Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Monday, November 20, 2023
ESSAY: State Legislatures Have the Power to Resist Federal Tyranny
J. Christopher alexander
America’s Founders fought a bloody revolution in order to escape the “absolute despotism” to which they had been reduced under the hereditary monarchy of the British government, a system that Thomas Paine said “laid the world in blood and ashes.” After that revolution was won, the Founders’ singular focus was to create a republic that would safeguard individual freedom and state sovereignty by vesting only limited, specifically enumerated powers in a federal government. The Constitution’s first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights), Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, as well as the Ninth and Tenth Amendments establish clear limitations on the power of the federal government and make clear that all power not specifically delegated to the federal government remains with the people, and the individual states.
Under our constitutional system, federal power is the exception, not the rule. As James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, wrote in Federalist Number 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” An observer of the massive, often unchallenged federal overreach occurring in 2023 America who knew nothing about our Constitution or history would be surprised to learn this fact.
Our Founders were jealous guardians of state sovereignty and individual freedom, because they knew too well the dangers of an unrestrained government. The Constitution, the writings of the Founders, and the notes from the ratification conventions establish that every State that ratified the Constitution knew it was doing so with the assurance that it was retaining the vast bulk of its sovereignty, with full authority to nullify any federal law the State believed was outside the scope of its delegated authority. Without this assurance, the Constitution would never have been ratified.