by State Rep. Dennis Richardson (OR-4th)

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
–James Madison

In recent decades, we Americans have silently watched as federal agencies, Congress and our Presidents have relentlessly eroded the fundamental, constitutionally protected rights of the states and the American people.

Whether we are liberals, moderates or conservatives is immaterial. Constitutional law is non-partisan. We are red (Republicans), white (Independents), and blue (Democrats) Americans, and we love our state, our country and we honor the United States Constitution. It was written to limit the power of the central government and thereby protect the rights of the states and the people.

Yet, the federal government has assumed authority over state issues such as, regulating our forests, farms and fisheries, managing Oregon’s public lands and beaches, maintaining a clean environment, defining marriage and domestic partnerships, and regulating abortions and end-of-life decisions. These are issues not granted or “enumerated” in the Constitution and are therefore, retained by the states and the people, and should not be dictated by distant bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

This debate over federalism goes to the very heart of the American experiment. Are we citizens of 50 states, united in the common goal of ensuring “that this government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth,” or are we subjects of the federal government, divided into 50 provinces, subservient to the “mother country”? The promise of America, as enumerated in America’s “birth certificate,” the Declaration of Independence, and in its foundational charter, the United States Constitution, proclaim we are a free people who have created a central government with limited power.

In the past few years, the power of the federal government has grown dramatically. Whether you believe it necessary or not, consider for a moment the significance of nationalizing the banking system, the automobile industry, Wall Street, $12 Trillion of additional national debt, and the current discussions for a federally controlled health care system. As Bob Dylan crooned when I was young, “the times, they are a-changing.”

Change is inevitable, yet without a compass our nation and our freedom can be lost. The compass that has guided us for 222 years, that has kept America the land of the free and the hope of the world, is the United States Constitution. As an Oregon legislator, I have sworn to uphold and defend it. You can too.

Oregon’s current legislative session is drawing to a close, and there is one bi-partisan, pro-constitution bill that needs to be debated and passed by all Representatives and Senators who honor and sustain the Constitution. The bill is House Joint Memorial 17. It is a letter to our elected officials in Washington D.C., and it states the following:

House Joint Memorial 17.

To the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:

We, your memorialists, the Seventy-fifth Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon, in legislative session assembled, respectfully represent as follows:

Whereas the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides, “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”; and

Whereas the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

Whereas the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

Whereas in 2009, the states are instead treated as agents of the federal government; and

Whereas many federal mandates are imposed by the federal government in direct violation of the Tenth Amendment; and

Whereas the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 175 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

Whereas many proposals being considered by the federal government or pending before Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:

(1) The Congress of the United States of America is requested to direct the federal government to immediately cease and desist imposing mandates that are beyond the scope of those powers expressly delegated by the Constitution of the United States to the federal government, so that the State of Oregon may freely exercise the sovereignty due the State of Oregon under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(2) A copy of this memorial shall be sent to the President of the United States, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and each member of the Oregon Congressional Delegation.


If you care about preserving the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, please vote in the brief survey located here. The results will be circulated to your Representatives and Senators, asking them to consider your feelings about the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U. S. Constitution.

Dennis Richardson [send him email] represents Oregon’s 4th District.  “Without informed and involved citizens, self-serving special interest groups take control–and the taxpayers are left to pay the bill.”

The 10th Amendment

“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.”



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