By Mr. Curmudgeon:
“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.”
~ 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Many Americans mistakenly define the above as “states rights.” States have no rights … people do. As the Declaration of Independence states, “…Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The purpose of that power is first and foremost to “secure” the individual “rights” of every free man and woman.
The state legislature of Wyoming is considering a bill (HB0104) that prohibits state authorities from enforcing “any act, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming.”
The Firearm Protection Act further states, “Any official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not less than one year and one day or more than five years, a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or both.”
Annie-Rose Strasser at Thinkprogress says the Wyoming bill has “one glaring problem … If the federal government were to pass … [restrictive gun] measures, the bill would be unconstitutional. The constitutional theory they are implementing is called ‘nullification’ — where a state nullifies a federal law, in this case gun safety measures. The constitution actually stipulates that federal law ‘shall be the supreme law of the land.’”
Under the doctrine of nullification (what the Kentucky Resolution of 1798 called “interposition”), the individual states – whose powers are unlimited – agreed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to grant a limited portion of their powers to a national government. When the national government oversteps these limits, its creators – the states – have the authority to nullify unconstitutional laws enacted by an overreaching Washington.
The Kentucky Resolution was conceived in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), four laws passed by Congress that threatened fines or imprisonment to those who “write, print, utter, or publish … any false, scandalous and malicious writing” against” the government or any of its officials. Twenty newspaper editors were arrested – along with Rep. Matthew Lyon of Vermont. His crime? He wrote a letter attacking President John Adams for his “unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and self-avarice.”
You see, the Sedition Acts’ unconstitutional abridgments of free speech and redress of grievances were enacted several years before the U.S. Supreme Court usurped its power as sole arbiter of what is or isn’t constitutional.
According to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (who drafted the Kentucky resolution), that power properly resides with the people and their elected state representatives. A portion of the Kentucky Resolution reads as follows:
“That the several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but … they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each state to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force … that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties, appertaining to them.”
Jefferson later wrote: “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.”
Don’t you just love Jefferson! Progressive Washington – which includes the Supreme Court – has “taken possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.”
Progressives would have you believe that folks, like Jefferson, who believe political power belongs “to the States or to the people” are unsophisticated hayseeds. That America – which they can’t find on a map – began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal; that the states came about as an afterthought.
The unsophisticated rubes of the Progressive left would love for us to forget our history and the nation’s traditions of liberty lest “We the People” thwart the Progressive claim to boundless fields of power.
Wyoming’s state legislature is poised to remind authoritarian Washington that the power to declare congressional acts unconstitutional rests with the states … not the Supreme Court. Wyoming’s Firearm Protection Act will probably be declared unconstitutional by the usurping black-robed high priests of the Supreme Court, if not violently challenged by federal troops should Wyoming carry through with the bill’s mandates. But it will unmask Washington’s naked tyranny and make full ripe its injury to our liberty and state sovereignty.
And thus begins a state-led resistance movement.