Saturday, February 28, 2009

The 10th Amendment in Virginia? Get My Smelling Salts, Belle!

I have read this a couple of times and I still don’t believe it.

Earlier in the month, I wrote about the rising number of state legislatures which are writing or considering resolutions that will be delivered to the federal government asserting the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution.

And (either in a comment or email) I also asserted that the Virginia House of Delegates would never bring forward such legislation, given the symbiotic relationship between northern Virginia (NOVA) and Washington, D.C. The District's boundaries are contiguous with both Virginia and Maryland. In other words, our Commonwealth and the state of Maryland would no doubt ignore this movement given the amounts of money we receive from the feds, and the number of federal government jobs held by Virginians and Marylanders.

I was wrong.
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I knew the MSM wasn't going to let on to a wider world what was happening, so I googled the 10th Amendment to pass the information on to a European. I was gob smacked by an entry near the top of the first site I tried, here.

This is the text of the full resolution currently in the House of Delegates. I don't know if it has made it out of committee yet, or even what committee would be responsible (definitely need to do more research on this). Nontheless, read the carefully crafted language equally carefully. These are not happy campers:

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 61 Offered February 26, 2009 [my emphasis -- D] Honoring state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

----Patrons- Peace, Fralin, Byron, Cline, Cole, Gilbert, Landes, Lingamfelter, Marshall, R.G., Morgan, Ware, R.L. and Wright

---- Referred to Committee on Rules ----WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: “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”; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

WHEREAS, the states today are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal laws are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment assures that we, the people of the United States of America and each sovereign state of the United States, now have, and have always had, rights the federal government may not usurp; and

WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 4 says that “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican form of government,” and the Ninth Amendment states that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations, and other proposals that may be anticipated, may further violate the Constitution of the United States; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That the Congress of the United States be urged to honor state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The Commonwealth of Virginia hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. The Commonwealth by this resolution serves notice to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers. Further, the Commonwealth urges that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding shall be prohibited or repealed.

Here’s the money quote:

Further, the Commonwealth urges that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding shall be prohibited or repealed.

For anyone who has ever worked in local government, non-profit agencies which receive federal funding, social service agencies, etc., this heart of the resolution speaks to their frustration with unfunded mandates. They are a manifestation of political evil.

Read the information at the link regarding this serious breach of responsibility by our Imperial Congress. It lays out several cases in which the interference by Washington - all hat and no cattle - seriously impedes local and state governments from functioning well.

Here’s a small example from my own experience, which demonstrates how difficult it can be to comply with these ignorant federal rules. This dates back to my job as a foster care social worker.

One of the federal rules was that home visits to foster care children must be made at a minimum of every three months. Generally speaking, that’s a good rule to ensure oversight of the foster care family and to ascertain that the foster child is doing well.

However, in this situation, I had a caseload full of dysfunctional teenagers who belonged in institutional care. Their parents were the ones needing foster care, as these big adolescent slugs often physically attacked their parents, sometimes causing physical damage. The stupid and short-sighted judicial decision was to put these “children” in foster care.

Why? Because it was cheaper than providing therapeutic institutional care - which is what these “children” needed. But that solution could run anywhere from thirty to sixty thousand dollars per kid per annum. And each kid needed a few years to get back on track. There were no quick fixes.

Instead, these teenagers were put in my “care” and it was left to me to find a foster home to take them in. Some folks were good at handling troublesome teenagers, but we hadn’t nearly enough of those brave souls. And group homes took one look at their record and said, “no thanks, they will disrupt a fragile group” - they knew from experience not to take on a Sisyphean task.

I had one girl, a real hell-raiser, who was about 15 at the time she ran away from her third placement. After she found a place in Harlem in New York City, she let us know where she was. I was in Virginia while my foster care white southern sassy hellion was living it up in Harlem. I prayed for her survival. Even as mean as she was, taking on a whole gang might prove more than she could handle. She might have to learn painfully that a big mouth could mean big trouble.

My supervisor announced one day that I’d have to travel to Harlem and do a “home visit” with this “child”. I looked at her a long time and finally replied “do you want me to refuse right now or do you want my resignation? Ain’t no way I am taking my lily white little self to Harlem. I don’t care what the feds want. Ain’t going there. Let them put me in jail; I can catch up on my reading. Fire me, I can collect unemployment”.

I never went to Harlem. My little angel returned from her adventure many months later, with diamond studs in her gums and corn rows in her orange hued hair. She was fat and happy…and glory be, she wasn’t pregnant.

I didn’t get fired, but I did burn out eventually and left the job. It was the first time I’d ever left one job without having another lined up, but the Baron assured me that if I left an oppressive, crazy-making job without waiting for any guarantees, I’d never be oppressed by a job again. And he was right.

So you see the nature of unfunded mandates. Some of them are impossible commands from a lazy national Congress, many of whose members don't like the onerous task of having to actually read the legislation for which they vote. Thus, the states which grab the pork coming out of this newest Stimulating Evil are going to find they’ve stuck a bargain with the devil. Make no mistake, that mess has more potholes than a street in Argentina.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a history of talking back to the Federal Government. Here, from the Tenth Amendment site, is part of the first sass-back, well over two hundred years ago:

The following resolution was adopted by the Virginia Senate on December 24, 1798, as a protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress. It was authored by James Madison, in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson, who authored a set of resolutions for Kentucky.

RESOLVED, That the General Assembly of Virginia, doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.

That this assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the Union of the States, to maintain which it pledges all its powers; and that for this end, it is their duty to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the only basis of that Union, because a faithful observance of them, can alone secure it’s existence and the public happiness.

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…

The resolution continues on this page and it is worth reading in its entirety. There’s not a relativistic equivocation in the whole document.

It had to come down to this sooner or later. The burdens laid on the backs of states and municipalities are akin to what the Romans did to their outlying provinces. And we know what happened to Rome.

That the rebellion of the states - civil and polite so far- has begun now because of a constellation of events, the center of which is the global financial meltdown. The states are saying, in essence, that they can’t afford to belong to Washington anymore.

It remains to be seen what will come of this movement and what repercussions it will have. No one can say. There are too many unknowns, too many unprecedented events in play.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Tenth Amendment in your state legislature. I, for one, thought it couldn’t happen in Virginia…and perhaps the resolution won’t pass the first time around. But it will be back.

As the Baron would say, it’s steam engine time.


Henrik R Clausen said...

Heh - I think I mentioned the idea that this might happen to Baron a while ago, and was told 'impossible' :)

This is seriously healthy. We citizens - in Europe as in the US - need to understand the workings of political power, to take back that power, and to apply it as needed.

The Elite, be it Washington or Brussels, have wasted their opportunity and squandered the trust we have in them, and the rising chaos is the symptom of that.

Next step: local currencies. Or would the Constitution make that illegal?

Henrik R Clausen said...

BTW, wouldn't these reassertions of the 9th and 10th Amendments constitute a subtle attack on the (mis)use of the 14th Amendment" "For the Greater Good"?

Thomas E. Woods in his provocative book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History lists some strange examples of how the 14th Amendment, outside its original context, is used by the federal government to encroach on state authority.

More 14th Amendment material (now I'm getting curious):
It has impact on immigration and that of illegal aliens, too.

On the subject of federal encroachment, Marc Faber recommends getting gold. And to hold it outside the United States. Why the latter?

Due to The Great Gold Robbery of 1933.

heroyalwhyness said...

FWIW . . .

The Punish Mark Sanford Amendment" buried in the porkulus sounds like an end run of States Rights. . . .if a Governor turns down any stimulus monies the state legislature is allowed to vote for it and override the Governor.

dienw said...

with diamond studs in her gums....

Ouch! That is a bit like having the Dentist stick a needle into your gums on permanent basis.

livfreerdie said...

Henrik, part of Article I, Section 8:

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;


Baron Bodissey said...

Henrik --

What you mentioned a while ago was fragmentation of the United States, which will not happen.

First there must be devolution – the return of political power to the several States, as guaranteed by the Constitution. This will restore the original Constitutional order.

Then new associations of States may form, as the the States see fit.

But right now what is occurring is a simple reassertion of sovereignty. Actual separation – the dissolution of the Union – cannot occur unless catastrophic conditions emerge (which may well happen), because the states are too tightly bound to one another and to the federal center.

As the center collapses, the States will reassert their natural order. Thus, if the Lord is with us, we will not have to face “the war of all against all”.

You’re right about the 14th Amendment. But the “Commerce clause” is the most misused. The Federal government routinely declares that some activity is a form of interstate commerce, or impacts interstate commerce, or makes somebody think about interstate commerce, and voilà! The Federal government asserts control over it.

Between 75% and 90% of federal government actions are unconstitutional.

Henrik R Clausen said...

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

Thanks, livfreerdie :)

Now, I feel like playing another "What if?" scenario on this. What if the Federal government grossly mismanages this task? Not as in printing a trillion dollars it doesn't have, but something really big, like 14-digit deficits that causes the dollar as such to tank?

That seems not to have been considered.

If this has been going on for decades, impeachment is not a solution, for Obama is merely making a bad situation worse, not creating it in the first place. Having looked at the causes and growth of the deficit, I'd put the blame on L. B. Johnson - which isn't much use...

Placing blame is all fine and useful, unless the issue is too big to be concerned with mere 'blame'. Then coming up with a viable solution becomes first priority. This is why I start pondering state-local currencies, using whatever collateral seems suitable.

Here in Europe, where the domino effect is threatening to take out Austria today, we have a similar situation with the Euro. It was supposed to create a great zone of "Stability and growth", but the reality is that we have a great zone of responsibility-shifting, where the various governments are trying to find ways to circumvent the 3 % deficit limit (Obama goes to 12 %, for reference), instead of respecting it as sound and useful.

Having separate currencies for each state/nation will incur expenses, such as exchange fees and fluctuation risks. On the other hand, it lets each country be free to enjoy/suffer the consequences of the economical policies it follows, and thus a way to experimentally (large scale!) determine which economical policies work best.

The current situation in Europe is that one currency for all means one zone of collapse, no 'firewalls' between the economies.

The reason Austria is in the crosshairs this week is huge outstanding loans in fickle East European economies, where taking loans in Euro was seen as attractive, partly due to the usefulness of that currency, partly due to the very low interest rates of the Eurozone.

Now those praised low rates are coming back to haunt us, with a vengeance.

Denmark is not participating in the Euro. Thanks heavens for that...

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks, Baron. I think we didn't actually disagree that much, more that we had some 'linguistic dissonance' (is there a term like that) on the matter. Reasserting the Constitution, not abolishing it, is what I would expect, too.

Oh. I'd like to recommend the Thomas E. Woods books, not least his Politically Incorrect Guides. They're easy to read even for a non-American like myself, and attack the problem with a freshness and honesty that has earned him many fine enemies.

An opportunity to meet him for a seminar or the like would be a prime justification for me to visit the United States.

Dymphna said...

@Henrik R Clausen--

There is a whole series of "Politically Incorrect Guides" (known as PIGs) on all the hot button issues, including the environment.

I like them, though they tend to be a gloss in some cases. However, they come with excellent bibliographies and one can really expand his or her knowledge base on a particular subject.

Wood has a new book, not one of the PIG guides, called Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse

The Foreword is by Ron Paul, a Congressman who ran for president and got a lot of support from the blogosphere.

While I like much of Paul's political philosophy, his foreign policy is unrealistic.

We are too far down the interventionist road to turn back now. It would be too radical. Policy changes need to be incremental and Ron Paul doesn't do anything by increments.

Here is a blog post featuring his response to the Pork Package:

Ron Paul: US must repudiate philosophy of "government intervention, socialism, paper money and welfare dependency" to get back on its feet

If the video doesn't show at first, hit "refresh".

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks, Dymphna :)

I know the PIG series - the Spencer book I read some three years ago - nice pun to have a pig on the title book of a book on Islam.

'Meltdown' is not really out on Amazon yet, so I picked up his 33 Questions About American History instead - that's a companion volume to the PIG to American History.

Ron Paul is a great fellow, uncompromising and principled. The distrust in government in his circles does tend to be a bit extreme though. But he makes some seriously good points.

Picked up a book about the Austrian School of Economics, too. Now I need to make a book reading retreat :)