The following was a prepared statement for the 10th Amendment Forum in Orlando, FL on 08-22-09
First of all, thank you for allowing me a few moments to be here with you today â€“ itâ€™s an honor to be able to speak with you, even if itâ€™s from the other side of the country where I am here in Los Angeles, California.
As the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, Iâ€™m often asked â€“ why the Tenth Amendment?Â Why do we need it?Â And I truly believe thatâ€™s just what people like you and I were asking back in the time when this country was founded, too.
But, the answer isnâ€™t complex.Â It isnâ€™t difficult.Â Itâ€™s simple and itâ€™s easy to understand. The People of the day, the Founding Generation, like so many of us today, recognized that a government of strictly limited powers is the only one that has a chance of protecting our liberty â€“ and thatâ€™s just the kind of government that the People created when they ratified the Constitution so many years ago.
They did this because they knew through their own life experience, that a government without limits is a tyranny.
The 10th Amendment was ratified as an exclamation point on the Constitution â€“ and it lays out in plain English that our federal government is to be one of limited, enumerated powers â€“ not the nearly unlimited, unchecked one that it has become today.
It truly is our modern line in the sand.Â On one side, we have those who believe in limiting the power of politicians, and on the other are those that trust the government to do everything.
The 10th Amendment is the safety valve that makes it clear, especially in conjunctionÂ with the 9th, that it was The People who created the federal government to be our agent for certain enumerated purposesâ€¦â€¦.and nothing more.
The federal government didnâ€™t create itself – and the state governments didnâ€™t create it either.Â It was The People who created the federal government, and it is the People who are sovereign in the American system.Â This couldnâ€™t have been more clearly stated than it was in the Federalist Papers, #22. And hereâ€™s the quote:
â€œThe fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.â€
And that wasnâ€™t Madison or Jay.Â It was the man who at the time was seen as the greatest believer in centralized power, Alexander Hamilton.Â So, back then, even the great centralizer recognized that power comes from the People.Â And thatâ€™s the way it was at the beginning â€“ and thatâ€™s the way it is today.
So only when â€œWe the Peopleâ€ actually regain that power over the government that is supposed to be our agent â€“ only then will we ever see liberty and prosperity flourish in this country.
And, I believe that the path to this is not in Washington D.C.Â Itâ€™s not in asking federal politicians to let us exercise our rights, or hoping that federal judges will give us permission to exercise our rights.Â But instead, the path is in Tallahassee and state capitols around the country.Â Courageous State legislators â€“ like your own Carey Baker and Scott Plakon â€“ are calling on the Jeffersonian tradition of nullification to resist unconstitutional federal laws.
When a state “nullifies” a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or “non-effective,” within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, itâ€™s actually not a law as far as that state is concerned.Â We see this principle being raised in opposition to national ID cards, federal gun regulations and even proposed national health care plans.
Starting in 2007, there was a state-level resistance to the federal government that rose up in a way that this country hasnâ€™t seen since the mid-19th century.Â Approximately two dozen states simply refused to comply with federal law.Â They refused to implement the Bush era Real ID act.Â Â And guess what?Â Today itâ€™s gone without even needing congress to repeal it.
So whatâ€™s the lesson?Â Through nullification, we can effectively resist DC and whatever they try to shove down our throats.
This year, 26 states have seen a firearms freedom act introduced, and already two states have already made them law â€“ thatâ€™s Montana and Tennessee.
Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect to see ten states introduce state constitutional amendments which would effectively ban a forced national health care plan â€“ and your state of Florida is leading the way.
Thereâ€™s plenty of outrage these days, and that can be seen by the activism at town hall meetings around the country.Â But think of it this way – If, instead of making demands on federal politicians who donâ€™t listen to us anyway, all this energy was instead focused on state governments, weâ€™d probably see 10 or 20 health nullification bills in states already.Â And Obamaâ€™s health care program would be just that much closer to being dead in the water today.
The bottom line?Â As Jefferson wrote back in the Kentucky resolutions of 1798 â€“ the people of this country are not united on a principle of unlimited submission to their general government.
So, with that, I urge you â€“ each and every one of you here right now â€“ to take the ball and run with it.Â When people like you say â€œIâ€™m not going to wait anymore â€“ Iâ€™m going to lead!â€ thatâ€™s when weâ€™ll see this great movement in support of the constitution and your liberty really take off.
Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center.
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