NOTE: The following remarks are based off a speech given at the Ban the Scan rally in New York City on June 10, 2011.
Question…if the federal government passed a law, in direct violation of the first amendment, that required you to participate in a particular religious service every Friday night, would you sit quietly and obey? Or, would you refuse to submit?
And, if the state of California passed a law not only denouncing such unconstitutional acts, but making their enforcement a crime, would you cheer them on for protecting the people there from religious tyranny, or would you say that California was violating federal supremacy?
Iâ€™d say weâ€™re pretty much all in agreement here that the TSA is out of control. Some of us (yours truly included) would argue that the TSA shouldnâ€™t even exist at all. But the real Question we face is this – What do we do about it?
–Should we call on the TSA and demand that this federal agency limit its own power?
–Or, should we march on DC and demand that the federal politicians limit the power of a federal agency that THEY voted for, and that they fund to the tune of 8 billion dollars?
–Or, should we boycott the airlines till they go broke….in the hopes that their buddies in dc won’t tell us that the airline industry is just “too big to fail” and then hand them another 15-20 billion of YOUR money like bush did in 2001?
–Or, should we go to federal courts in the hope that the 9 politically connected unaccountable federal lawyers will limit this federal agency – and give us permission to travel freely?
–Or maybe, we should just vote the bums out – in the hopes that the new bums will just say – oh, ok – sorry about the previous bums, weâ€™ll fix everything for you….?
For decades and decades….and decades – â€œwe the peopleâ€ have been marching on DC. We’ve been calling, and boycotting, and demanding, and suing – and voting bums out. But year in and year out – we have more and more violations of our rights. And, it doesnâ€™t matter what political party is in power, the same continues on, and on….and on… They continually claim more and more power each year to “protect” you from some far off enemy. They claim the power to listen to your calls, to read your emails, monitor your bank accounts, bomb countries like Libya and Pakistan and Yemen. And now, to physically violate you, your children, and your grandparents. Both democrats and republicans alike have pushed and supported these kinds of measures for ages.
The question remains, then, what do we do about it?
My message tonight is pretty straightforward. The politicians in Washington DC will never help you on this.
A NEW DIRECTION FOR LIBERTY
Going to the federal government to fix problems created by the federal government is a failed strategy – it doesnâ€™t work. Period. What we need is something different. We need something that WILL work – and we need that now. And whether you know it or not, thatâ€™s what weâ€™re here doing tonight, right now.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were pretty smart dudes. Back in 1798, they advised us what to do in situations like weâ€™re facing today – where all three branches of the federal government were part of the problem.
That year, the sedition acts were passed – which criminalized free speech critical of the government. In response, those two smart dudes penned what became known as the “principles of ’98.” They were, most importantly, a blueprint for what we should do about unconstitutional “laws” from the federal government.
Jefferson wrote – â€œThe several states composing the united states of america are not united on a principle of unlimited submission to their general government.” and, whensoever …”the general government assumes undelegated powers, a nullification of the act is THE rightful remedy.”
Madison, on the other hand, had his vision too. He wrote that states are “duty bound to interpose”, to stand between residents of the state and the federal government to prevent the harm that would result from a “deliberate, palpable, and dangerous” unconstitutional action by the federal government.
Sounds nice, right, but what does that mean for today?
Weâ€™re not supposed to wait 2 or 4 years for some new politicians to get in office and give us permission to be free. Weâ€™re not supposed to wait 2 or 4 or 6 years for some federal court to tell us, “ok, you can fly without being abused now.” Weâ€™re supposed to stand up and say no. In our communities. Now. Not next year, and not next fall. Today. Not tomorrow. Now.
So when the feds threatened the state of Texas with a kind of a no-fly zone last month for considering a bill to ban pat downs without probable cause, the response should have been in the spirit of Jefferson and Madison. A reply could’ve gone something like this:
“Dear federal government, thank you for your note and opinion. Go to hell.”
While many were shocked at the letter sent to Texas, threatening people not to fly is really nothing new.
In 2005, the Bush administration and the republican-controlled Congress slammed through the real ID act. We were told that in the coming years, we would be required to have this new privacy-violating national ID card or we wouldn’t be able to do all sorts of things, including boarding planes. Starting in 2007, though, led by groups like the ACLU, states including Maine, New Hampshire, Montana and others began passing resolutions and laws denouncing the act, and refusing compliance with it. In no time, more than a dozen were saying no…flat-out refusing to obey. In early 2008, the Bush administration started issuing the threats. Montana, who had already unanimously passed a law to nullify real ID was on notice. Residents were warned that if their state didn’t comply, and pronto, they wouldn’t be able to fly.
In an interview on NPR, governor Schweitzer was asked about the threats to his state’s residents….what are you going to do, governor? His response?
QUOTE: “we found that it’s best to tell ‘em to go to Hell and run the state the way you want to run your state.”
He continued, saying that by passing a law rejecting the act, the state said.”we’re fed up with the federal government coming up with kookie IDs that do not make us more secure. This is the federal government telling a state must do something and you must pay for it. Well, thanks for playing. Montana’s not in.”
THE BACK DOWN
What happened when Schweitzer told Bush to go to hell? Did they shut down air travel like they threatened? Did they pull highway funding, did they roll in the tanks to quell the defiant resistance? Nope. They quietly backed off and showed that Montana and the other resisting states really hold the power. And, in the past 5 years, more than two dozen states have passed laws and resolutions refusing to comply with the real ID act. Here’s why this is significant. The law is still on the books in congress. It has never been challenged in court. But yet, through state and local resistance, it sits null and void in most of the country. State and local nullification – through noncompliance – works.
Today, there are five states considering bills to ban unconstitutional TSA practices, and sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect at least 10 more states doing the same in 2012. Utah has already announced a bill just like the one in Texas. And if people like Greenfield would have the courage to follow through and do the same right here in NYC, I know that he will get popular support like he’s never seen in his life.
25 states have effectively nullified the real ID act. Following the lead of my home state, California, 15 states are now increasingly rejecting the unconstitutional war on drugs with their own medical marijuana programs.
so here we now have a strategy – a Method that actually works – itâ€™s three main steps.
1. resolve that youâ€™re opposed to being violated, bullied and brutalized by this government.
2. leverage locally – press your local government to do their job….DUTY is what that smart dude Madison called it – interpose, stand between you and an oppressive federal agency, pass a law or even a resolution banning the groping, the scanning, or both.
3. network and join forces nationally – work to get other communities and other states on board doing the same.
What will happen? When enough people say NO to the TSA, and enough communities and states back them by passing laws to say NO too, there’s not much that DC can do to force their 4th amendment violating, unconstitutional garbage down our throats!
CONCORDIA RES PARVAE CRESCUNT
Back in 1767, the British parliament passed the â€œNew York Restraining Actâ€ – which closed down the NY assembly because they refused to comply with what they considered a previous unconstitutional act.
In response, John Dickinson, often referred to as â€œthe Penman of the Revolutionâ€ wrote a series of 12 essays known as â€œLetters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.â€ He wrote:
If the parliament may lawfully deprive New York of any of her rights, it may deprive any, or all the other colonies of their rights; and nothing can possibly so much encourage such attempts, as a mutual inattention to the interests of each other. To divide, and thus to destroy, is the first political maxim in attacking those, who are powerful by their union.
He continued to say that, in essence, the rightful response at that moment would have been for other assemblies to have passed a simple non-binding resolution denouncing the act. Why? His answer came through clearly in his signature, where he wrote the Latin phrase, Concordia res parvae crescunt.
Small things grow great by concord.
Clearly, the Penman of the Revolution was right â€“ and small things did grow great in the coming years. Each small step, every small act – opens new eyes to our cause. And when the cause is right and just, the tyrants who run the tsa, or the war mongers who bomb libya and yemen – will lose.
So no matter how difficult the odds, or how insurmountable the path may seem – I believe that itâ€™s up to us to do whatâ€™s right. And for us at the Tenth Amendment Center, doing whatâ€™s right is pretty straightforward – the Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions and no excuses.
Thank you for listening and thank you for joining us in this historic struggle for liberty.