by Michael Boldin
Today is the Tenth Amendment Center’s 8th anniversary. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this for eight years!
Looking back, I’m blown away by what the Tenth Amendment Center has grown into. But growth comes with growing pains.
I have to admit, there are times – and they have happened often in the last few weeks – that I can barely muster the energy to keep pushing on. My inability to raise the money needed to pay myself a paltry $10/hour along with barely a handful of part-time team members has been giving me thoughts of throwing in the towel.
In my worst moments, I’ve had thoughts like this: “I’ve given eight years of my life. I have no car, no insurance, no retirement fund, no cellphone plan, and have had just one week of vacation in a decade. And the public, by not giving me the funding after so many years – to really get the job done – is telling me that they don’t want, or need, this kind of dedication and sacrifice from me.”
But those thoughts become fleeting when things happen like they did yesterday. Eight years ago, I started a blog with about 20 bucks. And yesterday, a California assembly committee passed a bill I originally wrote to start the process of turning off resources to the NSA. It already passed the Senate 29-1, and should get to the Governor’s desk this year.
Bigger yet, the official assembly analysis of the bill cites not only the Tenth Amendment (yes, in California), but also the Tenth Amendment Center as a legal authority on why the bill can and should be passed.
Think about that. It is a massive step forward.
In 2006, the 10th Amendment was dead, having lost in the famous Gonzales v. Raich Supreme Court opinion that said state marijuana laws had no effect on federal law or policy.
In 2008-9, a number of red-states passed non-binding resolutions citing the 10th Amendment and calling for a limit on federal power.
From 2010 to last year, a growing number of states started passing bills rejecting federal power, with a number of them citing the 10th Amendment as the legal authority to do so.
Last month, the Democrat-led New York State Assembly passed a bill authorizing medical marijuana and cited the 10th Amendment in support.
This legislation is an appropriate exercise of the state’s legislative power to protect the health of its people under article 17 of the state constitution and the tenth amendment of the United States constitution.
Yesterday’s passage of SB828 in California took it to the next level. First, they cited the 10th Amendment in support of the bill:
Existing law States that the 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. (U.S. Const., 10th Amend.)
And they also specifically cited us at the TAC as a legal authority in support of the bill:
Argument in Support : The Tenth Amendment Center states, “Recent revelations make it clear that the NSA operations violate the Constitution on a daily basis. The Fourth sets up clear parameters for searching and seizing personal information. The founders chafed under general warrants issued by the British government that allowed random searches at the whim of the authorities. The NSA operates in much the same manner, thrusting a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment’s intent.
“While California cannot bar the NSA from operating within its borders, it does not have to cooperate with or support the agency. The well-established anti-commandeering doctrine, holding that the federal government cannot coerce or compel states to implement or enforce federal regulations or programs, puts SB828 on firm legal footing.”
Conservatives and Tea Party members will, undoubtedly, tell me that “those liberals are just using the 10th Amendment for their own advantage.” On the other hand, Progressives and Liberals have been telling me pretty much the same thing for years regarding state efforts to block federal health programs, gun laws, and the like. “Those conservatives are just using the 10th Amendment for their own advantage.” I hear it all the time.
But that’s the whole point of the Tenth Amendment – a system where people are able to advance the causes that are important to them in their own area.
One-size-fits-all solutions in a nation of more than 300 million people simply don’t work.
Conservatives elect presidents that expand federal control over education and the health industry (Bush, for example). And liberals elect presidents that continue to wage wars and expand federal spying programs (both of which the left protested vehemently for years). Neither side gets what it wants on a national level. And both sides end up making excuses about why their failure presidents are better than what “the other guy” would have done.
So, partly because of our tireless work here at the Tenth Amendment Center, both sides of the political aisle are learning that they can get done what they want to get done – but on a state level instead of a federal level.
This is something that – with your help – we will continue to advance in bigger and bigger ways each year. The end result will not be a country where every state reflects the same values as you. That’s not what the Founders intended when the formed a union through the Constitution.
Instead, the end result is that you will actually have a chance to prove to the country that your ideas work. In a one-size-fits-all system, that never happens. You never get what you want politically. But in a decentralized Tenth Amendment system, you can.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
I’m just a regular guy with no special training for this and plenty of personal shortcomings. I never say thank you enough to the people who help me, I get nervous to make a public presentation or even a simple phone call, I lack patience and understanding, and have many other human flaws.
Eight years ago today, I started a simple blog with the hope that if I wrote about the abuse of power under the Bush administration, people would learn a little about the proper role of government under the Constitution.
Today, both the California and New York State Assemblies are passing bills citing the 10th Amendment. Eight years ago, you would have called me crazy if I even suggested that such a bill would be simply introduced in those states. But today, it’s happening.
In a time when the bad guys keep getting more and more power, I know that our work here at the Tenth Amendment Center is a path to victory, a glimmer of hope in what often seems like a hopeless world.
Even though I regularly have a hard time – primarily because of the financial difficulties – seeing a path for another eight years, I know that I’ve made a difference. And if I can get the ball rolling like this, with all my personal flaws and shortcomings, I know you can do the same – if not more.
For me, I believe that liberty can win. With your help, we will get the job done.
Please help us out here:
Concordia res parvae crescunt
(small things grow great by concord)