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Constitutional "Rightful Remedy" for Federal Tyranny

November 19, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Views: 156

I simply don't think the US Constitution was written to be read and interpreted by any other than the average citizen of the 13 confederated States of America. Mind you, in the 18th Century that meant white male property holders, but those were the times, and the fact remains that estimates of literacy at the time of our war of independence range as high as 95% of the population. Thomas Paine's Common Sense, for example, sold over 100,000 copies in the first two months of its printing, an astonishing number that must have delighted and overwhelmed his publisher.

So when I read in the Constitution, Amendment X: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," I can understand it. It says that if the Constitution does not explicitly authorize the federal government ("the United States") to do something, nor explicitly forbid the individual states ("the States") from doing something, then those powers to do things belong to the states and, by extension, to their constituents ("the people"). If it's not specifically given to the feds, or specifically denied to the states - in writing in the Constitution - then automatically and until such time as the Constitution is amended, the power belongs to the states and their people. States have lots of power; the federal government has much less power; and the powers belonging to the feds are spelled out in black and white. Is that so tough?

Fast forward a couple of centuries, and here we are. The federal government has grown to gargantuan proportions, and involved itself in every nook and cranny of our lives. Amazingly enough, this very development was anticipated by the architects of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was added to spell out in unambiguous language what was commonly understood to be true, and it was added to secure the ratification of the Constitution by several states, chief among them Virginia, which wouldn't vote for it otherwise.

So now we've got a federal government that does pretty much anything it wants - all three branches. The question becomes: What can we do about it? Where can we go if, when, and because the government violates the Constitution. Here's where Thomas E. Woods, Jr., comes in.

In Nullification, Woods has written a manual of, "How to resist federal tyranny in the 21st Century." That's clear enough, too.

It turns out that not only did the Constitution's framers anticipate the federal government gradually usurping the rights of the states and their peoples, they also created ways to fight that usurpation. There's secession, of course, which, despite the Civil War has never been proven illegal. There's the route of constitutional amendment, which is both highly desirable and logistically arduous. And then there's nullification, which means that should a state find an action by the federal government to be in violation of the Constitution, then it has a right, and a duty, to declare that act or law null and void within its borders, refuse to enforce it, and prohibit agents of the federal government from enforcing it, to the extent of its ability to do so.

Nullification has a long and honorable history dating from the earliest days of the Republic, and Woods covers that history thoroughly. Nullification was even used by Northern states to refuse to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws. Today, nullification is being practiced in at least 14 states, which have declared the medical use of marijuana to be legal and acceptable within their borders, in defiance of federal laws. There is also a growing movement to amend the Constitution to reaffirm that it protects only the rights of living human beings, something the Founders thought too obvious to warrant mentioning, and nullification might prove fruitful here, too. The current Supreme Court has dramatically extended First Amendment rights to soulless corporations, in a way that struck the four dissenting justices as "misguided," "dangerous," "reckless" - almost certainly unconstitutional. Yes, the Supreme Court, just another branch of the federal government, must answer to the states and the people - the ultimate judges of constitutionality.

Woods argues that nullification is, and since the time of Jefferson and Madison has been seen as, the "rightful remedy" for unconstitutional acts on the part of the federal government, and that the states, which preceded and ratified the Constitution, are and should be the vehicle for the application of that remedy. The federal government, of which the Supreme Court is a part, cannot be the final judge of the legality and constitutionality of its own acts. That's the ultimate example of the fox guarding the hen house. The states, individually if necessary, have the right to judge the constitutionality of federal acts, and the duty to act on that judgment. Nullification redresses constitutional grievances without a state leaving the Union (secession), and without amending the Constitution, which because of its understandable difficulty is easily blocked by other states whose interests the unconstitutional act may benefit.

This is powerful stuff. And it comes at the right time. The people are not powerless in the face of an unaccountable government run amok. It is the states wherein power resides. It says so in plain English, in the Constitution, and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., has done us all a great service by pointing that out.

Please read this book, and make its arguments your own. Buy an extra copy for your local library. And above all, read, discuss, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

In addition to reviewing books, Rick Ostrander writes about 21st Century homesteading on the Santa Fe Trail, and building resilient communities in post-Peak Oil America. You're invited to visit his new blog,

Source: EzineArticles
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