Standing up for Liberty

by Ray Bilger

The conclusion of my last article read, “If there is any hope for America, it lies with We The People taking back our country from the crooks and criminals in Wash., D.C. who are running our country into the ground… There is a new hope for America… and it involves the States and the People working together, as the Founders intended, to make the America of all our dreams.”

The State governments of the original Thirteen States of the United States of America established the federal government to act as their agent in a world of interdependent nations.  Those original Thirteen States did not have to establish a federal government, but because those states collectively wanted to be represented to the world as one whole nation of States, they chose to have an agent, our federal government, to represent the collective interests of the several States.  Thus, the federal government, as our agent, is at all times accountable to the States, and to We The People!

Details

The Constitution or Liberty

by Sheldon Richman, Foundation for Economic Education

“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

We might think those words—or words to the same effect—are in the U.S. Constitution. But they are not. They are from Article II of the Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution. They could have been placed in the U.S. Constitution but were deliberately left out in 1787.

Details

State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing

by Dave Nalle

You may not have heard much about it, but there’s a quiet movement afoot to reassert state sovereignty and stop the uncontrolled expansion of federal government power. Almost half of the state legislatures are considering or have representatives preparing to introduce resolutions which reassert the principles of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution and the idea that federal power is strictly limited to specific areas detailed in the Constitution and that all other governmental authority rests with the states.

Details

If At First You Don’t Secede

Guest Commentary from VirginiaConservative

If you have spent anytime at all in the western part of Virginia, you’ll find that monuments dedicated to U.S. Civil War are just about everywhere. For example, there are historical markers, statues, even an occasional flag or two. Generally, a lot of people who are native to the Shenandoah Valley are quite suspicious of the government in Washington due, in part, to the events before, during, and after that conflict. After all, a number of battles took place here and tales of the brutal actions of General Sheridan linger in the minds of many to this very day.

But now time for a bit of history, eh? The idea of secession was integral to the formation of the United States of America. After all, the War for American Independence against Great Britain was a secessionist movement. The thirteen colonies (or states) no longer sought redress or a greater sway in the matter of the government of Great Britain, but instead wished to break free of that government and to rule themselves as they saw fit.

Details

Is it Possible to Restore Constitutionalism?

by Gary S. Lawson, Heritage Foundation

When the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification in 1787, many citizens worried that the new national government proposed by the document was a Leviathan in waiting. During the crucial New York ratification debate, James Madison, writing as Publius, sought to allay these fears in the 45th Federalist Paper by emphasizing that adoption of the Constitution would create a government of enumerated, and therefore strictly limited, powers. Madison said: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined… [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce….”[1] Federal tax collectors, Madison assured everyone, “will be principally on the seacoast, and not very numerous.”[2] Exactly six months after publication of this essay, New York became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution.

Once the national government was up and running, disputes naturally arose about the proper scope of its “few and defined” powers and about the proper institutional form for the exercise of those powers. It is helpful to examine just a few of those early disputes to get a sense of the frontiers of constitutional argument in the Founding era–that is, to gauge the kinds of claims regarding federal power that generated serious discussion. Those examples provide an interesting basis for comparison with modern law.

Details

Liberty and Obedience

by David Gordon, Mises.org

The dedication of Restoring the Lost Constitution, “To James Madison and Lysander Spooner,” at once alerts us that we confront an unusual book. During the Constitutional Convention, Madison supported a strong national government; Spooner, by contrast, subjected to withering criticism the notion that the people of the United States had consented to the Constitution. Whom does Barnett support? The Father of the Constitution or the author of The Constitution of No Authority?

Barnett soon makes clear his response. He finds convincing Spooner’s assault on consent theories of political obligation. But this does not lead him to question the need for a state. Quite the contrary, he aims to extricate government from Spooner’s challenge: since consent does not underlie our obligation to obey the state, Barnett must locate something better that will do the job.

Details

The Constitution: A Politically-Incorrect Guide

by David Gordon, Mises.org

Kevin Gutzman gives his readers much more than they had a right to expect. The “Politically Incorrect Guide” series in which his book appears aims at a popular audience: its goal is to correct commonly held myths of leftist propaganda.

Gutzman eminently fulfills this goal, but his book cannot be called an elementary work. Quite the contrary, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is a major contribution to American constitutional history.

Gutzman is a leading authority on the Virginia ratification debates on the Constitution, and he uses his research to great effect. He has been much influenced by the pioneering originalist scholar Raoul Berger, but he strengthens and extends Berger’s views.

Details

The Role of “The People” in Protecting Inalienable Rights

by Ed Noyes, SuperLiberty.com

It is interesting to know that many of the attendees at the Constitutional Convention held in 1787 were OPPOSED to including a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Why would this be so? The chief concern was that if a written bill of rights were included, the people would, over time, think that these rights were the ONLY rights they had. They were wise enough to know that the people would not understand how vast this body of “inalienable” rights was, and would therefore allow the government (especially the federal government) to dictate, and invade, the sacred domain of self-government that was to remain with the people.

As a result, the Bill of Rights was not included in the original Constitution, but was later introduced by James Madison in 1789 to the First United States Congress as a series of amendments to the Constitution.

Details

Were the States Sovereign Nations?

by Brian McCandliss, LewRockwell.com

A defining – but so far unasked – question regarding the Civil War is the political status of the states: specifically, was the “United States of America” indeed, as our popular Pledge of Allegiance claims, “one nation, indivisible?” Or was it, rather, a union of sovereign nations, bound only to each other by mere treaty, as with any other treaty – such as the current United Nations? (As a point of fact, the term “union” is the only term used in the text of the Constitution to refer to the United States, while the word “nation” never appears a single time).

This question seems to be the proverbial “elephant in the room” of American law and history, for its answer is key in defining a state’s right of secession: this question marks the difference between, for example, Boston seceding from Massachusetts, and Spain seceding from the United Nations. While in the first instance, few would question the legal right of state officials to use force in preventing local urban inhabitants from seceding with a state’s city, such an exercise against a sovereign nation in the latter example would be (hopefully) viewed as nothing short of ruthless imperialism equivalent to that of Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler or Genghis Khan.

Details