What is States’ Rights? Part 3

by Mike Crane of Morgantown, Georgia

In Part 1 of this series a concept was presented that runs a bit contrary to current public conception – that the term States’ Rights can be used more for partisan benefit than a true effort to protect the God-given Rights of the people.  Part 2 demonstrated that as early as 1801 incursions attacking American Liberty had already started and have continued to this day. In fact – in the 210 years since 1801 these incursions have grown into a rout.

From a definition (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia® Copyright © 2007) of federated government:

“ … The distribution of powers between the federal and state governments is usually accomplished by means of a written constitution, for a federation does not exist if authority can be allocated by ordinary legislation.…”

Today it would be laughable to state that the federal government does not create “new” authority from not only legislation but also judicial edict and historically has also used armed aggression. One does not have to look very far to find examples of federal government laws that are obviously beyond the scope that any of the Founding Fathers or Framers of the Constitution of 1787 could have conceived.

Let’s look at such an example that most sane citizens would agree is an example of the central government (The United States) that denies (as opposed to guaranteeing) a citizen’s God-given Rights; is certainly on questionable grounds for being within delegated powers; and is somewhat stupid to boot.

Roscoe Filburn was a farmer in Ohio. The Secretary of Agriculture in 1940 established his grain quota as 11.1 acres under the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 based upon regulating inter-state commerce. He grew 23 acres and used all of his grain to feed his livestock or his family.

The law and case summary deals with “grain quotas” laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President – to regulate inter-state commerce. The farmer grew an extra 11.9 acres for use on his own land. This was deemed to be a violation of the federal government “quota” established to regulate inter-state commerce and he was fined. The Supreme Court (Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)), sided with the government of which it is part – in effect placing usage of private land for personal consumption into the realm of inter-state commerce and Congressional regulation even if the resulting product never leaves a citizens property!

In this case all three branches of the federal government have in effect greatly expanded their “power” to regulate inter-state commerce delegated in Article I. Section 8:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;


To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

[Emphasis added]

It is certainly not obvious that grain grown on a farm and never leaves the farm is Commerce among the several States! The following excerpt from the referenced Supreme Court decision confirms that this legislation was an expansion of the power in the Constitution:

The present Chief Justice has said in summary of the present state of the law: ‘The commerce power is not confined in its exercise to the regulation of commerce among the states. It extends to those activities intrastate which so affect interstate commerce, or the exertion of the power of Congress over it, as to make regulation of them appropriate means to the attainment of a legitimate end, the effective execution of the granted power to regulate interstate commerce.

[Emphasis added]

The three branches of the federal government from my perspective generated an expansion of their regulatory authority in this case as they can do in any case where the three branches so decide.

The issue being presented here is not whether or not such laws are good or bad. The issue is whether or not the federal government has become the judge of what it can and cannot do. It does not matter if you are a “conservative”, “liberal”, “middle of the road”, Republican, Democrat or just don’t give a hoot. American Liberty is not a political position – it is a form of government whose primary purpose is to guarantee your God-given Rights!

·         Does our current form of government protect and guarantee our God-given Rights?

·         If it does not, and if it has become its own judge of what its powers are, then regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum – from right to left – you and your future generations will either belong to an elite – or you will suffer tyranny!

For those who have problems understanding the second bullet above – you do not understand why our Colonial forefathers seceded and fought against the world’s most powerful nation to gain their and your independence!

If you understand the second bullet then you also understand why our Confederate forefathers seceded and fought against the world’s most powerful nation in an effort to gain their and your independence. If you do not understand the latter, then you do not fully understand the second bullet.

A growing number of American citizens are finally beginning to understand that the central government, known as the government of The United States is not working like they want it to. The mantra and battle cry for many of these concerned citizens is to emphasize “States’ Rights,” “State Sovereignty,” and “Nullification.”

These concepts have a very solid foundation among many of our Founding Fathers such as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Reusing the example from President Jefferson’s first State of The Union report to Congress:

When we consider that this Government is charged with the external and mutual relations only of these States; that the States themselves have principal care of our persons, our property, and our reputation, constituting the great field of human concerns, we may well doubt whether our organization is not too complicated, too expensive; whether offices and officers have not been multiplied unnecessarily and sometimes injuriously to the service they were meant to promote.”

[Emphasis added]

States’ Rights as an aspect of government in our land draws support from Article VII of the Constitution of 1787.

“The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.”

This is clearly an agreement between the “States.” Historically this is confirmed by the fact that not all thirteen States ratified the Constitution of 1787 at the same time. The States created the government known today as The United States by withdrawing from the previous government they had created by a similar name under the Articles of Confederation (Article I):

The Stile of this Confederacy shall be “The United States of America”.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of 1787 also supports the concept of  “States’ Rights” (Amendment X):

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.”

Now go back and read the example above about the farmer who grew too much wheat under the Congressional law. When the central government can expand the legal definition of its delegated powers at will, how can one ever define the phrase “not delegated?”

There is a major, very major problem with today’s doctrine of “States’ Rights” (including “State Sovereignty” and “Nullification”):

For over 200 years it has not worked! The Constitution was ratified in 1789 and the 10th Amendment was ratified in 1791 – so if they are the solution – why has the problem gotten worse for 200 years?

It is the opinion of this writer that if we are to restore and preserve American Liberty for our future generations – State Powers must be used as a check on the central government and to concurrently guarantee our God-given Rights. We need to understand what went wrong, why it has continued and what will have to be done to avoid the cliff American Liberty is approaching. What went wrong is complex and thus …

To be continued …

What is States’ Rights – Part 1
What is States’ Rights – Part 2
What is States’ Rights – Part 4
What is States’ Rights – Part 5
What is States’ Rights – Part 6

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