip Pearson, Georgia State Senate
Thousands of discontented Georgians lined the streets around our state Capitol on April 15 to protest excessive Washington spending and an increasingly burdensome tax code. In response to a federal government that thinks it knows how to spend your money better than you do, and continues to grow nearly unchecked, the Georgia Senate voted to reaffirm our rights as a sovereign state to prevent the federal government from continuing to expand.
As a country governed by a written Constitution, the right to keep government in check is vested in â€œwe the people.â€ That means that we, the people of this country, cannot be forced to accept an oppressive and intrusive federal government. Under Senate Resolution 632, the Georgia Senate expressed bipartisan support for the principles of Jeffersonian democracy.
This resolution has been severely misrepresented in the media. In his opinion column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (â€œGeorgia Senate endorses radical idea,â€ @issue, April 16, 2009), Jay Bookman tries to play constitutionalist by expressing views that are disingenuous for the sole purpose of provoking fear.
He argues that the resolution will likely lead Georgia to secede from and disband the United States. This extreme view is a loose interpretation of the measureâ€™s language. Most of the text of the resolution is based on the words of those two well-known â€œextremists,â€ Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798.
The idea of limited government and state sovereignty is far from a radical idea â€”- it is common sense and the basis of our Constitution. The assumption that dangerous criminals would be set free under this resolution is utterly false.
The language in the resolution related to crimes, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was written well before subsequent amendments to the Constitution expanding Congressâ€™ authority in certain areas. This resolution is designed to reinforce the principle of limited government that protects all of us from an ever-expanding federal government.
Under the Constitution, the federal government is given a clear purpose: to protect the safety and rights of its people.
When that government oversteps its bounds, citizens have every responsibility to bring the federal government back to its foundation principles. This can occur through elections and judicial opinions.
But the Georgia Senate decided to weigh in on a national movement to return to the original meaning of the Tenth Amendment, which states, â€œThe 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.â€
Our Founding Fathers included this constitutional guarantee because they knew only too well that a small, limited government works best. These principles affirm that states did not unite under the practice of unlimited submission to their federal government.
The resolution includes a list of items that demonstrate what the Senate considers federal overreaching. Most Georgians would agree with most of the list, which includes the federal government establishing martial law, limiting political speech or the press, or limiting the right to keep and bear arms.
Georgia is just one of many states involved in a movement to limit the continuing growth of the federal government. Over 30 other states are introducing sovereignty resolutions of their own, many with bipartisan support, and our Georgia congressional delegation has also done an excellent job of working to limit the growth of federal spending and taxes.
Additionally, such nationally known groups as the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council support these principles.
We must ensure that government continues to work for the people, not the other way around. Americans are not willing to let their government dictate every area of their lives, a fact made evident by the thousands who gathered in Atlanta for one of the biggest anti-tax rallies this country has seen since the Boston Tea Party more than 235 years ago.
As Washington continues to add to the more than $11 trillion our country already owes, it is apparent that the federal government is having a hard enough time managing its own affairs and should not meddle in that of the states. It is time to bring back common sense and put an end to the runaway growth of government. SR 632 is a reaffirmation of the principles of our nationâ€™s founders.
Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) represents Georgiaâ€™s 51st state Senate District.