by Michael Boldin
On July 21st, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th State to ratify the new Constitution, meeting the requirements to put it into effect. But, there was still uncertainty over whether the Constitution would be widely accepted. And, without ratification from Virginia and New York, it was thought by many that it wouldnâ€™t last.
Powerful organized opposition to the Constitution had developed in these two states and in others. Men such as Elbridge Gerry, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and George Mason spoke out against ratification.
Critics objected that a bill of rights had not been included, that the President had too much independence, and that the Senate was too aristocratic. They also thought Congress had too many powers and the national government had too much authority.
As Tom Woods recently wrote:
At Virginiaâ€™s ratifying convention, the concern was raised that phrases like “general welfare” could be cited by ambitious politicians who wanted to exercise powers beyond those outlined in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Federalist Edmund Randolph, who had been Virginiaâ€™s attorney general for the past decade, assured everyone that his fears were unfounded, for all rights were declared in the Constitution to be “completely vested in the people, unless expressly given away. Can there be a more pointed or positive reservation?”
In other words, this was a strictly limited and federal government.
After significant debate, Virginia ratified the Constitution on June 25, 1788. In the view of many historians, this led to New Yorkâ€™s ratification in July of that year.
And four years ago today, on June 25th, 2006, the Tenth Amendment Center was founded in an effort to bring those principles of limited, constitutional government back to the public sphere.
What started out as a small website and blog discussing the proper role of government under the constitution and the nearly continual violations of that document by the Bush administration, has grown over the years to grand central station of a national movement in support of the 10th Amendment.
But, what does that mean? What did the founders and ratifiers give us? Something unique in history – a document designed to protect our freedom by imposing law on those who wield political power. (thank you to Rob Natelson for this perspective) And, the 10th Amendment made law that all powers not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution would be left where they belong – to the state governments, or the people themselves, as they saw fit.
Most importantly, though, the founders, in the Constitution, didnâ€™t give us some kind of machine that would physically restrain politicians. They gave us a document. And anyone whoâ€™s spent the least bit of time with pieces of paper, no matter whatâ€™s written on them, knows full well that documents donâ€™t enforce themselves â€“ and they never will.
After countless decades of leaving the enforcement of the Constitution to the federal government, all around us we can see the results. Whatever political party is in power, and whatever personality occupies the white house, the power of the federal government continues to grow, unabated. In the 1990â€™s, who wouldâ€™ve thought that big-government Bill Clinton would some day appear to be a limited government guy? He obviously wasnâ€™t, but in comparison to the powers usurped by Bush, and even more by Obama, he was, relatively-speaking.
Thatâ€™s how far the federal government has strayed from Constitutional government. Itâ€™s so sad, itâ€™s almost absurd to think about.
So what do we do about it? As I wrote a few months agoâ€¦
- Do we call and email our representatives in Congress and ask them to limit their own power?
- Do we march on D.C. and demand that the government limit its own power?
- Do we sue them in their own courts and ask their judges to limit their power?
- Do we vote the bums out in 2010, or 2012 â€“ and ask new politicians to limit their own power?
We the people have been doing all this for a century, and itâ€™s not working.
When 2 more branches of the federal government are, in essence, conspiring against the Constitution and your liberty, you arenâ€™t supposed to wait four years for new politicians in the hope that theyâ€™ll fix it. Youâ€™re not supposed to wait two, or four, or more years for some black-robed judge to pronounce that theyâ€™ve violated your rights. You are supposed to resist those violations of your liberty as they happen â€“ and it is your stateâ€™s solemn duty to do the same.
The Tenth Amendment Center has, in recent years, led the charge in building a national movement to do just this. While we havenâ€™t done anywhere close to all the legwork, weâ€™ve been highly influential in bringing this issue to the mainstream.
In an early 2009 strategy meeting, we decided that our short term goal was to bring the principle of nullification â€“ states refusing to comply with unconstitutional federal â€œlawsâ€ â€“ to the public sphere. While it isnâ€™t yet a household word, weâ€™ve seen significant activity on this in state politics, the grassroots and even the mainstream media.
As Kevin Gutzman made clear in his book, Virginiaâ€™s American Revolution, nullification can be traced directly to the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788. There, supporters of the Constitution insisted that the federal government would have only the powers “expressly delegated” to it, and that the state would be “exonerated” if the federal government ever exercised power beyond those in the Constitution.
Our work has been reported on in major media from all across the political spectrum â€“ from Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and the Glenn Beck show to the Huffington Post and the NY Times. Surprisingly enough, the coverage of our work has rarely been negative â€“ itâ€™s hard to argue with people who consistently stand up for the constitution â€“ every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.
Dozens of states have taken this concept and are working to make it reality. More and more states are passing laws nullifying unconstitutional acts from DC on Guns, Marijuana, National Health Care, and Real ID. And others are beginning to consider similar actions on Cap and Trade, Monetary Policy, and more. And, in the last 8 months alone, weâ€™ve set up more than 2 dozen state and local TAC chapters to support this kind of activity on the ground, in your area.
But we canâ€™t rest here â€“ thereâ€™s a LOT of work to be done. On June 28th, Tom Woodsâ€™ new book, Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, hits the shelves â€“ with you spreading the word and the publicity team at Regnery Publishing behind it, this message will reach many, many more people in the coming months.
In order to continue our growth, weâ€™ve got a lot planned surrounding this.
- Event Tour: Weâ€™ve partnered with top liberty-activists, Trevor Lyman and Kurt Wallace to launch or first series of events, NullifyNow!, which features great speakers like Tom Woods, Jack Hunter, Jim Babka and more to be announced soon. Already signed on as co-sponsors are organizations like CampaignforLiberty, The New American, John Birch Society, Young Americans for Liberty and many others. (you can learn more and start getting tickets today at THIS LINK)
- Radio: Weâ€™re planning an online, call-in radio show, where weâ€™ll have as guests many of the commentators and experts we feature as columnists on our website. Weâ€™re also working to secure some big-name guests, plus weâ€™ll give reports from our local chapters on what you can do now â€“ in support of liberty.
- Model Legislation: Weâ€™ve just released a TAC-approved suite of legislation that covers issues all over the political spectrum. Whether its states standing up for your rights to your own health decisions or your right to grow what plant you want to, our legislation demands that states do their duty â€“ and protect your rights from all comers. Pick one model act out â€“ and urge your state politicians to introduce it next year. The time to act on that is now.
The sad part about all this fantastic growth and activity is this â€“ we simply canâ€™t continue on this path forever. At least, not without your financial support. While many of you have been more than generous with regular contributions, the fact of the matter is that doing everything weâ€™re doing today â€“ and what weâ€™re planning in the near future â€“ is extremely expensive. We need your help today.
Weâ€™re a volunteer-run organization, so our costs are extremely low right now. Weâ€™ve been able to do all this on a budget of less than $1500/month. Some groups out there do less with tens of thousands a week!
So, I’ll come out and just ask – can you please help us today?
Hereâ€™s what we need â€“ nowâ€¦
To continue the work weâ€™re doing, we need not only to pay for some administrative support, but we need funds to invest in upcoming projects. To run our tour, get our radio show launched, and to actively lobby state politicians to step up even more in 2011, we need to double our budget for the rest of this year. That means, we need $18,000 to barely cover our work for the remainder of this year.
What does that break down to?
Just 360 people donating $50
Just 100 people donating $100
Just 1000 people donating $17.98 (the amount seemed so appropriate!)
Or, of course, if there were ten of you giving $1800, weâ€™d be set!
This is new for me â€“ Iâ€™ve never given one of these donation pleas â€“ but itâ€™s needed. Hopefully Iâ€™ve made the case wellâ€¦.and hopefully the work weâ€™ve done already â€“ and have planned for the future â€“ is worth some of the limited resources you have available. When you get down to it, weâ€™ll be thankful for any help you can give, whether itâ€™s $1800, or $1.80. Please give what you can and help us do what we intend to do.
While the Tenth Amendment Center may seem like only a slingshot against an army, but thatâ€™s what they said about David. (thanks to Lew Rockwell for this perspective!) Our slogan, Concordia res Parvae Crescunt, is what this is all about.
Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center
Copyright Â© 2010 by TenthAmendmentCenter.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.