States tell Feds to pound sand

The Internal Revenue Service gives subsidies when it wants. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Environmental Protection Agency redefine words on a whim in an effort to give themselves more power and more control over your life. “Legislating from the bench” has been superseded by this even more dangerous “lawmaking” by unelected, unaccountable federal agencies.

As Chapman law professor Ronald Rotunda noted recently, we “have come a long way towards governance by bureaucrats.” Some states, however, are taking positive steps in 2015 to thwart the effects of these unilateral — and wildly unconstitutional — acts.

The following is an overview of state legislation to thwart federal overreach that’s moving forward right now.

Federal gun control

Even though the ATF has, at least temporarily, backed down on a proposed M855 ammo ban, gun rights advocates should be alarmed. More of this should be expected moving forward, that is, more gun control no matter whom you elect to Congress.

In Arizona, however, a bill that would effectively block in practice any additional restrictions on the natural right to keep and bear arms has already passed the state Senate by a 17-12 vote and is due for further consideration in the state House in the near future. A similar bill passed the Montana Legislature and is going to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk, and another in Tennessee is up for a do-or-die vote in committee this week.

Other states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen legislation introduced, but not yet considered. Should any of the bills pass into law, they’d join Idaho, which in 2014 was the first in the country to pass legislation specifically designed to thwart any new federal gun control measures.

Broader bills have been introduced in other states, with the goal of addressing not just new federal gun control measures, but nearly all of them. Missouri HB1341 would make any federal gun control measure — past, present or future — invalid and unenforceable in the state. And two Texas bills, HB413 and HB422, would work together to do almost the same. Should either pass, they’d join Alaska, which passed a similar law in 2013.


The Food and Drug Administration has a lengthy process for approving new treatments for people. In some situations, however, that long process can actually kill people.

Take, for example, the case of Mikaela Knapp, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She and her husband, Keith, launched a social media campaign to lobby drug firms and the FDA to give her access to a new gene therapy. Their efforts gained national attention and generated 200,000 signatures on a petition, but failed to win access to the treatment. The 25-year-old newlywed died a few months later.

In 2014, Arizona residents approved Prop. 303, a measure that now allows people the “Right to Try” some experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. They joined Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan in passing such legislation.

In 2015, governors in Wyoming in Arkansas have already signed a Right to Try act into law. Bills in Virginia, Montana, Indiana, Utah and Mississippi have also passed the full legislature and are awaiting a signature from each state’s governor.

“These laws are a no-brainer,” said Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center. “When someone is on their deathbed, the fact that FDA regulations would let them die rather than try, has got to be one of the most inhumane policies of the federal government. Every state should nullify the FDA like this.”


The total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2014 was recently said to be at least $620 million. According to the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a nonprofit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, this includes items like nondairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions, along with clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products.

Federal regulations resulting in a de facto ban on hemp farming has created a situation where the U.S. is the world’s No. 1 importer of hemp, while China and Canada are the top two exporters in the world.

And while the Feds now “allow” hemp farming for “research purposes,” some states and individuals have taken action beyond what is permitted and are now harvesting crops for commercial purposes.

Hemp is already being farmed in both Colorado and Vermont. On Feb. 2, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business. One week later, the first license went to a small nonprofit group that hopes to plant 25 acres this spring. The Tennessee Agricultural Department recently put out a call for licensing, signaling that hemp farming will start soon there, too. A law by Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina in 2014 authorizes the same. Another passed this year in North Dakota is awaiting a signature from Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Hemp farming bills have also passed the New Hampshire House, the Washington State Senate, and committees in Connecticut and Missouri. Legislation has been introduced and will be up for consideration soon in Texas, Florida, Maine and elsewhere.


Former National Security Agency chief technical director William Binney called the agency’s practice of “parallel construction” the “most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.” This is the process whereby federal spying data is being handed off to local police for use in everyday law enforcement work, not just for investigating “terrorists.”

In 2014, Utah and New Hampshire passed bills to ban each state from participating in this practice. And this year, bills in Texas, Alaska, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina and elsewhere have been introduced to ban all “material support or resources” to all federal bulk warrantless spying programs.

Passage would ban participation in parallel construction, but also take things further and withhold other resources like water, electricity or even trash pickup from state or local governments or agencies to any federal agency involved in the wholesale surveillance of anything and everything you do with your phone or Internet service.

Legislation to help block a recently revealed nationwide license plate tracking program has already passed the Virginia Legislature and the Montana House. Similar legislation is up for consideration in New York, Missouri, Vermont, Massachusetts and Oregon.


While the legal world awaits an opinion this summer from the Supreme Court in the King v. Burwell case, some states are considering bills that will help bring down the federal takeover no matter what the court opines.

Bills passed in the Arizona House and introduced in Texas would ban a crucial enforcement mechanism for the federal act, and set the stage for pulling the rug out from under it and bringing it down.

What’s next

Sometimes, however rare, a federal court will stop a federal agency from unilaterally giving itself more power. Sometimes, a federal agency will back down on a newly proposed rule, like the recent M855 ammo ban from the ATF, because of heavy public pressure. And even more rarely, although I can’t remember anything of note, Congress will actually repeal a law it passed, giving up its own power.

The truth of the matter is this: Federal courts cannot be trusted to limit federal power, and federal politicians cannot be trusted to limit their own power. Only the states and the people can do it now.

While these moves by states give liberty-lovers hope, there is no silver bullet to stop the runaway freight train that is the federal government. But instead of waiting years for a lawsuit, or a convention, or any other national-level process, these state nullification efforts chip away at the monster government right now — one state at a time.

What this gets down to is the power of the people. When enough people tell the Feds to pound sand, and enough states pass laws backing them up, there’s not much the Feds can do to force their unconstitutional laws, rules, regulations or mandates down our throats.

–Michael Boldin

A 10-step program for constitutional recovery

By now, you’ve likely read plenty about how the Constitution has been twisted to give the federal government power far beyond anything the Founders ever planned. You already know the dangers of an unchecked president, of a Congress that passes bills without reading them, of agencies that do what they want and of judges who believe in precedent over original meaning.

So I won’t waste your time sharing more of the same.

Is the situation hopeless?

Absolutely not.

But in order to actually turn things around, a few sacred cows need to be dealt with. Here are 10 steps you should take right now to set the stage for a dramatic constitutional recovery.

  1. Recognize that massive change will come only through a revolution in thought. John Adams forcefully asserted that the American Revolution was not, in fact, the war for independence. The “real American Revolution,” Adams wrote, was a “radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people.”
  2. Take an honest and fearless inventory of the current situation. It’s not just Obamacare that violates the Constitution. It’s almost everything these people do, from telling you what size toilet you can have, to what kind of light bulb you can buy or what kind of plant you can grow and consume in your own backyard. It’s their Federal Reserve, their wars, their executive orders, their regulations, their “national security” and everything in between. Entire agencies — ATF, DEA, TSA and many others — shouldn’t even exist, much less do what they do. Even programs you like, or feel entitled to because they’ve forced you to pay for them for years, are constitutional violations.
  3. Understand that the federal courts are part of the federal government. If a company were suing you, would you hire one of that company’s lawyers to represent you? If you and I had a dispute, would you want my girlfriend Sarah to decide who’s right and who’s wrong? No, federal judges absolutely cannot be impartial when it comes to federal power. Think “rubber stamp.”
  4. Accept that our problems started well before the president took office. Massive violations of the Constitution have been happening under every president in modern times. Replacing one president with another has happened every four to eight years for a long enough time to know that the next president is going to be really bad, too. Guaranteed. And if that guarantee fails, the one after will be awful. Putting your constitutional eggs into one person’s basket ensures only that the Constitution will end up totally smashed.
  5. View both major political parties as an enemy of liberty. No one in his right mind would see Lucky Luciano as a savior to the evils of Al Capone, or vice versa. Maybe you could convince one of your friends to do all the dirty work needed to rise up the ladder of the organization, so one day they would be in a place to reduce the harm it does to you personally. Maybe, but very unlikely. And even if you could, at the end of the day, a mob boss would still run the organization and would have you killed if needed.
  6. Humbly admit that you’ve never cast a vote for federal office that has reduced the power of the federal government. When you “vote the bums out,” you just get new bums. No further explanation necessary.
  7. Admit that the feds will never stop the feds. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both recognized that if the federal government ever became the sole and exclusive arbiter of the extent of its own power, that power would always grow, regardless of protests, lawsuits or elections. They were right.
  8. Be ready for the long haul. Liberty is not a spectator sport. It takes action, sustained and persistent. It’s time we all get out of our comfort zone, even if that means we risk something. It’s for the future, and it’s worth it. We all need to be ready to do far more than what we are doing today. That includes committing to doing so incessantly until the job is done.
  9. One step at a time. Without being fully on board with these first nine steps, the 10th will almost certainly end in failure. You might find yourself distracted by the same old tricks they’ve played on all of us for decades (think Bush versus Clinton).
  10. Be entirely ready to take a new approach to stopping the federal government. You are facing a federal government that lies to you, spies on you and claims the power to lock you up “indefinitely” (that means forever) without any due process. They rip you off at every turn and give your money to the politically connected. They make up the rules as they go, and change them on a whim. They have absolutely no respect for the constitution or your liberty.

They mean business. And that means you need to mean business, too.

These people get away with this stuff only as long as you to use their approved methods to stop them from oppressing you.

Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution,” told us just what to do. There isn’t a person alive today who knows more about the Constitution than he did, so his advice needs to be followed. Now.

When enough people put Madison’s advice into practice, there’s not much that the federal government can do to force their unconstitutional acts, regulations and mandates down our throats.

Are you in?

–Michael Boldin

James Madison: How to stop the federal government

Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights: Dec. 15, 1791. And while Tenth Amendment Center believes it’s important to study and learn about the history and other trivia that will be shared in the media, we believe it’s even more important to learn and share what needs to be done to stop the endless violation of virtually every part of the Constitution.

In response to federal overreach, most people tend to focus on three types of actions to stop them: elections, conventions and lawsuits. While they all have their place in an overall strategy to defend the Constitution, none of them should be the first step forward. That is, if you follow the advice of the “Father of the Constitution.”

Here’s what James Madison had to say in “Federalist No. 46” (The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared):

Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.

Let me translate. Madison said that when the federal government passes an unconstitutional measure, there are powerful methods to oppose it among the people and in the states. He also pointed out that those methods were available even for warrantable — that is, constitutional — measures.

Madison told us of four things that should be done to resist federal powers, whether merely unpopular or unconstitutional.

  1. Disquietude of the people: Madison expected the people would throw a fit when the feds usurped power — even using the word “repugnance” to describe their displeasure. That leads to the next step.
  2. Repugnance and Refusal to cooperate with the officers of the Union: Noncompliance. The No. 1 dictionary of the time defined repugnance as “disobedient; not obsequious” (compliant). If you want to stop the federal government, you have to disobey it. Madison also suggested that people would perhaps directly refuse to cooperate with federal agents. This is an approach we preach here every day at the Tenth Amendment Center. Madison apparently knew what we know today. The feds rely on cooperation from state and local governments, as well as individuals. When enough people refuse to comply, the Feds simply can’t enforce their so-called laws.
  3. The frowns of the executive magistracy of the state: Here Madison envisions governors formally protesting federal actions. This not only raises public awareness; executive leadership will also lead to the next step: legislative action.
  4. Legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions: Madison keeps this open-ended. And in the years soon after, which I’ll cover shortly, we learn how both he and Thomas Jefferson applied this step.

Madison also told us that if several adjoining states would do the same, it would be an effective tool to stop federal acts. To repeat, he said that doing this “would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”

Former judge Andrew Napolitano agreed recently and said that people need to stop enforcing unconstitutional federal laws. He also said that if you could get an entire state doing this, it would make federal laws “nearly impossible to enforce.”

What’s important to note here are some glaring omissions. The powerful means that Madison told us would be used to oppose federal power successfully did not include federal lawsuits in federal courts. He also did not include “voting the bums out” as a strategy, either.

First response

Compare that with how people generally respond to what they consider unconstitutional or unpopular federal acts today.

The first thing I tend to hear from people who are opposed to a federal act is the “vote the bums out” mantra. We’ll fire Congress, right?

Or some people tell us we have to sue and let the courts decide.

I’ve got some news for you. There’s nothing from the founders — anywhere — in which they tell us that our first response to extreme, repeated violations of the constitution and liberty is to vote the bums out or to sue the feds in federal court. Nothing.

Legislative devices

Jefferson followed up on this in 1798 with the same kind of advice. That year, the Adams administration passed a wildly unconstitutional attack on the freedom of speech with the Alien and Sedition Acts. In response, while sitting as vice president, Jefferson secretly drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and here’s a little of what he wrote:

The several states composing the United States of America are not united on a principle of unlimited submission to their general government.

… where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy

… that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them

Madison was consistent in his views on this. In 1798, he also drafted and help pass something known as the Virginia Resolutions, a state-level “legislative device” in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Here’s a key part:

… 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.

Like Madison advised in Federalist No. 46, both he and Jefferson advised a state-level response to dangerous federal acts. In 1798, neither of them even mentioned voting or lawsuits.

Jefferson told us that a “nullification is the rightful remedy.” And Madison told us that states are “duty-bound to interpose.”

When Daniel Webster called on these same principles in response to military conscription plans during the War of 1812, he said:

The operation of measures thus unconstitutional and illegal ought to be prevented by a resort to other measures which are both constitutional and legal. It will be the solemn duty of the State governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State governments exist; and their highest obligations bind them to the preservation of their own rights and the liberties of their people…

Here’s the bottom line. You are not supposed to wait two or four years for some new politicians to get in office and give your permission to be free. You are not supposed to wait two or four or six years for some federal court to tell you, “OK, you be free now.”

You are supposed to stand up, resist, refuse to comply and nullify unconstitutional federal acts — as soon as they happen.

All the money and time you throw at firing Congress or winning in federal court will never, ever work — unless you start resisting right here in your state. And that resistance needs to be your first response, not your last.

–Michael Boldin

State Of The Nullification Movement

Here’s something that shouldn’t be news to you: Congress is actually much worse than a lost cause. But while things may appear bleak for the Constitution and liberty, there is a State-level line of resistance building that provides hope for the future and a blueprint for success.

Even though the establishment media never report on it this way, the modern nullification movement has grown into a political force — one that is revolutionary. It is comprised of various State-level actions that bring about what one can define as nullification today: “Any act or set of acts which has as its result a particular law being rendered legally null and void, or unenforceable in practice.”

Of course, when referring to this movement as a revolution, or revolutionary, this doesn’t mean one characterized by a physical upheaval against the established order. Instead, it is a deeper, more philosophical revolution developing — a revolution in thought.

As John Adams once put it, this is how he viewed the American Revolution as well:

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

The motives behind the various actors in the modern nullification movement vary as much as any group of people when it comes to their political goals. Some issues draw people from the right, others from the left. Political philosopher Murray Rothbard considered this “dynamism” one of the “major characteristics” of a revolution, as it creates an “unfreezing of the political and social order” for people, whatever their motivations may be.

Today’s nullification movement offers hope of smashing the established political order — one of “voting the bums out” only to see new “bums” violate the Constitution in more costly and dangerous ways each year, or relying on Federal courts to limit Federal power, or simply begging Federal officials to give us back our freedom.

This past legislative session saw some type of nullification bill introduced in nearly every State, addressing issues from National Security Agency spying to preserving the 2nd Amendment. To highlight just how far the movement has come, the Tenth Amendment Center’s 30-page report is the first-ever comprehensive look into the State of the nullification movement.

The following covers some of the highlights.

NSA Spying

Next week in Missouri, the people will have the opportunity to support the #YesOn9 campaign and vote to approve Amendment 9. This small, but important, change to the State constitution would give “electronic data and communications” the same State constitutional protections as “persons, houses, papers and effects.” This would eliminate any constitutional ambiguity surrounding electronic data and specifically bar State agencies from accessing it without a warrant in most cases.

In New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan signed a bill this month that bans State and local law enforcement from searching an electronic device without a warrant and also prohibits a small, but important, category of what the NSA has been doing with the warrantless data it collects.

In California, a bill that would create a mechanism to turn off material support and resources (like water and electricity) to Federal agencies engaged in unConstitutional warrantless surveillance programs is just steps from the Governor’s desk.

As bills are filed for the 2015 session, similar legislation is expected in States like Utah, Texas and Washington.

2nd Amendment

Also next week in Missouri, voters have an opportunity to approve Amendment 5, a State constitutional amendment that would “obligate” the State to defend the right to keep and bear arms against all infringements — not some; all.

In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter signed a bill that would effectively nullify future Federal gun laws by prohibiting State enforcement of any future Federal act relating to personal firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition.

S1332 passed unanimously in both houses.

Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America, cheered the governor’s action. “By signing this nullification bill into law, Idaho has joined an elite class of states that are telling the feds to ‘get lost’ — especially when it comes to unconstitutional gun control infringements.”

And in a sign that these efforts are seen as a threat to the gun control lobby, the Brady Center filed suit to block implementation of a 2013 gun control nullification law in Kansas.

The fact is if they weren’t concerned about the results, they wouldn’t spend their time or resources to try stopping them. This should be seen as a big green light to push harder than ever to protect the 2nd Amendment through State level resistance to Federal gun control measures.


New York just became the 23rd State in the country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. By authorizing what the Federal government unConstitutionally attempts to prohibit, these States are creating a practical and effective nullification of Federal acts.

This fall, voters in Alaska and Oregon have the opportunity to approve full legalization measures similar to what are already active in Colorado and Washington State. These act as an even broader and stronger nullification of Federal prohibition.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley both signed new laws that authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within their States, effectively nullifying the unConstitutional Federal ban on the same.

While supporters of Federal power like to claim that this is happening only because the current Administration is simply turning a blind eye to the issue, this couldn’t be further from the truth. No one in modern history has tried harder, spent more, or attempted more raids to stop State marijuana markets than the Barack Obama Administration.

The fact is the Feds are just flat out losing to the States.

Other Issues

The nullification movement is not limited to spying, guns and weed. Across the country, more people are learning that the way to accomplish one’s political goals is to stop wasting time on Federal politicians and instead focus their time, energy and resources more locally.

In Missouri, a bill to withdraw from Common Core was signed into law this month. In Arizona, voters have an opportunity to approve a Right to Try measure that would effectively nullify some Food and Drug Administration restrictions. Oklahoma became the second State (following Utah) to take the first step toward following the tender requirements of the Constitution and nullifying the Federal Reserve’s near-monopoly on money. In Georgia, a new law went into effect this month that blocks implementation of some important parts of the Affordable Care Act.

The Message

While voting the bums out of Congress rarely happens and the Federal government grows in size and power every single year, people still pour billions of dollars into campaigns that aren’t giving results.

In a business scenario, anyone spending that kind of money and losing repeatedly would be fired quickly. The smart and successful business manager doesn’t put all his eggs in one basket. But at the same time, he quickly recognizes where concrete results are actually happening.

So if you are also feeling that there’s little to no hope in Congress, the State of the Nullification Movement Report shows that positive things are happening even in what might feel like the worst of times.

The message should loud and clear.

When enough people say “No!” to the Federal government and when enough States pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the politicians in Washington, D.C., can do to force their so-called “laws” or mandates down our throats.

Feds Cannot Require A State To Carry Out Federal Acts

With a number of States now considering bills to thwart the implementation of Obamacare or legislation to turn off resources like water and power to National Security Agency facilities around the country, a number of political commentators are weighing in.

For example, Gail Kerr over at The Tennessean wrote about State Senator Mae Beavers’ bill to block Obamacare: “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is constitutional. State laws cannot trump federal laws.”

Jacob Gershman at the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog suggested the same before having to retract shortly after.

The knee-jerk reaction of many “experts” is to claim that “Federal laws trump State laws when they conflict” whenever they write about a bill designed to take action against a Federal act.

Many of them don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

The Legislation

The bills in question are not coming into “conflict” with Federal laws at all; they seek to direct State agents and employees to stop participating in the enforcement of various Federal acts.

In Washington State, for example, House Bill 2272 would ban all public employees from participating in any actions that aid the NSA in its mass surveillance programs. While this would immediately ban the use of warrantless data in court proceedings in the States, it has even more significant impact in a State like Washington, because there is a physical NSA facility there that relies on third parties, such as State agencies, to provide electricity or water to stay operational.

A similar bill has been introduced in Tennessee, where the NSA’s encryption-breaking facility at Oak Ridge resides. And another is expected to be introduced soon in Utah, where the new NSA data center requires as much as 1.7 million gallons of water every day to cool the supercomputers. That water is being supplied by the state of Utah.

In a rallying cry that sounds surprisingly simple, supporters know that no water equals no NSA data center.

Back in Tennessee, Senate Bill 1888 states, in part, “No state entity shall establish or administer, or assist in establishing or administering, any specific regulatory scheme to operate the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or any subsequent federal amendment to such act, in this state.”

Similar bills have been introduced in Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Analyzing such state bills, FOX News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano considered them an effective strategy against the Affordable Care Act. “If enough states do this, it will gut Obamacare because the federal government doesn’t have the resources… to go into each of the states if they start refusing,” he said.

In Florida yesterday, a bill was introduced in the State House to ban the entire State from enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of Federal gun control measures — all of them — past, present or future.

Napolitano last year urged States to do just this, suggesting that the Federal government simply does not have the manpower to carry out these measures. Such a bill in a single State, he said, would make “federal gun laws nearly impossible to enforce.”

The Legal Doctrine

Is this legal?

In short, absolutely. The State laws do not come into conflict with Federal laws in any legal sense.

All of these proposals are based on the widely accepted legal principle known as the “anti-commandeering doctrine.”

This means the Federal government cannot require a State to carry out Federal acts. The Federal government can pass a law and try to enforce it, but your State isn’t required to help them.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed anti-commandeering, relevant court cases being:

  • 1842 Prigg: The court held that States weren’t required to enforce Federal slavery laws.
  • 1992 New York: The court held that Congress couldn’t require States to enact specified waste disposal regulations.
  • 1997 Printz: The court held that “the Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.”
  • 2012 Sebelius: The court held that the Federal government could not require the States to expand Medicaid, even under the threat of losing Federal funding.

Constitutional scholar Randy Barnett told National Journal recently: “State governments are free to refrain from cooperating with federal authorities if they so choose. In general, states cannot attack federal operations, but that’s not the same as refusing to help.”

These noncompliance bills do not run afoul of the Supremacy Clause, even if one were to claim that all Federal laws are supreme, instead of just those made “in pursuance” of the delegated powers in the Constitution.

Claiming they do is like claiming people who are boycotting a business are actually setting fire to it instead of just choosing not to shop there.

It’s just as absurd.  Saying no to participation is far different than a physical standoff, both legally and practically.

Can It Work?

Simply put, the Federal government cannot force State or local governments to do the bidding of the Federal government. Such a tactic is an extremely effective way to stop a Federal government busting at the seams.

Even the National Governors Association admitted the same recently when it sent out a press release noting that “States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs.”

That means States can create impediments to enforcing and implementing “most federal programs.”

James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” advised this very tactic. Madison supplied the blueprint for resisting Federal power in Federalist No. 46. He outlined several steps that States can take to effectively stop “an unwarrantable measure” or “even a warrantable measure” of the Federal government. Anticipating the anti-commandeering doctrine, Madison called for “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a method of resistance.

This same process was used effectively by Northern Abolitionists in resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. And in Colorado, the whole world is able to see firsthand just how effective the States can be when they refuse to go along with Federal “laws.”

We should follow their courageous path against every other unConstitutional Federal act as well.

Moving forward, burning up the phone lines to your State House and asking legislators to introduce bills to refuse to participate in Federal acts like Obamacare, the NSA or gun control, can turn the tide toward liberty.

Many, if not most, Federal programs rely heavily on this kind of cooperation. Therefore, enacting anti-commandeering laws on various issues around the country can have the effect of a practical nullification — rendering Federal acts “nearly impossible to enforce.”

–Michael Boldin

Dianne Feinstein And The NSA Versus James Madison

A few weeks ago, Dianne Feinstein claimed that mass spying by the National Security Agency is “lawful, effective and Constitutional.”


I won’t waste my time refuting that nonsense. But I will give you some tools to resist these criminals, without relying on people like Dianne Feinstein to do the right thing — which, by the way, is unlikely to happen.


More on that and some action items you can take today in a bit.

But first, a little more from Feinstein.

Up Is Down

Calling billions of 4th Amendment violations “Constitutional” wasn’t enough for Feinstein. She then  introduced a new NSA “reform bill” that does absolutely nothing to stop the NSA.

A few days later, she took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal for some nasty fearmongering. She wants you to believe that either the NSA must be allowed to continue the spying, or you could get hurt in a terrorist attack.

Her message was basically this: We spy, or you die.

George Orwell knew what this was all about when he wrote: “Politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”

The Truth — From James Madison

The truth, though, is that you don’t have to keep taking it from people like Feinstein. And you don’t have to sit around waiting for her or her friends to stop the NSA.

James Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution,” had some advice for what to do; and it doesn’t include relying on the Federal government to stop the Federal government.

In Federalist No. 46, he gave us a four-step plan to successfully resist — in our States — Federal actions we consider either unConstitutional or “unpopular.”

  1. Disquietude of the people: Madison expected the people would throw a fit when the feds usurped power — even using the word “repugnance” to describe their displeasure.
  2. Refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union: Noncompliance. The Feds rely on cooperation from State and local governments. When enough people refuse to comply, they simply can’t enforce their so-called laws, regulations or mandates.
  3. The frowns of the executive magistracy of the State: Here, Madison envisioned governors formally protesting Federal actions. This raises public awareness, and executive leadership will move things to the next step.
  4. Legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions: An example of this is the use of State and local legislation — laws and resolutions — either protesting or resisting the Federal acts.


This is effective stuff.

Madison said that if a number of States followed this path, it would “present obstructions which the Federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed recently. He said if an entire State refused to comply with a Federal law, this would make it “nearly impossible to enforce.”

Putting It In Practice Against NSA

Using this advice, the Tenth Amendment Center has put together a multi-phase plan to resist the NSA.

Phase 1 starts with passage of the 4th Amendment Protection Act in your State.

This is a “legislative device” that requires a “refusal to cooperate” with Federal spying programs in your State.

No matter what they tell you, the NSA absolutely does rely on help in virtually every State.

Here are just a few prominent examples, all of which would be banned with the passage of the 4th Amendment Protection Act in your State.

Providing vital resources: The NSA is resource-hungry. Back in 2006, they maxed out the Baltimore-area power grid. They were concerned that additional power needs could “cripple” their “mission.” The hunt for new data centers was on.

The one in Utah, for example, requires 1.7 million gallons of water every single day to operate. That water is being supplied by a political subdivision of the State of Utah.

Utah should turn the water off.

No water equals no NSA data center.

(See our ads on this here.)

In Texas, the new data center being built in San Antonio gets all its electricity from a State-owned power company.

They should turn it off and make the NSA fend for itself.

There are NSA locations in Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia, too.

Universities as research centers: There are currently 166 colleges around the country that the NSA has partnered with as “Centers of Academic Excellence.”

These are major research centers, advancing NSA spying capabilities. And they act as fertile recruiting grounds for future NSA “analysts.”

Many of these universities are State-run, and future partnership would be banned with passage of the 4th Amendment Protection Act.

It’s bad enough they’re spying on all of us, but recruiting our kids to do it? Shameless.

Big Brother in your local police: The NSA’s culture of suspicion is trickling down to local law enforcement. Information collected without a warrant is shared locally through two channels (that we’re already aware of). They share through the Special Operations Division (SOD) and fusion centers.

On top of it, local law enforcement is encouraged to share Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) upstream with NSA and other Federal agencies. (Learn more about SAR here.)

It’s a very symbiotic relationship.

In short, your local police is being co-opted by Big Brother.

Turn It Off!

Every single State needs to turn it off.

Whether it’s resources like water, electricity or sewage treatment, or research partnerships and information “sharing,” there’s nothing in the Constitution, or any case law, that requires your State to help the Feds violate your rights.

Even the Supreme Court has repeatedly agreed with this “anti-commandeering doctrine.” Relevant court cases are 1842 Prigg, 1992 New York, 1997 Printz and 2012 Sebelius.

Working together, we will send a message to people like Feinstein and her creepy friends at the NSA.

“You don’t get to scare us into giving up the 4th Amendment.”

And how do we do that?

Deliver the message with resistance. They’ll hear us loud and clear.

It’s not going to be easy. And it’s not something that can be done with one bill, one lawsuit or one anything for that matter.

But if we want to live free, we have to take it, as Thomas Jefferson so wisely said: “A free people claim their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate”

Refuse to comply, and nullify.

Action items:

  • Learn more about the 4th Amendment Protection Act here.
  • Contact your State Representative and Senator by phone. Strongly, but respectfully, encourage them to introduce the act in your State. Contact info here.
  • Contact them again every two weeks until you get an answer. Report back whatever you learn here.
  • Contact your local politicians — county and city or town — and ask them to introduce a resolution in support of this action here.
  • Join the coalition to stop NSA spying here.
  • Sign the petition to turn the water off in Utah here.
  • Get updates on the effort nationally and in your State.

–Michael Boldin

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

The President And The Power To Declare War

“The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: If the President takes us to [war] without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment… The Constitution is clear. And so am I.” — Joe Biden, 2007

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the Nation.” — Senator Barack Obama, 2007

It’s pretty rare, but I find myself agreeing with not one, but two modern politicians on war powers. While Obama and Biden have quickly flip-flopped now that violating these principles has become their own strategy, they were correct when expressing them in response to President George W. Bush’s unConstitutional foreign policy.

Indeed, the Constitution is quite clear on war power. Congress has the power to determine if the country will wage offensive war and against whom. Once that decision is made by Congress, the President is in charge of waging that war.

The power in question is delegated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution:

[Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

The Founders

As I wrote in an early-2007 article, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, on the other hand, refers to the President as the “commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States.” What the Founders meant by this clause was that once war was declared, it would then be the responsibility of the President, as the commander in chief, to direct the war.

Alexander Hamilton supported this when he said that the President, while lacking the power to declare war, would have “the direction of war when authorized.” Thus, under the Constitution, the President, acting without a Congressional declaration of war, is authorized only to repel invasion and sudden attacks.

Pre-emptive strikes and undeclared offensive military expeditions are not powers delegated to the executive branch in the Constitution, and are, therefore, unlawful. Thomas Jefferson stated this quite eloquently when, in 1801, he said that, as President, he was “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.”

As an aside, it’s also important to note that no Federal branch has the Constitutional authority to transfer powers to another branch that were delegated to it. There’s nothing in the text of the Constitution or the views of the Founders that would support this absurd notion. The Founders created a system of government where certain levels of government were responsible for certain powers, and not the others. A primary reason for this was a distrust of executive power.

War was something that was a big part of the Founders’ distrust of power. James Madison warned us that the power of declaring war must be kept away from the executive branch when he wrote to  Jefferson:

The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.

There simply is no debate. Congress, not the President, decides if the country will go to war.

Twisted Definitions

As they did with the U.S. war against Libya, those violating these strict Constitutional limitations will likely refer to an attack on Syria as something other than “war.” But changing the words they use to describe their actions doesn’t change the Constitutional ramifications.

Under the Constitution, a war is a war whether you call it a war or something else.

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson wrote about the legal meaning of the word “war” in March 2011:

Founding-Era dictionaries and other sources, both legal and lay, tell us that when the Constitution was approved, “war” consisted of any hostilities initiated by a sovereign over opposition. A very typical dictionary definition was, “the exercise of violence under sovereign command against such as oppose.” (Barlow, 1772-73). I have found no suggestion in any contemporaneous source that operations of the kind the U.S. is conducting were anything but “war.”

The Founders’ favorite authority on international law, Vattel, divided wars into three principal categories: defensive wars, offensive just wars, and offensive unjust wars. A nation fought a defensive war when it responded to an invasion. It fought a just offensive war when it responded to an infringement of its rights short of invasion. It fought an unjust offensive war if it attacked another country even though that other country had not infringed its rights. Examples of unjust offensive wars were those fought for conquest or to limit an innocent neighbor’s power.

A defensive war did not require a declaration.  A just offensive war did require one, although it might be called something other than “declaration of war.”  The declaration triggered certain consequences under international law, but Vattel says its principal purpose was to give the other country a last chance to correct the injury it was inflicting.  Because unjust wars were those launched by a country that had not suffered legal injury, it follows that “declarations of war” issued by an aggressor were at least partially defective.

Natelson also suggested that, even if declared, the government has “no constitutional power to wage an unjust war.”

The last time Congress Constitutionally declared war was on Dec. 11, 1941 — against Germany in response to its formal declaration of war against the United States. This resolution was quickly accomplished with a statement that was less than one page in length, yet it still clearly delineated who the enemy was and what was to be done. Three days earlier, and one day after being attacked at Pearl Harbor, Congress declared war on Japan with a similar clarity. Both actions resulted in a clear-cut military victory.

The short version? Unless fending off a physical invasion or attack, the President is required to get a Congressional declaration of war before engaging in military hostilities in another country.

Since it’s unlikely that the executive branch will limit its own power and there’s very little evidence that Congress will use the power of the purse to do so either, it’s going to be up to the people of the States to make that happen — whether the Feds want us to or not.

‘Voting The Bums Out’ A Failed Strategy

I’ve got some news for you.

There is absolutely nothing from the Founding Fathers — and I mean nothing — in which they said your No. 1 course of action in response to massive, repeated Constitutional violations should be to “vote the bums out.”

They never said that. Nowhere. Ever.

For some reason, though, opponents of endless Federal power seem to pull the “vote the bums out” card first. And a vast majority of them seem to have just that one card — and no others.

Wherever I speak around the country, voting the bums out is the first thing people tell me needs to be done to fix problems created by the Federal government. People everywhere back this up with their money. The 2012 elections saw about $6 billion spent.

Six billion dollars. Anyone who complains about how Congress spends money should be appalled at this utter waste of resources.

When Congress spends hundreds of dollars on a toilet seat, at least they get something to sit on.

When you spend your hard-earned money on Federal candidates who are going to reduce the size and scope of the Federal government, you get nothing. Zilch.

“Government today is bigger and more unConstitutional than it was before the last election.”

If you could travel through time, you could make that statement in any of the past 100 years and you’d almost never be wrong.

“Voting the bums out” has proven to be a complete and utter failure as a strategy.

Neighborhood Dining

Some people will tell you that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

While I doubt that people spending their hard-earned money on this proven failure are insane, there’s certainly something to be said here.

Let’s say you have a new restaurant open in your neighborhood. You give it a try; they treat you rudely and don’t even give you what you ordered. They serve you something completely different and refuse to fix it. After talking with your neighbors, you learn that every one of them had the same experience there.

You probably wouldn’t give them your money again, would you?

Well, maybe the owners want to give it another try. They hire a new manager, walk around the neighborhood, door-to-door, apologizing for the horrible treatment and making great promises about service, better prices and higher quality.

OK, you think, time to give these people another chance; they’re human, after all.

The second time you go there, it’s worse.

Again, they bring you food you never ordered and refuse to correct the mistake. They spill food on your clothes and then force you to pay them to clean it. And after you leave, they double-charge your credit card, too.

I can guarantee that even if you got to the second try, there would never be a third.

Congressional Appetite

But for some odd reason, even though each and every one of us deals with this kind of treatment (well, much worse, actually) from the Federal government, there’s more than a second try or even a third. Way more.

After watching government grow every year for our entire life, millions of us pour our hearts, souls and money into the next person who promises to fix things.

These bums, and the new bums who replace them once in a while, have an insatiable appetite for money and power. They often sound like underdogs, make wonderful promises about all the good they’ll do, and they never have enough of your money.

Occasionally, you get someone who’s the real deal. He is an honest person. He will work hard to do the right thing. And he will do everything he can to move the Federal government closer to the Constitution.

Even when a few good people get elected, they fail.

Here’s the hard truth. It doesn’t matter what political party is in power in Washington, D.C., or what person is in charge in the White House; Federal power always grows and your liberty is always less. This is how things have gone for at least 100 years.

The Recipe

Even though government schools will never teach you how to limit government power, the Founders did, in fact, offer solutions.

No, there’s no silver bullet. No one’s riding in on a white horse to save you in the way people view Presidential candidates. And, no, those unaccountable, politically connected lawyers who make up the Supreme Court aren’t going to fix things either. They work for the organization that’s violating your rights more than any in the world: the Federal government. They’re part of the problem, too.

James Madison, generally regarded as the “father of the Constitution,” was pretty direct about what should be done. He wrote the following in Federalist No. 46:

Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.

James Madison said that when the Federal government passes an unConstitutional measure — or even if it passes something that’s totally Constitutional, but still unpopular — there are ways to successfully resist it.

Notice that Madison didn’t mention a single thing about elections or voting bums out.


He did, however, point to methods which are “powerful and at hand.” Two prominent examples that you should be doing today:

“Refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”

Use “legislative devices” to create “very serious impediments.”

Madison also told us that if several adjoining States would do the same, it would make things extremely difficult for the Feds to deal with.

Judge Andrew Napolitano has said virtually the same recently, that a State refusing to comply would make Federal laws “nearly impossible to enforce.”

I happen to agree.

What Now?

We’ve all got extremely limited time, resources and money. It’s important to try to have the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to the Constitution and your liberty.

Let’s say, for example, you have one hour a week to dedicate to an effort and $100 a year to donate.

If you’re knocking on doors trying to help someone win a congressional primary race, or if you’ve donated your $100 to a 2016 Presidential candidate, you’ve already lost.

Instead, you could dedicate one hour per week to following Madison’s advice. You could work to advance legislation in your State, county, city or town that would, by law, require a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” on a specific issue, as Madison advised.

Stop pouring your time and money into the siren song of Federal election campaigns. Voting the bums out is a failed strategy.

If your goal is the Constitution, it’s high time that you started following Madison’s advice on how to get there.

Your country needs you. Your community needs you. Your family needs you. Liberty needs you. The time to act is now.

–Michael Boldin

The Only Way To Protect Your 2nd Amendment Rights: Nullification

I know we’re all very upset about what’s happening in Washington. For many people, last week’s Senate vote was extremely upsetting. Sadly, though, we need to accept facts. The Federal government is filled with sociopathic criminals.

But we can beat them. And we will.

Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we’re in the process of putting together a long-range strategy that helps people understand what needs to be done to advance liberty and the Constitution. So, as many of our nullification bills are moving forward, we’re becoming quite good at getting things done. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, here are some things that you can do today for liberty.

First, start here.

The only way you’ll ever protect your right to keep and bear arms is by nullification on a State and/or local level. No matter how awful your State is, you have multiple times greater chance of getting something accomplished closer to home on a State level — or even city council level — than you’ll ever have calling the likes of Senators Harry Reid or Pat Toomey to do the right thing.

Nullify. Nullify. And nullify.

I include this very specific nullification legislation on the right to keep and bear arms because of what’s happening in Washington right now. But if a different issue is what’s important to you, the message is still the same.

Start here, and nullify.

Truths And Advice

You may not find hard truths easy to hear or read. But since I’m not trying to win elections or friends, I’m going to share some anyway. My only goal here is to advance the cause of liberty and the Constitution. This needs to be said.

Washington is a lost cause. If you’ve been spending your days calling politicians in Washington to support or oppose something, you’ve wasted your time. If you want to advance liberty, forget Washington. That is a pit of criminals; and you will never, ever accomplish your goals. Don’t call anyone there. Don’t send any letters to your Representatives or Senators. Don’t support their campaigns or donate your money. Forget that the 202 area code even exists.

Recognize that the s&!t has hit the fan. Things are bad, really bad. And they will likely keep getting worse. That will never stop until you follow point No. 1.

There’s no quick fix. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is going to turn this mess around in short order. Whether it’s guns, hemp, healthcare, farming, money and everything in between, the people in this country… well, we’ve all let it happen for far too long. We’ve cared about the drama of national elections or which political team was winning in Congress far more than we’ve cared about our liberty and the Constitution. So we’ve got a long haul back. But we have to start working on nullification, and nothing else, right now — not tomorrow, now.

Think nationally, nullify locally. Centralized power is the cause of our situation. Every time you spend an ounce of energy on their game, they gain more power. Again, this goes back to point No. 1. Stay away from Washington. Don’t call, don’t visit and don’t ever count on them to fix the problems they’ve created. A one-size-fits all solution — centralized — is the game of our enemies. We win from the ground up, not the top down.

Let Me Say This Clearly

In Kansas, a bill that would nullify a huge number of Federal gun control measures is sitting on Governor Sam Brownback’s desk with a veto-proof majority. In Missouri this week, the State House will be considering an even stronger version of that bill.

In Maine and Washington State, bills to nullify unConstitutional bans on industrial hemp are moving forward. And South Carolina’s nullify Obamacare bill just got voted out of committee and is going to the State House floor very soon.

Even in California, a State Assembly committee this week passed a bill to nullify National Defense Authorization Act indefinite detention — unanimously.

This is the foundation. It will grow, if you commit to it. The response on both the State and the local level will get stronger and stronger if you put your time, energy and financial resources behind it. If you forego the soap opera that is the sickos in Washington, all our nullification efforts will get stronger — and in greater numbers.

Joe Biden wants to scare us all, telling us that this is just the beginning on gun control.

Well, I’ve got a message too. Hey, Joe, let me say this as clearly as I can. This is just the beginning. Whatever you’ve got, we’re going to nullify it.


–Michael Boldin

Standing Up To UnConstitutional Acts: It’s Happening Now

Imagine this nightmare scenario.

In the not-too-distant future, Congress passes a draconian, UK-style ban on all weapons. Or, maybe the Senate does it through an international treaty. Or, instead of Congress, maybe the President follows in the footsteps of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who whipped up an executive order requiring people to turn in their gold.

The method wouldn’t really matter. The end result would easily be one of the greatest attacks on liberty in American history.

States Nullify Federal Gun Ban

Now imagine a response to such unConstitutional Federal acts in this nightmare scenario. Your State legislator proposes a bill for your State that reads something like this:

A. This legislature declares that all Federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms and ammunition are a violation of the 2nd Amendment

B. This legislature declares that all such acts are hereby declared to be invalid in this State, shall not be recognized by this State, are specifically rejected by this State, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this State.

C. It shall be the duty of the legislature of this State to adopt and enact any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of any Federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations in violation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.


In response, you’d certainly hear things like this:

  • A State can’t nullify a Federal act!
  • The Constitution says that all Federal laws are supreme.
  • Even James Madison opposed nullification.

Each of these objections, and others, could easily take a full article — or two — to dismantle. So, I’ll be brief before moving on the main goal here.

Article VI of the Constitution says that Federal laws are only “supreme” when made “in pursuance of” the Constitution, not any old law as the lovers of power would like you to believe.

As far as the Supreme Court goes? Let me say this clearly, those nine justices aren’t infallible gods. And they certainly aren’t the final arbiter of what the Constitution means.

The bottom line is straightforward, and my main point, too — the Constitution means what the Founders and Ratifiers told us it means, no matter what the Congress, the President or the Supreme Court happen to say or do.


When FDR ordered you to turn in your gold, it was unConstitutional the moment he signed it.

When Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban, that was unConstitutional as well.

George Bush violated the Constitution the moment he signed the USA PATRIOT Act and expanded Federal control over healthcare with Medicare Part D.

Barack Obama violated the Constitution with an undeclared war on Libya, the Affordable Care Act, NDAA “indefinite detention,” and more.

The sad fact is this, every Congress and every President has violated the Constitution. As the years go by, those violations get worse and more frequent.

What To Do?

Back to our nightmare scenario. Your State legislator gets massive support for the bill nullifying Federal gun laws. It passes by a wide margin and is signed into law. It creates a ripple effect. Soon, another State follows, passing a similar law. And then another. In no time, the number reaches as high as 14.

In those States, gun shops stay open, people continue to keep and bear arms. A vast majority of them do so without any trouble.

Federal officials make threats. The DOJ issues a warning: States “cannot nullify an act of congress.” The Department of Homeland Security threatens to shut down air travel in States that refuse to comply. The President says he could designate gun shop and firearms owners as agents providing material support for terrorism and subject them to indefinite detention under the NDAA.

Mostly just tough talk.

Sadly, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducts some high-profile raids. They shut down a small number of businesses; some people lose their liberty. But the Feds lack the manpower to handle it all.

So, when one city alone reaches a point where more than 1,000 shops are conducting business, selling guns in open defiance to the Federal ban, people start to realize that mass resistance leads to the desired end result: a nullification of the unConstitutional Federal act.

Happening Today

While that particular nightmare scenario isn’t just happening yet, we’ve certainly been in a nightmare scenario in this country for a long, long time.

We have a Federal government that hates the Constitution. It hates your liberty and no matter what political party is in power, or what person occupies the White House, their power always grows and your liberty is always less.

We have a government that claims the power to tell you what size toilet you can have, and what kind of light bulb you can buy. It claims the power to throw you in jail for growing a plant in your backyard and it will tax you for — doing nothing. On top of it all, they claim the power to arrest and detain you — forever. That’s kidnapping.

But, that hypothetical response – legislation to ban and nullify Federal gun laws — it’s not hypothetical at all. Currently, there are more than 15 States considering legislation to nullify Federal attacks on the right to keep and bear arms.

Take this excerpt from Missouri’s HB436, for example:

All federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.

Or this, from Utah’s HB114:

An official, agent, or employee of the federal government may not enforce or attempt to enforce any act, law, order, rule, or regulation of the federal government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition owned or manufactured commercially or privately in this state while it remains exclusively within this state. Violation of this Subsection (2) is a third degree felony.

Or, on another issue, there’s HB2161 in Kansas, which would charge Federal agents who attempt “indefinite detention” with kidnapping. This could mean 20 years in prison and $300,000 fines.

Names, Names!

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson called this “Nullification,” and James Madison called it “Interposition.” Madison supported these views in his “Report of 1800.” Later, he flip-flopped.  For a while, he was even saying that Jefferson never used the word nullification. But, when a copy of the original Kentucky Resolutions in Jefferson’s own handwriting turned up, complete with the word “nullification,”Madison was forced to retreat.

And, even when Madison changed his mind on nullification in response to South Carolina’s version of it in the 1830s, he didn’t reject the notion of nullification as our story’s heroic State legislator has carried it out. In fact, Madison advised it.

He told us that when attempts to stop “usurpations of power” failed through the courts, the elective process, and even amending the Constitution, it would be a natural right for a single State to “rally to its reserved rights…and to decide between acquiescence & resistance.”

Today, people are using these principles right now on a wide range of issues, and their successes are growing by the year.

Call It What You Will

The fact is this: the Federal government doesn’t have the manpower to stop us. When enough people stand up and say NO to the Federal government – and enough States and local communities pass laws backing them up — there’s not much that the Federal government can do to force their unConstitutional laws, regulations… or mandates… down our throats.

Me? I call that kind of resistance “nullification.” But, I don’t care if you do too. You can call it defiance, civil disobedience or anything else you want. You can call the State acts Personal Liberty Laws or 2nd Amendment Preservation Acts. Refer to them as a reserved right, like Madison did, or nullification like Jefferson did.

It doesn’t really matter what words you use. What matters is what you do. Like Sam Adams leading the charge to nullify the Stamp Act, or States that pushed back against unConstitutional slave-catching laws, what matters most is what we do with our short time on earth.

For me, I’ll stand with liberty. I hope you’ll join me.

A Tenther’s Guide To The Election

ten·ther ˈten-thər  noun

1. A person who supports the Constitution: every issue, every time, no exceptions and no excuses.

2. Those who actively use the principles of decentralization to advance the cause of liberty.

see alsoTenther Movement

Ron Paul is out. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are not going to win. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney represent the classic “lesser of two evils” situation. Rocky Anderson and Virgil Goode are barely a blip on the radar.

Look, I’ve heard all the arguments in this Presidential election. A vote for anyone but Romney is a vote for Obama. A win for Romney means the right will go back to sleep like they were under George W. Bush. The lesser of two evils is still evil. And more.

Like every other Presidential election, people everywhere are shouting from the rooftops: “This is the most important vote of your lifetime!” But all these arguments are missing the point entirely.

The 2012 Presidential election is not a make-or-break election. America, as the Founders envisioned, has already been broken for a long, long time.


That’s no understatement, either. Pick a clause of the Constitution, and it has likely been violated to the point of nonexistence. Read through the Bill of Rights and you’ll see how few of those essential liberties are truly in place today.

We live under a Federal dictatorship of sorts. Sure, you get to choose your oppressors every few years, but those people still claim the power to do plenty. They tell you what kind of light bulbs you can own and how big your toilet can be. They will arrest you for growing a plant in your backyard and fine you for not purchasing an insurance product. They relentlessly spy on you, monitor phone calls and read emails.

They drop bombs wherever they want around the world; Constitutional requirements for Congressional declarations of war are now considered an anachronism. If they don’t like your opposition to what they do, they’ll use a drone to watch your every move, then kidnap you and keep you in a secret military prison. They call that one “indefinite detention.”

We now have free-speech zones; business and environmental regulations that should be the purview of the States or the people; corporate bailouts; and endless excuses for the lies, rules and failures. It’s never-ending. And, all the while, officials keep debasing the currency in the hopes that their house of cards continues to stand.

Ole King George would have salivated at this kind of power. But, today, some people seem to think that simply casting a vote every few years is all they need to do to advance the cause of the Constitution and your liberty.

They’re wrong.

Top Five

So what’s a good Tenther to do on Nov. 6?

Like my friend Steve Palmer wrote in a recent article, the No. 1 most important thing is not what happens on Nov. 6. What really matters is:

… what we do on 364 other days of the year. If we go back to sleep because we’re happy that the winner is wearing a red jersey or a blue one, we’re doomed to be exploited. If we stay vigilant and ensure that the use of force by government is limited to its Constitutionally legitimate role, then society will bring the blessings of prosperity to all of us.”

I’m not trying to talk you out of voting for one of the Presidential candidates — or even into voting for a different one. More than 90 percent of potential voters are already dead set on who they’re going to vote for — or against, most likely.

My goal here is to encourage you to do more. Since you’re already set on who you’ll be voting against, spending time reading, watching or complaining about any of the candidates is nothing more than a daily soap opera. You can certainly spend your time far more wisely — and help us all in support of the Constitution.

Here’s my list of the top-five things a good Tenther can do this election season.

5. Vote For Good State And Local Candidates

It seems like everyone forgets about the little guys. But these are the people who can change the world. Like the Constitutional structure that the Founders gave us, a revolution in thought and action isn’t a top-down proposal. It’s bottom up.

So check out your State and local campaigns and vote for people that support the Constitution and your liberty. There are some great ones out there, surprisingly enough. Here are a few examples:

Aaron Libby is running for re-election in the Maine State house. He’ll be introducing one of the strongest Obamacare nullification bills in the country.

John Logan Jones is also in Maine — and a strong challenger, too. He was well-positioned to run for Congress, but recognized the absolute need for State governments to take “an activist role in reasserting powers” stolen by the Feds.

My friend Anthony Rice is running for city council in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. And Mark Hopp is running for county commissioner in Alamance County, N.C. These are the kind of guys who will have absolutely no qualms pushing legislation to nullify the National Defense Authorization Act (like 16 communities around the country have already done) and just about anything else on a local level.

David Simpson is running for re-election to the Texas State house. He’s been leading the charge to nullify unConstitutional searches and seizures by the Transportation Security Administration.

Bernie DeCastro is running for sheriff in Marion County, Fla. And Ray Seidel is running for sheriff in Lincoln County, N.M. Both of these guys have been endorsed by Sheriff Richard Mack; and, if they win, they could establish some of the freest counties in the country.

Matt Shea is running for re-election to the Washington State house. He’s a relentless supporter of the Constitution and has worked on legislation to nullify NDAA and Obamacare and worked in support of sound money and more.

4.  Educate

Read. Learn. Share. As more people learn about Constitutional principles, the more good people will take action locally, where real change can be affected.

“Nullification: The Rightful Remedy” is a power-packed DVD that can introduce people to these issues in less than 90 minutes.

Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty is the essential guide to the Tenther movement. It’s the owner’s manual.

Liberty Classroom’s State Nullification: What is it? is a fantastic, free resource.

3.  Lobby Your State And Local Representatives

Hammer away at your local politicians. They usually get ignored; so when they start getting just a few calls to support a particular issue, they’ll start paying attention. Call the ones you know are your opposition, too. Sometimes, politicians are so slimy that they have absolutely zero principles. (OK, sometimes is too modest.) Those people will change with the wind. If you press them, you can make things happen.

The Tenth Amendment Center has model legislation ready for introduction in your area regarding the NDAA, Obamacare, drones, Constitutional tender, the TSA and more.

2.  Vote To Nullify 

There are ballot initiatives in play around the country. You can vote to ban Federal or State insurance mandates in Montana. You can drive a truck through the unConstitutional drug war in Colorado, Oregon and Washington State. You can stand up for healthcare freedom in Florida, Alabama and more.

Check those referendums and vote “yes” on anything that defies Washington, D.C. Every crack in the armor will make us stronger.

1.  Organize

The most important thing you can do right now is organize. This really encompasses all the previous four, and will make every future effort even stronger. Educate people in your community. Build strong support networks for local candidates and referendum campaigns. Get teams of people together to lobby those already in office. And build strong campaigns and coalitions to nullify unConstitutional Federal acts.

You can use the Tenth Amendment Center’s Nullify Obamacare Organizer’s toolkit (pdf) to help you along. It’s a free, 17-page document filled with ideas and methods that work. And, no, you don’t have to focus only on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; you can use these time-tested strategies on whatever issue is most important to you. You might even want to head up your own nullification campaign.


Bottom line? The time to act is now. Not next year or next fall. Not next month or next week. Today, not tomorrow. Right now.

If all you’re doing is voting, you’re not doing enough. Please start doing more. There. I said it.

While I know that statement will likely irritate some people, I firmly believe it to be the truth. And on truth, Thomas Jefferson couldn’t have been more right:

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

–Michael Boldin


Top 5 Ways To Fail At Eliminating Obamacare

Even though millions of people want to keep President Barack Obama’s Health Care “Reform” law, millions more want it gone.

With the June Supreme Court ruling allowing the mandate to continue — and most everything else too — people are trying to focus on just that and asking themselves, “What should I do to spend my time and resources most effectively?”

More than 50 percent of the country wants to see it repealed. Political candidates are basing their electoral success on their position on the law. Groups are holding educational rallies about what to do next.

Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we’ve offered our own advice on what to do next. But we haven’t really addressed some of the other actions people are being encouraged to take. I figured this was a good time to put together a Top-5 list. But this is not a list of the best things you can do. Instead, these are the things I think you should avoid supporting most.

Why? First of all, because they will fail or cause more problems down the road. And also, since virtually everyone — especially in difficult economic times — has limited time, energy, money and other resources, it’s even more important to spend those resources wisely and effectively.

With that, here’s my Top 5: How to Fail at Getting Rid of Obamacare.

5. Wait for it to collapse under its own weight.

Some people are under the belief that the amount that Obamacare will cost will result in a failure of the program, or some even believe it could collapse the entire economic system. So instead of taking an active role in pushing to end it, they’re spending their own time doing personal preparation. Some sit, wait and do nothing. Others buy storable food, ammo and other things that would be needed under such economic chaos.

I believe the maxim that “things that can’t go on forever, don’t.” But there are loads of things which can’t go on forever — that seemingly do. For decades people have said that American foreign policy can’t continue on this path. It does. We’ve heard that the Fed can’t keep printing and printing… and printing. But it still does. Or that the next violation of individual liberty is going to wake enough people up to bring things to an end. But yet, Constitutional violations continue unabated.

Yes, Obamacare is certainly an economic monstrosity. But waiting for it to fail under its own weight won’t help, even when taking responsible steps for your own emergency preparation. And guess what. Tomorrow never comes.

4. Eliminate it by executive order.

While pure Presidential power isn’t an extremely common talking point for ridding us of Obamacare, I consider it pretty important to discuss. The use of executive orders has ballooned in recent years for virtually everything.

Both Obama and his predecessor Bush have made a mockery of Constitutional restraint with their use of executive orders. And of course, both sides of the political aisle make excuses for their President when he’s been in office. All of this is part of our never-ending path towards an executive dictatorship.

Last fall, Rick Perry made a statement that if he were elected President, on day one he would issue an executive order to eliminate “as much of Obamacare as he could.”

Look, there are many ways that executive action could, theoretically, put enough roadblocks in the way to bring the Affordable Care Act to an end. But, to any Constitution-loving person, the idea of a President “eliminating” law by executive order should be considered extremely dangerous.

Here’s the big problem. If we accept the idea of one person deciding whether or not a law will stay or go, what’s to stop the next President from reversing those decisions. This would be a temporary band-aid at best.

We need far fewer executive orders. Not more.

3. Go back to the Supreme Court.

Some people — primarily legal scholars and so-called experts — believe that a proper next step is to go back to court. Yeah, right. They’ll get to write more articles about it, get more attention on the legal discussion and advance the importance of their profession.

But that’s about it. The fact remains. In more than 200 years, the Constitution-violating men and women in black dresses have overruled fewer than 200 Congressional acts. I don’t know probability stats, but I’m thinking I have a better chance of getting hit by lightning twice in one day than of seeing the Supremes strike down this Federal act.

2. Vote the bums out.

Blowhards like Bill O’Reilly tell us that if “Obama goes down, so does the liberal movement in America.”

This one could easily have made No. 1 because it’s so idiotic and ignorant. Not only would the current alternative give you much of Obamacare under a different name, but there’s virtually no reason to trust Republicans in general when it comes to eliminating the so-called “liberal movement” in this country. They have been part of it for a long time.

Republicans gave us the biggest expansion of government-run healthcare in three decades when they passed Medicare Part D under President George W. Bush. They played a significant role in the new record number of people on food stamps. And twice this year, they voted to keep the program that gave us Solyndra.

But it’s not just Republicans who play this game. Democrats are equally guilty. The election of the “peace President” brought us new wars, an expansion of the USA Patriot Act, “indefinite detention” and much more.

The bottom line? Hoping that new bums will kindly reject all the power given to them is not just a bad idea. It almost never happens.

John Adams agreed on this when he said, simply: “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

1. Repeal and replace.

I think the phrase says it all. It should say — repeal and repeal. Even though I know that Federal politicians never follow the rules given to them unless it’s politically advantageous, I happen to like the Constitutional limitations they have.

Even if Obamacare were repealed and replaced with nothing, there would still be a lot more that needs to be repealed to get even close to the Constitution.

The Federal government should not be managing the healthcare industry. Period. It doesn’t matter if that management is done by someone named Obama, Romney, Bush or Clinton.

I don’t want a new name for Obamacare. I don’t even want a lesser-Obamacare. I want the Feds to butt the hell out and follow the Constitution.

Moving Forward

You may not want to take the Tenth Amendment Center’s recommended approach to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, but that’s OK. If you stay away from these five options, you’ll have a far better chance of avoiding a complete and utter failure.

If you really want to see Obamacare gone for good — and not just a few pieces of it — smash the etch-a-sketch approach. Stop wasting your time, energy and financial resources on steps that will either continue the act under a new name, be sure to fail, or continue the expansion of Federal power.

Michael Boldin, Tenth Amendment Center

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Judges!

We don’t need permission from the courts to exercise our rights. We need to learn how to exercise our rights whether the government or the courts want us to do so.
Thomas Jefferson had some advice for us. In 1798, in response to a Federal law criminalizing free speech, he wrote:

Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government… whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers… nullification of the act is the rightful remedy…

With his advice, our message today to the Supreme Court is pretty straightforward: You may have your opinion, now come and enforce it!

What Do We Do About It?

Now that the black dresses have ruled against our Constitution again, what do we do about it?

Do we march on Washington, D.C., and demand that Federal politicians limit their own power?

Do we try to file another lawsuit in the hopes that Federal judges will limit Federal power?

Do we vote the bums out in the hopes that the new bums will say, “Oh, wow! Yeah. You can have all that power back!” For your information, that never happens.

Jefferson and James Madison both warned us that if the Federal government ever became the sole and exclusive arbiter of the extent of its own powers, that power would endlessly grow — regardless of elections, separation of powers, courts or other vaunted parts of our system.

They were right. For 100 years, we the people have been suing, marching, lobbying and voting the bums out. But year in and year out, government continues to grow and liberty continues to diminish. It doesn’t matter who is the President or what political party controls Congress; the growth of power in the Federal government never stops.

The Solution

Again, the question remains: What do we do about it? Jefferson told us that “nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”

Madison went a similar direction and said that the States “are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil…”

What does that mean?

Well, we’re not supposed to wait for the Federal government to correct itself. We’re not supposed to wait two or four or six years for some new bums to fix things for us. We’re not supposed to wait years for the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court to give us permission to be free. We’re supposed to exercise our rights whether the government wants us to our not.

So what is nullification?

Nullification begins with a decision made by you that a particular law is unConstitutional. Then, in most situations, your State Legislature would be pressured into resisting that particular law. This step usually involves a bill, which is passed by both State houses and is signed by your Governor. In some cases, it might be approved by the voters of your State directly, in a referendum. It may change your State’s statutory law or it might even amend your State Constitution. It is a refusal on the part of your State government to cooperate with, or enforce any Federal law it deems to be unConstitutional.

At its very core, nullification is any action or set of actions which results in a Federal law being rendered null and void or just plain unenforceable.

Some Important History

In 1850, when President Millard Fillmore signed the second Fugitive Slave Act, due process was under serious attack by the Federal government.

The law compelled people of all States to “assist” Federal marshals and their deputies with the apprehension of suspected runaway slaves. It brought all trials involving alleged fugitive slaves under Federal jurisdiction. It included large fines for anyone who aided a slave in his escape, even by simply giving him food or shelter.

The act also suspended habeas corpus and the right to a trial by jury for alleged “slaves” and made their testimony inadmissible in court. The written testimony of the supposed slave master, which could be presented to the court by slave hunters, was given preferential treatment.

State Resistance

In response, Northern States intensified efforts to pass what were known as “personal liberty laws.”

In Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, State officials were forbidden from assisting the Feds in enforcing the law and refused the use of State jails for fugitive slaves.

Vermont passed a “Habeas Corpus Law,” requiring State judicial and law enforcement officials to actually help captured fugitive slaves there.

Massachusetts took a really strong stand and actually passed a law that gave kidnapping charges to anyone trying to use these “indefinite detention” provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.

In that State, though, not a single Federal agent was ever charged with kidnapping.

Was this because the law was passed by a bunch of politicians grandstanding? Did they have no intention of backing up their words with actions?

No. Not a single Federal agent was arrested because, after the law passed, not a single person was kidnapped in Massachusetts and sent to slavery in the South.

Maybe the Feds were scared; maybe they weren’t. Either way, the law was extremely effective.

In fact, Northern States were so successful overall that, when South Carolina seceded 10 years later, the people there named the Northern resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act as one of their primary reasons for leaving the Union. From the publicly released “Declaration of Causes” was this:

The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.

What’s the bottom line? State and local non-compliance and resistance to unjust laws is not just a good idea. It works.

Examples Today

A little over a week ago, Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire signed a bill making law there that the State will refuse to participate in setting of health exchanges.

Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin recently announced that his State would do the same. And other Governors are following their lead.

In November, Ohio passed Issue 3, which states: “No federal, state, or local law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.”

Ohio is the 10th State to do this.

In Arizona and other States the past two years, bills have been considered to fully nullify the Affordable Care Act.

Two Paths Ahead

We have two broad paths. We can do what we’ve been doing: voting bums out, hoping for repeal, filing another lawsuit or trying to get the entire country to agree on an amendment. Or we can take Jefferson’s and Madison’s approach and nullify.

So how does this play out?

That brings me to the story of Roscoe Filburn.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 required American farmers to restrict production of wheat in order to raise prices.

As a farmer, Filburn was permitted to plant 11.1 acres of wheat, yielding 20.1 bushels per acre. He decided that it was in his best interest — possibly because he had less revenue due to the production limitations — to plant another 10 or so acres. But the excess wheat grown was used at home to feed his livestock, among other things. He never sold it, so he saw this as being outside the scope of Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.

What did the Federal government do? It levied a fine against Filburn.

Filburn sued, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. In Wickard v. Filburn, the Court ruled against him, saying the government could regulate as “interstate commerce” a plant grown in one’s backyard and consumed in one’s own home.

In response, people talked about voting the bums out, changing the makeup of the Court, repealing the law, etc. But none of that worked, because the principle still remained that growing food in your backyard and consuming it in your home was “interstate commerce.”

If we fast-forward to present times, we can see a similar situation.

Angel Raich

In the 1990s, the people of California voted to legalize consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Angel Raich — who had a huge, cancerous tumor in her brain — was told by her doctor that using marijuana to relieve some of the pain was acceptable.

Marijuana, though, is illegal on a Federal level in all circumstances, so the Feds decided to make an example. Federal agents destroyed Raich’s homegrown marijuana plants without much resistance.

Like Filburn before her, Raich sued. Gonzales v. Raich went all the way to the Supreme Court; Raich lost. The 2005 ruling made clear that the Federal government did not recognize State laws authorizing the use of marijuana in any situation.

In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas gave a stark warning:

If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress’ Article I powers–as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause–have no meaningful limits.

What The…

So what happened? Did the weed activists take the same route as those who supported Filburn decades earlier? No. They basically said, “Thanks for your opinion, now come and try to enforce it!”

At the time the Raich ruling came down, 10 States had marijuana laws. How many repealed after that decision? Zero. Today, another seven are on board, defying the Federal government and increasingly getting away with it.

What’s the lesson here?

When enough people say “no” to the Federal government, including the Supreme Court, and enough States pass laws backing them up, it becomes nearly impossible for them to force their unConstitutional laws, regulations and mandates down our throats.

–Michael Boldin

Stopping NDAA

In 1850, when President Millard Fillmore signed the second Fugitive Slave Act, due process was under serious attack by the Federal government.

The law compelled people of all States to “assist” Federal marshals and their deputies with the apprehension of suspected runaway slaves. It brought all trials involving alleged fugitive slaves under Federal jurisdiction. It included large fines for anyone who aided a slave in his escape, even by simply giving him food or shelter.

On top of it, bounties were paid to commissioners in fugitive slave cases: $10 if a person was sent back to slavery and $5 if the person was allowed freedom. The Federal government was paying people to capture other people and send them to slavery.

The act also suspended habeas corpus and the right to a trial by jury for alleged “slaves,” and made their testimony inadmissible in court. On the other hand, the written testimony of the supposed slave master, which could be presented to the court by slave hunters, was given preferential treatment.

State Resistance

In response to the original Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, Northern States began to pass what were known as “personal-liberty laws.” After the second Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by Fillmore, these efforts intensified.

Vermont passed a Habeas Corpus Law, requiring State judicial and law enforcement officials to actually help capture fugitive slaves there. Massachusetts took a really strong stand and passed a law that allowed kidnapping charges for anyone trying to use these “indefinite detention” provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.

No Federal agent was charged with kidnapping in Massachusetts, though. But that was only because no escapee was ever captured for return after the law was passed. The State response was working.

In fact, Northern States were so successful overall that when South Carolina seceded 10 years later, the people there named the attempts to bypass the Fugitive Slave Acts as one of their primary reasons for leaving the Union. Their publicly released “Declaration of Causes” states:

The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Fugitive Slave Acts or render useless any attempt to execute them…

NDAA: The Road Backward

In 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order that authorized the creation of military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.”

This led to the roundup of about 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living here in California and along the West Coast. Without due process, they were relocated and sent to internment camps. Many more were classified as “enemy aliens” and subjected to increased restrictions.

Like the Fugitive Slave Acts and Japanese mass internment, the Federal government has again taken new powers never intended under the Constitution. Under sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the Feds again claim the power to classify people in such a way that they no longer have rights.

President Barack Obama and Congress have dropped the terms “fugitive slave” and “enemy alien.” Instead, they use “suspected terrorist” as a way to eliminate due process these days.

Resistance Today

Today, in the spirit of the 19th century Personal-Liberty Laws, States and communities around the country are taking action against NDAA detention powers. Virginia recently became the first State in the country to pass a law refusing compliance with or assistance to Federal agents carrying out detentions without due process against citizens of that State. A number of other States are working on the same.

But, it’s not just States. More than 10 communities are on board too. For example, in Fairfax, Calif., officials passed legislation that states the town will:

Instruct all our Town of Fairfax agencies to decline requests by federal agencies acting under detention powers granted by the NDAA that could infringe upon residents’ freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, or rights to counsel.

Just The Beginning

When Northern States protected habeas corpus against Federal encroachments in the 19th century, they were doing their duty to protect liberty and the Constitution. Today, States and communities are doing the same.

They can and should serve as a powerful check on Federal power. In fact, the framers counted on it. It’s all about local actions. As Democrats and Republicans continue to work together in Washington to take away our rights, our communities must and will rise up to save them.

–Michael Boldin

The Tenthers Are Coming!

When the Tenth Amendment Center co-hosted three events at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., this month, the No. 1 question we heard from people when talking among the crowds was: “The 10th Amendment. Hmmmm. Which one is that?”

Seriously? Yes. Over and over again, we heard the same question. At first, I thought they were joking. Consider all the Tenther hype from people like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and other mainstream conservatives. And at a recent Fox News/YouTube debate, the most requested question from conservatives around the country was about the 10th Amendment. Maybe they were testing us to see if we knew what we were talking about.

But, no, I was wrong. A large number of the people we interacted with at the biggest and most mainstream conservative event in the country had no clue what the 10th Amendment even is.

And they wonder how this country could end up with someone like Barack Obama? Yeah, well, that’s another column altogether.

After being asked that same question about the 10th a dozen or so times, I decided to give a much simpler reply. It went something like this: “The 10th Amendment is the one that says that Feds are allowed to do only certain stuff. That stuff is in the Constitution. Everything else is left to each of the States as we the people decide.”

That got some really positive responses. Good, because it’s true.

Practical Examples

After I got home to Los Angeles, I started to think about that question more and more. And, yes, while the basic principle I shared with people in Washington is true, I recognize that people want and need to see practical examples of how something like this is actually playing out.

Talking about how things “should be” is one thing. But sharing examples of how people are taking action on Constitutional issues right now is far more powerful.

When it comes to the Constitutional “rule of construction” known as the 10th Amendment and actions being taken around the country to reject Federal laws, regulations and mandates enacted outside the scope of their Constitutional limits, there are loads of examples to share.

In a quick one-on-one conversation, I’ll still continue to give my short-version answer about the 10th. But in a forum like this, there’s a great opportunity to share a bit more. Like this:

The 10th amendment is the one that says the Feds can do only the few things allowed to them in the Constitution. And that means people like you are empowered to do something about it when Federal politicians violate those rules. In fact, people around the country are doing something about issues all across the political spectrum right now. They’re standing up and saying something that you and I should be saying to Washington every single day: No.

That’s right. A law passed outside the limits of the Constitution is no law at all. It’s an act of usurpation. And when the Federal government passes “laws,” regulations and mandates that aren’t authorized by the Constitution, you are not bound to obey them.

Happening Right Now

Being early in the year, this is the time when State legislatures are working with people to find ways to say “no” to Washington. Here are some of what I consider to be the biggest and best examples happening around the country today.

1. Banning Health Insurance Mandates

Last fall, 66 percent of Ohio voters and a majority of every single political demographic, approved Issue 3: the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment. This State Constitutional Amendment says that “no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.”

Ohio is the 10th state to pass something along these lines, and six other States are considering similar measures already this year.

Keep track of all the activity on this front here.

2. Rejecting Indefinite Detention

Ten years ago, if you had called the Patriot Act “moderate,” I probably would have puked. But compared to what Obama signed into “law” on Dec. 31 (primarily sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act), that George W. Bush-era tragedy for American liberty is mild.

When due process is eliminated, these so-called “indefinite detentions” are little more than government-sanctioned kidnapping. I believe there should be serious ramifications for kidnapping, whether the kidnappers work for the government or not.

Tennessee is currently considering a bill that would do just that: sanction Federal agents with kidnapping charges in that State. Other States are taking the position that they will provide absolutely no material support in any way with the Federal government on this issue. The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill which would make law that no agent of the Commonwealth could participate in supporting the Feds in arrest without due process. The vote on that bill was a whopping 96-4.

So far, six States are considering similar bills — what we call the Liberty Preservation Act in our model legislation at the Tenth Amendment Center.

Harder to tame than a willful statehouse might be a cluster of counties, towns and cities, each one individually working to nullify these new kidnapping powers through local law. In just days, a number of localities began to consider similar legislation, and already seven have passed — most recently in Northampton, Mass.

Expect many more to join them soon. Follow the activity here.

3. Advancing Constitutional Money

With the economy coming apart at the seams, a growing number of people would like to see Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution followed. It states that “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”

It seems pretty straightforward, but it hasn’t been followed in ages.

Following Utah’s lead from last year, five other States are working on legislation to allow sound money to actually be used without sanction. And while this is really just scratching the surface, it’s moving faster than waiting for Washington to somehow give up its power to inflate and bail out their friends.

Stay informed of progress on Constitutional Tender Acts here.

There’s Plenty More

Rejecting mandates, restoring due process and supporting sound money are just three important issues that define what’s happening in the Tenther Movement today. But there’s so much more. States around the country are considering similar actions on issues like 4th Amendment violations by the Transportation Security Administration to 2nd Amendment violations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

From mandates to milk, from weed to wars without declaration and everything in between, very little of what the Federal government does today is authorized by the Constitution.

But even though the establishment politicians and establishment media will never tell you this, we don’t have to sit around and take it. When 25 States refused compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, that law remained on the books in Congress, was never challenged in Court, but was rendered virtually null, void and unenforceable in most of the country.

Saying “no” works.

When enough people stand up and say “no” to Washington and enough States follow their lead and pass laws backing them up, the Feds are going to have a hell of a time trying to force their unConstitutional “laws,” regulations and mandates down our throats.

Michael Boldin

Centralization Of Power Is Always Bad

Today is an important day in American history. On Dec. 15, 1791, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution (known as the Bill of Rights) came into effect through the process of ratification by the States.

Most people have their own view of what the purpose and effect of the Bill of Rights was supposed to be. Some think it authorizes Washington to enforce a nationwide free speech zone. Others think it requires the Feds to protect the right to keep and bear arms in every nook and cranny in the country.  And others think that there must be a nationwide separation of church and state in every State, county, city and town.

To those of you who believe that Federally run education in this country has destroyed public knowledge of the Founders’ Constitution, my next comment is no shocker: All of these people are wrong. According to the Founders, that is.

The Basics

First, we have to understand why we even have a Constitution and, thus, a Bill of Rights.

The entire founding generation toiled under the tyranny of the king of England, a king who had virtually no limits on his power. He could make rules as he went, change them on a whim and change them back. He could seize your property, your labor or your life — and you could do almost nothing about it.

Because of this, the Constitution was written to spell out the limited powers delegated to the Federal government. And it was clearly understood that this government had only the powers that were delegated to it in the Constitution.

The original Constitution contained no Bill of Rights. Many of the Framers felt it wasn’t necessary, since the Constitution clearly enumerated the few powers delegated to the Federal government. They thought any further restrictions would be redundant.

However, some of them thought there could be misunderstandings. So a Bill of Rights was proposed, and some States ratified the Constitution only on condition that those amendments would be added, which happened a few years later.

A Preamble?

Adding a preamble to a legal document was common practice at the time. It could identify the parties, list important facts and explain the purpose of the document.

Many people are unaware that, like the main body of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights had a preamble explaining its purpose.

What was the purpose? There’s no better way to answer that question than in the words of the Founders themselves in the preamble to the Bill of Rights:

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…

Rob Natelson, in his book The Original Constitution explains what this means:

Thus, some of the proposed amendments were “declaratory…clauses” (that is, rules of construction) designed to “prevent misconstruction” of the Constitution by explaining how the instrument should be interpreted. The rest were “restrictive clauses” to prevent “abuse” of federal powers by creating external limitations curtailing those powers. [emphasis added]

The important message here is that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to you, me or any other person. It applies to the Federal government.

Not The States? No Way!

Maybe it’s because most people weren’t taught that a Preamble to the Bill of Rights existed — or maybe because they confuse the word “Constitutional” with the word “good” — but it’s quite rare to find someone who doesn’t disagree with the preamble to the Bill of Rights.

Many opponents claim things like:

  • “The 1st Amendment is the only one that mentions just Congress, so the rest apply to everyone and not just Congress.”
  • “The States agreed to the Bill of Rights and, combined with the Supremacy clause, that means the States can’t violate those parts of the Constitution.”

While there are others, these are some of the most prominent reasons people give for essentially disagreeing with the Founders themselves on the Bill of Rights.

Each could use a full discussion on their own, but the important points are:

  1. The 1st Amendment was the only Amendment which specifically prohibited the making of a law. When the Founders wrote the word “law” in the 1st Amendment, they meant it. And Congress was the only branch of government that was supposed to make law. Today, we have an executive branch that makes law through executive order and a judicial branch that legislates from the bench. At the time of the founding, it would have been absurd to include either of those branches in an Amendment preventing the making of law. That’s a big part of why the 1st Amendment starts with “Congress shall make no law.”
  2. Claiming that because the States ratified the Bill of Rights, each clause applies to the States, too, is just bad logic. Think of it like this. You and 12 business partners own an apartment complex. You hire a person to manage the property and give him some rules about how you want your property run. He follows your rules pretty closely, but eventually he starts showing up at the homes of all 13 of you. He starts demanding that each of you follow the rules for the apartment building that you gave him — in your own homes!

Absurd? Absolutely. Rules created by employers for their employee don’t necessarily apply to the employers, too. In the case of the Bill of Rights, in the Preamble the employers (the States) told the employee (the Federal government) that it would have new rules that applied just to it.

And if that twisted logic weren’t enough, James Madison hammered it home in his famous speech introducing the Bill of Rights. In it, Madison proposed that the Bill of Rights have three distinct restrictions on the States.

He said: “No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.”

What happened? Congress considered Madison’s proposal to have some of these new restrictions apply to the States, but rejected it.

Federal Restrictions

What was the end result? The body of the Constitution primarily tells the Federal government what it is allowed to do. The Bill of Rights tells the Federal government what it is not allowed to do, such as the following non-exhaustive examples:

  1. Make no law abridging freedom of speech, press, religion or assembly.
  2. Do not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.
  3. Do not “quarter” soldiers in peacetime.
  4. Do not conduct unreasonable searches and seizures, and don’t issue warrants without probable cause.
  5. Do not force people to testify against themselves.
  6. Do not deny a speedy trial to a person accused of a crime.
  7. Do not deny trial by jury to an accused person.
  8. Do not impose excessive bail.
  9. Don’t assume that this is an exhaustive list of rights. Just because some are listed doesn’t mean the people don’t have others.
  10. Don’t exercise any power not delegated in this Constitution.

The Lesson

What’s the big message behind all this?

Centralization of power is always bad, even when it appears to have a good short-term result. Every time you approve of the Federal government taking on new power for things you approve of, you authorize your opponents to do the same for things you oppose.

That’s why every person who advocates using the Federal government to make abortion illegal nationwide also authorizes the other side to make abortion legal nationwide when it is in power. Get that, Rick Santorum?

And every person who advocates forcing every State to legalize marijuana also authorizes the opposition to ban it in the entire country when it is in power.

The same principle can be applied to just about every issue.


The system we have today puts almost all decisions about the fate of your liberty into the hands of nine unelected, unaccountable, politically connected lawyers. That’s not a good place for any society to be.

How do we fix this mess? The first step is to stop going to the Federal government to fix problems that are actually caused by the Federal government itself (most are!). Doing so is not just an absurd idea, it has led us to the place we are in today.

Moving forward to the principle behind the Bill of Rights (decentralization of power) will bring you a huge step closer to liberty. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Small Steps Toward Liberty

Concordia res parvae crescunt.

It’s a Latin phrase made popular during the Revolutionary Period that means “small things grow great by concord.” And in a time when politicians claim the power to control nearly every aspect of your life, it’s a phrase that not only packs wisdom, but gives insight on a possible road map to liberty.

A Quick History Lesson

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required the colonies to provide housing and provisions for British soldiers. Like unfunded mandates of today, the colonies had to pay for it all, too. But, when 1,500 British troops arrived at New York City in 1766, the New York Assembly refused to comply, effectively nullifying the act.

The Quartering Act was circumvented in all the colonies other than Pennsylvania. In royal circles, this was yet another sign that the colonies were getting a bit out of control.

In 1767, the British Parliament passed a series of five laws known as the Townshend Acts. Their primary purpose was to raise tax revenue and enforce compliance in the colonies. They included the Revenue Act of 1767, the Indemnity Act of 1767, the Commissioners of Customs Act of 1767, the Vice Admiralty Court Act of 1768 and the New York Restraining Act (a punishment for the very public rejection of the Quartering Act a year earlier).

The “punishment” given to New York? The Assembly had its legislative powers suspended, effectively leaving all decision-making outside the colony. In other words, they had to self-govern as they were told to, or not self-govern at all.

Sound familiar?

The colonies responded. And, although the Townshend Acts didn’t have the same, immediate uproar as the Stamp Act had just two years prior, they were hated and resistance soon became widespread. The most influential response to the acts came from John Dickinson, commonly known as the “Penman of the Revolution.” Opposing the new Acts, he wrote a series of twelve essays known as Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.

Advice, Wisdom

Dickinson’s warning? Don’t concede to new powers just because they appear to be small — or in the case of the Townshend Acts, because the taxes were low — since such concessions always set a dangerous precedent for new and greater powers in the future.

In the first of his essays, Dickinson addressed the New York Restraining Act. He wrote:

If the parliament may lawfully deprive New York of any of her rights, it may deprive any, or all the other colonies of their rights; and nothing can possibly so much encourage such attempts, as a mutual inattention to the interests of each other. To divide, and thus to destroy, is the first political maxim in attacking those, who are powerful by their union.

He continued on to say that, in essence, the rightful response at that moment would have been for other colonial assemblies to have at least passed nonbinding resolutions informing Parliament that the Act was a violation of rights and it should be repealed.

Why? His answer came through clearly at the end of this first essay, where he signed off with the Latin phrase “Concordia res parvae crescunt.”

Small things grow great by concord.

Assuming Total Power

In many ways, today’s Federal government has suspended the legislative power of State assemblies by assuming control over powers never delegated to it in the Constitution. For example, when the Administration of President Barack Obama threatened to close businesses in California because politicians and bureaucrats in Washington think that a particular plant should be illegal, it made its intentions clear. And when the Administration of President George W. Bush told the people of Montana — and elsewhere — that they wouldn’t be able to fly without a new national ID card, it also asserted the power to legislate for the people of that State.

The Federal government assumes unConstitutional new powers like this almost daily.

When Congressional declarations of war are deemed an “anachronism,” Congress simply abdicates its duty on the question of war and unConstitutionally transfers its power to the executive branch. And when such unConstitutional transfers of power seem unlikely, the executive branch simply redefines war into “kinetic something something” — and then initiates war on its own say-so anyway.

When homegrown wheat that’s never bought or sold and is consumed on one’s own property is outside the sphere of Federal control, the judicial branch simply redefines what the Founders considered “interstate commerce” and dictates that the Federal government controls virtually all commerce, and then even noneconomic activity.

Politicians in Congress and the executive branch — and the lobbyists who benefit financially from their unConstitutional acts — are all too happy to use this wealth of power.

For far too long, people have stood idly by, “voting the bums out” and hoping that a new crop of Federal politicians would ride in and save the day.

But, while new bums have come and gone (and come and gone), the day has yet to be saved.

Step By Step

Pushing off the yoke of an empire is not something that’s done in one fell swoop. This is something that the Penman of the Revolution recognized early on.

When I talk with people about resisting — and slowly but eventually nullifying — unConstitutional Federal acts, I rarely find opposition to the idea. Instead, I often hear things like “Yeah, but they have the guns!” Or, “I’m totally in favor of this, but it’ll never work, the Feds are too strong.” Or, “This will just crumble when DC takes away funding or jails opponents.”

Fear is something that obviously keeps traction through the ages, for Dickinson dealt with these same thoughts. He wrote in his third essay:

“Great Britain,” they say, “is too powerful to contend with; she is determined to oppress us; it is in vain to speak of right on one side, when there is power on the other; when we are strong enough to resist we shall attempt it; but now we are not strong enough, and therefore we had better be quiet; it signifies nothing to convince us that our rights are invaded when we cannot defend them; and if we should get into riots and tumults about the late act, it will only draw down heavier displeasure upon us.”

In the Revolutionary Period, like today, people were afraid of upsetting the status quo; and they urged others to sit idly by.

Dickinson’s response?

Are these men ignorant that usurpations, which might have been successfully opposed at first, acquire strength by continuance, and thus become irresistible?

The message? If we stand by and do nothing, we know what’s coming. Each small step toward liberty is an important one.

Today, dozens of States have considered — and many have passed — nonbinding resolutions reaffirming the Founders’ vision for the Federal government: that it should be one of limited, delegated powers. Fifteen States are actively defying both congress and the Supreme Court by allowing the use of marijuana. More than two dozen States have refused to comply with the Real ID act. Other States are taking steps to consider legislation that would nullify specific Federal acts like Obamacare, warrantless searches by the Transportation Security Administration, legal tender laws, the Food Safety and Modernization Act, and more.

While many of these acts might feel like small steps in the grand scheme of things — risking reprisals from the dangerous beast we call the Federal government — each thorn in the side of the empire is yet another essential step toward liberty.

For as a wise person once said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

NOTE: The preceding is based on Michael Boldin’s monologue at the close of Tenther Radio Episode 20.  Listen to the audio version here.

When Winning Is Really Losing

NOTE: The following is Michael Boldin’s “Tenther Rant” from episode 15 of Tenther Radio. Listen to the audio version at this link.

Recently, a long-time commenter on the website had this to say:

“Being a purist is generally another way of saying being a loser in a large Federation.”

This was in regards to the Presidential candidacy and foreign policy views of Ron Paul. The idea being that since Paul’s foreign policy ideas were, according to our commenter, far out of the current mainstream of Republican voters, that Paul needed to shift his positions to ensure the potential for being a winner.

When I respond here, I’m certainly not limiting my viewpoints to the candidacy of Ron Paul, to viewpoints on foreign policy, or anything else for that matter. Instead, I think this applies to everything politically.

Haven’t We Had Enough “Winners” In This Country?

For more than a century, we’ve had winners on the left, and winners on the right. And not a single one of them — not one — has followed the Constitution as they were supposed to, and as we at the Tenth Amendment Center demand — every issue, every time, no exceptions and no excuses.

The 10th Amendment was the exclamation point on the Constitution — reinforcing the fact that “We the People” of the several States created the Federal government. Not the other way around. And, we created that government to be our agent for certain, enumerated purposes… and nothing more.

James Madison — you might have heard his name associated with the moniker “Father of the Constitution” — put it this way:

“The powers delegated by the Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

Few and defined?

Well, depending on how you count it, there are approximately 30 powers that have been delegated to the Federal government in the Constitution, most of which reside in Article I, Section 8.

Thirty powers. That’s all.

But, if you were somehow able to read through all of the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, you would have to go through tens of thousands of pages of Federal laws and regulations. And it’s not like Presidents have been waging epic battles with Congress over the years, vetoing bill after bill and having those vetoes overridden. Instead, almost nothing gets vetoed. Even Ronald Reagan, the President that many Constitutionalists idolize as their champion, only vetoed 39 times in an eight-year period.

Five vetoes per year? Nah, no thanks. To me, that’s as good as zero.

At this point, what should a President do to stand up for the Constitution? If we want to err on the side of the Constitution, let’s keep it simple.

A Constitutional President should pretty much veto everything!

Take A Hike!

That’s what a Constitutional President would say to Congress on almost everything they pass.

And hopefully, this brings me back to my initial point — that it’s not OK to be a kinda-Constitutionalist. Or a mostly-Constitutionalist. Or what we almost always have, a partisan-Constitutionalist.

Whether they’re from the left or the right, conservative or liberal — or anywhere in between — all politicians claim to support and follow the Constitution. And every now and then, most of them say something right. But, it’s very little and there’s almost no consistency.

From both sides we’ve seen opposition to violations of your liberties on some issues, but not on others. We’ve seen opposition to some undeclared, unConstitutional wars, but not on others. We’ve seen support for limiting government actions in some areas, but not in others. And sadly, the support and opposition often changes based on which political party is holding power at a given time.

But that’s best left for another conversation.

The fact of the matter, though, is this — both sides have allowed, turned a blind eye to, and even actively promoted massive Constitutional violations for far too long.

Year in and year out, politicians tell us that there’s some kind of emergency, real or pretended, and they need to have new powers to prevent all kinds of horrors and death.

Corporate bailouts, Social Security, Environmental Regulations, the USA Patriot Act, the Department of Energy, Wars in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere, the Department of Education, massive military spending, the Department of Energy, foreign aid, the War on Drugs, FEMA, the FDA and too much more to list — have all been sold to us on fear. And all of them are unConstitutional.

When you allow politicians to bend the rules of the Constitution or break them outright — even if it’s for a good reason, or to hopefully stop some outcome YOU are afraid of — and you let them do it year in and year out for decades — sooner or later you’ll end up with politicians who feel that the rules, the Constitution that is, don’t apply at all.

And if we’re not already there today, we’re pretty damn close.

That’s why I vehemently reject our commenter’s opposition to being a purist. Oppose the ideas, maybe. Disagree with the principles, sure. But oppose a position because it might not be a winner? Never.

That’s why our motto here at the Tenth Amendment Center is so simple. The Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.

I’m hoping that you, like me, are sick and tired of people who advocate winning above all else. “Winning” is what’s gotten us where we are today, and “winning” has really been losing for all of us.

Like my parents used to tell my brother and me when we fought as children — “you’re both wrong” — it’s time for people who love liberty to do the same to Democrats and Republicans alike.

Both sides have been wrong for far too long. And every day we tolerate it for the sake of winning, we add one more link to the chains of our own shackles.

–Michael Boldin

Dear Federal Government: Go To Hell

NOTE: The following was based on a speech given at a freedom rally hosted by State sovereignty advocate and Washington State Representative Matt Shea on Aug. 30.

Almost everyone I know has written a letter to the Federal government. Many of them have contacted their Representatives or Senators at some point. They have emailed, faxed or even called — asking, demanding or just plain begging these politicians to do something or not.

I never have.

Why? Because I believe it is an absurd idea to ask the Federal government to fix problems it created, and that doing so just doesn’t work.

For example, those on the antiwar left got a “peace President” who has bombed Libya and massively expanded the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of those same progressives vehemently opposed the Patriot Act forced upon us by former President George W. Bush and the Republicans. With the Democrats in power, they got more of the same. Again.

For those on the right, the so-called conservative Bush and the Republicans in Congress gave us more Federal control over education with their No Child Left Behind Act. They also laid the groundwork for today’s national healthcare mandates with the largest expansion of Federal control over healthcare in decades: Medicare Part D.

And for everyone, we’ve got the Transportation Security Administration. Because no one, at least no one I know, likes the fact that this particular agency violates the 4th Amendment almost constantly.

So, because of things like these, I’ve always thought it was pointless to write the Feds telling them anything. Until now.

I recently wrote a draft letter to my so-called Representatives in Washington. Before sending it to them, I thought I’d share it with you here to see if you have suggestions or if it meets your approval as is.

Here’s what I came up with:

“Dear Federal government: Go to hell!”

Out Of The Mainstream? Not At All

Start talking 10th Amendment, state sovereignty or — heaven forbid — nullification, and you will immediately find yourself branded as an extremist, a nut job, a radical and out of the mainstream. There’s even a supposedly nasty term for those of us who would dare advance such nutty principles: “Tenther.”

Well, apparently, the American majority is just plain nutty.

A Rasmussen poll released last Friday tells us that “54 percent of Likely U.S. Voters believe that states should have the right to opt out of federal programs they don’t agree with.” In other words, more than half of Americans now embrace the Constitutional concept of State sovereignty.

More telling than this small majority in support of such crazy ideas is the much smaller minority of people opposed to them. Only 31 percent of those polled disagreed and said States should not enjoy the ability to opt out.

Think about that for a moment, because it is significant. Less than one-third of the country opposes our base principle that each State can and should have a unique approach to handling various political issues.

Federalism Rules!

The Founders told us that such a system was not only a good idea, but also in line with the Constitution. They knew that one-size-fits-all solutions would lead to pretty much what we have today: a crumbling economy, liberty eroded and continual violations of the rules given to government.

Today, people everywhere are beginning to recognize a simple truth: What’s right for California is likely not right for Washington State, and what’s right for Idaho is likely not right for Alabama, and so on.

In fact, such a decentralized system (the system the Founders gave us in the Constitution) is the only kind in which people in a huge country like ours — with widely varying political, economic and religious beliefs — can all live peacefully together under a large defense umbrella.

John Adams famously told us that the real American Revolution was not the war for independence. He said:

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

Happening Right Now

Even more exciting than this poll is the fact that States around the country are putting this idea into practice.

In 1996, when my home state of California decided to opt out of Federal drug laws by allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes, it was going it alone. But, soon other States recognized not only their own ability, but the possible benefit of opting out of this particular Federal program. Today, 15 States have done so, and they are increasingly getting away with it.

A few years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union championed State-level opposition to the REAL ID Act of 2005, which required States to follow Federal guidelines in issuing driver’s licenses. Since then, more than half the States have enacted legislation against participation, and all applied for or received extensions by the 2008 deadline.

Here we are six years later and it’s still not fully implemented, because States just won’t do it.

States opting out of Federal programs (at the Tenth Amendment Center, we refer to it as “nullification“) can be a pretty effective strategy. It’s far more effective than “voting the bums out” or writing a letter to Federal politicians, in my opinion.

States’ Rights: Not Just For Liberals

Better yet, this growing States’ rights movement is not just exclusive to progressives and the left. Conservatives have gotten on board with the idea in recent years; and they are becoming more effective with it, too.

A recent Washington Times article said: “All told, 17 states have enacted laws rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act, according to a report by the National Council of State Legislatures.” And, as tracked by the Tenth Amendment Center, more than 10 states have begun to consider the next step, rejecting (read: nullifying) the entire Affordable Care Act — every word of it.

Going Mainstream

Rasmussen reported: “Support for states’ rights jumps higher when the question involves federally mandated programs with no checks attached. Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters think states should have the right to opt out of such programs if the federal government doesn’t help pay for them. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and 16% are undecided.”

What does that mean? Only one in five people believe the States should have to blindly comply with Federal mandates, no matter what. This is certainly good news, and something to build upon. We Tenthers are winning the ideological battle amongst the people.

In the end, it seems to me that Thomas Jefferson’s ideas from the Principles of ’98 have gone mainstream, as they should. He was far more eloquent than I when he wrote, “…the several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government

But, the message remains the same.

“Dear Federal government: Go to hell!”

–Michael Boldin

NOTE: Michael Maharrey, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, contributed to this article.

They Don’t Want Us Doing This; We’re Doing It Anyway

In a recent interview with a reporter from the BBC, I was asked what I thought about proposed cuts to foreign aid spending. “More than 10 percent in cuts, that’s pretty steep, right?”

My answer: “Steep? [Chuckling.] It’s all perspective, I guess. My preference? I’d like to see that number changed. To 100 percent.”

The reporter was shocked to a point of near-disbelief. The responses given to me were the common ones. I must be OK with people starving in the streets, or people dying of AIDS, or any number of other horrors that would obviously happen if the Federal government were to follow the rules given to it: the Constitution.

In another interview with The Washington Times last week, I was asked: “With all the talk about the 10th Amendment from candidates, what are voters getting from this?”

My response: “They’re getting duped. For probably a century, it hasn’t mattered which political party has held power in Washington, Federal power always grows.” I heard a bit of a chuckle in response.

What’s the point of these two seemingly unrelated discussions?

Problems Don’t Fix Themselves

On the one hand, there’s a considerably large segment of the establishment that would reel in horror at the thought of individuals having, well, personal liberty and the Federal government being limited to those few powers that have been delegated to it in the Constitution. On the other hand, there’s a large part of our own population (you know, we average people who want the Constitution followed on every issue, every time, with no exceptions and no excuses) who focus all their time, money and energy on Federal elections as a solution to our problems.

In my opinion, both ends of that spectrum are problematic, at best.

In regard to the latter, going to the Federal government to fix problems created by the Federal government not only doesn’t work; but after a century or so of trying, it might be bordering on insanity.

As I wrote in a recent column on Personal Liberty Digest™, there is a solution to our problems, and it doesn’t rely on the Federal government magically fixing itself. Instead, it lies with us — through the Jeffersonian remedy called nullification.

Nullification: Educating The Masses

In September 2010, the Tenth Amendment Center, in tandem with local groups around the country, launched a series of events around the country to educate people on these principles. The Nullify Now! tour has already been to eight cities and is heading to Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 20; Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 22 ; plus Philadelphia; North Carolina; and elsewhere.

Our goal? Forcing State nullification — Thomas Jefferson’s doctrine that States must refuse to allow the enforcement of unConstitutional Federal laws — into the political discussion by means of a series of high-profile events. So far, it has been working.

For example, Texas State Representative David Simpson spoke at Nullify Now! in Fort Worth, Texas, while he was still a candidate for office last year. He went on to introduce legislation to nullify unConstitutional search and seizure by the Transportation Security Administration in Texas airports. While the bill didn’t go the distance, it got major national attention, bringing the idea that a State can and should step up to stop the unConstitutional TSA.

In other States, bills have been considered to nullify Washington’s unConstitutional acts on gold and silver, healthcare mandates, gun laws, Environmental Protection Agency regulations and more. Around the country, people are actually considering proposals to use their States to block the Federal government.

The Establishment Hates Nullification

In fact, it’s happening so much that some of those in the establishment who would reel in horror at the idea of personal liberty are out on the warpath. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC is just one example. She recently did a 14-minute segment on the subject of nullification. And her presentation, as you might guess, wasn’t a cheerleading session either.

The segment, titled “Confederates in the Attic,” was about how efforts today, primarily championed by the Tenth Amendment Center, to decentralize power and reject unConstitutional Federal “laws” are somehow directly related to slave owners in the pre-Civil War South.

No. That’s not a joke. She was quite serious.

She said: “A conservative group called the Tenth Amendment Center has been pushing a lot of the anti-health reform stuff… in the context of nullification. And they’re pushing for other kinds of nullification, too.”

The Center has been pushing anti-health reform stuff? Yep. We drafted the model bill, the Federal Health Care Nullification Act. Versions of our legislation — to either fully nullify or refuse compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — have been introduced in 11 States so far, and it’s making headway in a few, too.

We’re pushing for other kinds of nullification, too? Ab-so-freakin-lutely!

Two for two. Good job, Rachel! But, no, it’s not related to slave owners; it’s about decentralization — for freedom. In fact, nullification was used in opposition to Federal slave laws prior to the Civil War, but that’s something we can cover in more detail in a future column.

Rachel is not the only one trying to frame this movement in a negative light. The establishment has spent considerable time attacking our efforts, and the efforts of those pushing nullification. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently issued a “warning” that the Nullify Now! tour might be headed to a city near you. Saying “no” to Washington requires a “warning?” For lovers of endless central power, it sure does.

If you’re not catching any flak, you’re not over the target. And the Tenth Amendment Center, along with other advocates of nullification, are certainly over the target.

Real Progress

But it’s not just ideas and bill proposals that are happening. This is all building off an already-growing movement around the country.

Since 2007, 25 States have passed resolutions or binding laws refusing to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. The result? That law is still on the books in Congress. It has never been challenged in court. Yet, due to massive State-level resistance, that law sits null and void in much of the country.

Fifteen States are now defying both Congress and the Supreme Court on marijuana. Eight States have passed Firearms Freedom Acts, making State law that a gun made in State and sold in State is not part of “interstate commerce” and the Feds need to keep their dirty hands off. Seven States have passed Health Care Freedom Acts to block health care mandates from being enforced. And in Utah, a bill was passed this year allowing gold and silver to be used as legal tender. If enough States do that and enough people start using metal for currency, the entire Federal Reserve system should be quaking in its boots. Ending the Fed from the bottom up is the idea, and it’s going to work.

Not Just A Good Idea: Duty

James Madison informed us that nullification is not just something to talk about, or take action on after trying everything else. Instead, it’s your State’s duty to stand between the Federal government and you to protect your liberty. He called it “interposition.” In Virginia Resolution of 1798, he wrote:

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and 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.  [emphasis added]

Something significant is happening around the country. Plenty of informed people are beginning to make a stand in the name of a doctrine that the establishment despises. The idea is already reaching the general public. More and more people are understanding that elections don’t fix things. They never do. While our “leaders” would like us to believe that all roads lead to them, the fact of the matter is that it’s only through us — decentralized activism and nullification — that we’ll see a growth of liberty in this country.

Nullification isn’t just some historical oddity. It’s not just a good idea. It’s our duty to say no to violations of our liberty.

Sheriff Richard Mack put it best in a recent interview on Tenther Radio. His message to Washington? “Shove it up 1600 Pennsylvania, and leave us the hell alone!”

They don’t want us doing this. We are doing it anyway. Be a part of it, and Nullify Now!

–Michael Boldin

Whether The Government Wants Us To Or Not!

We don’t need no stinkin’ permission to exercise our rights. We need to exercise our rights whether the government wants us to or not.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my views with readers of the Personal Liberty Digest™, and am looking forward to doing so as often as possible. So I figured we should start out with a quick introduction.

I’m a proud Tenther.

Rachel Maddow and her ilk would have you believe that this is dangerous. But, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. To me, being a Tenther means I believe the Federal government is authorized to exercise only those powers that we the people delegated to it in the constitution — and nothing more.

Unfortunately, though, for a long time, things have been completely opposite. It’s gotten so bad in recent decades that I believe there’s very little the Federal government does that actually is authorized by the Constitution.

What Do We Do About It?

Do we march on D.C. and demand that the Federal politicians limit their own power?

Do we sue them in court in the hopes that the Federal judges will limit Federal power?

Do we “vote the bums out” and hope that the new bums will reject all that power left to them on a silver platter?

Power, And Some Warnings

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both warned us that if the Federal government ever became the sole and exclusive arbiter of the extent of its own powers, that power would grow endlessly, regardless of elections, separation of powers, courts or other vaunted parts of our system.

Surprise, surprise. They were right. For more than a century, we the people have been suing, marching, lobbying and voting bums out. Yet year in and year out, government continues to grow, and your liberty continues to diminish. And it doesn’t matter what political party is in power, the Federal beast keeps growing.

Power. The problem we face today is about power. And until we address the absolute fact that the Federal government has too much power, things will never change. Then, we’ll need to take the next step and acknowledge that going to the Federal government to fix problems created by the Federal government is not just absurd, but it never works.

John Adams also gave us a warning that “liberty once lost, is lost forever.” He wasn’t necessarily saying that there’s no hope whatsoever in a situation like ours. Instead, it was an important lesson on what we must face going forward. Whenever government tells us it needs more power to deal with an “emergency” — and it always seems to have them for both foreign and domestic issues — that same government will never voluntarily give that power back to the people. It will never just decide that the newfound power is something it doesn’t want. The result? Adams was trying to tell us that liberty is never regained without a long, difficult struggle by the people.

What Would Jefferson Do?

How do we fix this mess? Well, Thomas Jefferson was a pretty smart dude. In 1798, he gave a little advice on what to do when government won’t follow the limits given to it. In response to Federal violations of the 1st amendment that year he wrote that “whensoever” the Federal government exercises “undelegated powers… a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”

Reading this, you’ll notice that Jefferson didn’t say that a nullification of the act is a pretty decent remedy. He didn’t say that nullification is just a rightful remedy, or even a good idea to try after voting bums out or going to court. He told us that any time (whensoever) the Federal government exercises powers it isn’t supposed to exercise (undelegated powers), a nullification is the rightful remedy (our proper course of action right now).

What does that mean? Well, we’re not supposed to wait for the Federal government to correct itself. We’re not supposed to wait two or four or six years for some new bums to fix things for us. We’re not supposed to wait years for the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court to give us permission to be free. We’re supposed to exercise our rights whether the government wants us to our not.


Around the country, there’s a lot of talk about nullification; but what is it, really? I can think of no better way to define it than how Tenth Amendment Center research analyst Derek Sheriff has done — by describing what it is not:

Nullification is not secession or insurrection, but neither is it unconditional or unlimited submission. Nullification is not something that requires any decision, statement or action from any branch of the federal government. Nullification is not the result of obtaining a favorable court ruling. Nullification is not the petitioning of the federal government to start doing or to stop doing anything. Nullification doesn’t depend on any federal law being repealed. Nullification does not require permission from any person or institution outside of one’s own state.

Nullification is something that’s already happening around the country – and Derek explains the process:

Nullification begins with a decision made in your state legislature to resist a federal law deemed to be unconstitutional. It usually involves a bill, which is passed by both houses and is signed by your governor. In some cases, it might be approved by the voters of your state directly, in a referendum. It may change your state’s statutory law or it might even amend your state constitution. It is a refusal on the part of your state government to cooperate with, or enforce any federal law it deems to be unconstitutional.

At its very core, nullification is any action or set of actions on a State level which results in some Federal law being rendered, in practice, null and void or unenforceable.


I recently went to an event in my hometown of Los Angeles called HempCon. This was a huge production at the massive convention center in downtown LA. There were loads of vendors and businesses from every angle you can think of in support of the marijuana industry.

There were home security companies to help protect your weed. Solar power companies offered to help you grow your weed. Doctors were giving out medical marijuana cards to virtually anyone with $80 and an hour of time. There were even delivery services. Seriously. You can get your marijuana delivered to you in Los Angeles 24 hours a day… in 30 minutes or less. The pizza companies have nothing on these guys! It was amazing if you think about it from an economic standpoint. This was the market — working its wonders.

What’s the point?

Virtually every single one of those businesses was either directly violating Federal law or aiding someone else in doing so, because marijuana is illegal, according to the Feds — but not the Constitution — in all situations. And guess what: No thugs from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug Enforcement Administration shut the place down. Business functioned, and people did what they wanted to in freedom. That’s the way things are supposed to be.

But it’s not just Congress and some unConstitutional agencies that claim these people are breaking the law. The Supreme Court is on their side, too. In the 2005 Gonzales v. Raich case, the Court ruled that a California cancer patient who grew six plants in her back yard, consumed them at home and never bought or sold them was somehow under purview of the “interstate commerce” clause of the Constitution — and subject to Federal, not State, jurisdiction. Basically, the justices said: “We don’t care what your State law says; we’re in charge.”

At that time of that ruling, there were 10 states that had such medical marijuana laws. After the Supremes told us they were, in essence, illegal, how many were repealed? Zero! And today, there are even more States joining in. There are now 15 States defying Washington on marijuana, and they are getting away with it.

The Blueprint

What we have here, then, is a blueprint. When enough people say no to unConstitutional “laws,” regulations and mandates… and enough States pass laws to back up those people, there’s not much the Federal government can do, but slowly and consistently back off. There are no tanks rolling into Los Angeles to shut down the dispensaries. This is far from perfect, but it can work, and it is working right now.

Whether it’s the Transportation Security Administration, or gun rights or health freedom — or even rejecting the unConstitutional Department of Education — the solution to our problems does not lie with the Federal government. It lies in your States, and with you.

The Big Question

So here’s the final question — and my big challenge to you today. When it happens someday (and it will) that the Federal government tells you that you have to purchase a healthcare plan and you start thinking about penalties for violating that “law,” ask yourself this: Do you have as much courage as the pot smokers?

I sure hope you do. Because we the people need to exercise our rights whether the government gives us “permission” to or not!