â€œWill you step into my parlor?â€ said the spider to the fly;
â€œâ€™Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.â€
â€œO no, no,â€ said the little fly, â€œto ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can neâ€™er come down again.â€
—The Spider and the Fly
President Obama issued Executive Order 13528 on January 11, 2010 establishing a Council of Governors ostensibly â€œto strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government and State governments to protect our Nation and its people and property.â€
If history has taught us anything, it is to beware of â€œcooperative partnershipsâ€ between the federal government and states. They invariably result in an expansion of federal authority and reach at the expense of the states and a diminution of individual rights and freedoms in the name of the general welfare and national security. So-called â€œcooperative federalismâ€ is a snare and a delusion. Read more here
One direct result of the new Council of Governors will be to provide the federal government more control of state National Guards, allowing the president to synchronize and integrate federal military operations within the United States. The total disregard for the Posse Comitatus Act within this order is one more erosion of restrictions against the use of the military for law enforcement.
More generally, the new Council of Governors establishes a bureaucratic transmission belt for the president to conscript state governors to act as agents of the federal government. Indeed, by establishing this council, appointed by the president and presided over by the Secretary of Defense, President Obama is asking governors to engage in the ultimate act of sovereign suicide in the name of â€œintergovernmental cooperation and coordination.â€ This council represents the ultimate in “intergovernmentalism,” a perversion of true federalism.
I have written about the corrosive nature of intergovernmentalism or so-called â€œcooperative federalismâ€ extensively.
Intergovernmentalism Replaces Federalism
â€œAfter World War II, federalism was replaced by â€˜intergovernmentalism, an unlovely term for the unlovely transformation of the sovereign states into bureaucratic extensions of the central government. . . It is an interesting exercise to analyze why the U.S. Constitution failed in this, its most important function.
â€œIt is not necessary to come to any definitive conclusion as to why it [federalism] failed to know that is has, in fact, failed. It is sufficient to observe the statesâ€™ advanced stage of political decrepitude and legal dilapidation; the relatively low-quality of their elected and appointed officials; their incapacity to defend themselves legally, politically or physically against the national government; their fiscal dependence upon the national government; their reliance upon the national government operationally; their subservience to the national government in every respect; their low regard in the eyes of the public and the lesser affection and attention they receive from the electorate.â€
The presidentâ€™s latest executive order is of a piece with his December 17, 2009 executive directive amending Executive Order 12425 to grant immunity to Interpol agents operating within the United States, paving the way for Interpol to be conscripted by the president as a kind of Swiss Guard.
Taken together, these two executive orders represent another quantum leap in the continued erosion of meaningful constraints on the federal governmentâ€™s police power, and they constitute a frightening continuation of this presidentâ€™s expansion of the military-industrial-police state at his command.
Governors should decline the Presidentâ€™s invitation to step into his Council. State officials who enter into these federal labyrinths never come out with their sovereignty in tact.
Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE to view model legislation to reassert State control over national guard troops.
Dr. Lawrence A. Hunter is President of the Social Security Institute, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, and Senior Fellow at Americans for Prosperity and the Institute for Policy Innovation where he does economic research and writes reports on a diverse range of public policy issues.