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.
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.