Resurrecting States’ Rights
Wayne Carlson

The older I get, and I am fast approaching the half century mark, the more I have come to believe that the political doctrine known as "States’ Rights" must be resurrected and embraced by the people of America if they are to enjoy the comprehensive blessings of liberty the founding generation hoped to bequeath their children. More than this, I believe that States’ Rights, which is the very essence of the federal system the founders established, is our only hope of living in relative peace and happiness within society.

Now, I realize that the average person living in the consolidated nation-state known as the U.S. today might take umbrage at the suggestion that they are not enjoying the same blessings of liberty their ancestors enjoyed. They desperately want to believe that they are the freest people that ever lived. The ruling class knows this as well, which is why they employ our political leaders to continue the charade. To make sure the deception is complete we hear the same thing from the talking heads they employ on television and from the teachers and administrators they hire to oversee the government school factories increasingly controlled from Washington D.C. What makes this deception so powerful and convincing, besides the lack of a thorough study and understanding of our historic origin, is the fact that we do have some liberties that are not enjoyed everywhere, such as the freedom to worship and to speak our minds without being subject to arrest. I am certainly grateful for each of these liberties, though it must be noted, with peril, that they are no longer widely accepted as inalienable rights bequeathed by our creator, but rather as rights we may enjoy so long as no one, especially government, is threatened by their exercise. In other words, government, not God, is the source of our liberties and grants these rights at its discretion alone.

If we accept this premise, and we should not, government can control the extent of our free speech and restrict what it deems "subversive" or "hateful."

[Think of the so-called "Patriot Act" and President Bush’s "you’re either with us, or against us" mentality as indicative of what your government may have in mind for you and the prerogatives they claim.] Religious freedom is not even immune. A day may not be too far off when the Bible’s treatment of sodomy as wicked and an abomination may be restricted by "hate speech" legislation, or a Supreme Court decision. Christians are increasingly considered "bigoted" and thought of as a "problem." This, we might assume, is at the root of the mockery people of faith receive in their characterizations at the hands of many in the film industry.

The usurpations of the "reserved" rights and powers of the State governments, and their people, by different branches of the "national" government, has been a primary cause of the social strife and unhappiness that millions of America’s people feel today. We may be "united" through government coercion, but there is no real unity. The ruling class knows this as well, and they live in dread of its consequences to their control. They also know that the easiest way to maintain their control and gain the people’s acquiescence to their monopoly on power is to conjure some grave threat from abroad that they must protect us from. Thus has Soviet Communism, and with its collapse the new war on Terrorism, been utilized.

Many will point to the attacks in New York and Washington D.C. as justification for coerced national unity, restrictions on civil liberties, and such government policies as "preemptive wars." No one holding the reins of power in the government or the media will question with any degree of honesty, or persistency, why the targets our attackers chose were the nerve centers of America’s policy makers and ruling elite, political, economic and military. No one wants to question who is really profiting [financially and politically,] from our aggressive and invasive foreign policies. There is never a referendum on these policies among the people, or within our States that the "feds" pretend they are serving. The fact that the Bush family fortune was/is made in the oil industry, and that the justifications for spending our people’s treasure and blood in invading oil rich Iraq were bogus, are just coincidences that bear no scrutiny we are told. Likewise, it was just happenstance that the Halliburton corporation got the sweet multi-billion dollar contract from the Bush administration to rebuild what our bombs destroyed in Iraq. It’s only another funny coincidence that Halliburton’s CEO was also our Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

That men seek power and then use that power for their own benefit is as old a story as man. His nature has not changed. History is replete with example after example of rulers who use fear, deceit, and propaganda to maintain their hold on power. Our government is no different, as men with the same vulnerabilities, passions, and temptations run it.

In speaking of the powers exercised by government, and recognizing its constant tendency toward corruption and despotism, Thomas Jefferson told his countrymen that government had to be tied down with the chains of the Constitution [law,] and that its powers had to be dispersed. This understanding was the basis of the federal system the States created to SERVE THEM. The sovereignty of each State was specifically recognized and guaranteed at the same time that they were forming their bonds of voluntary union.

The Declaration of Independence was not the first recognition of the separate and independent character of the colonies but it lays out the principle of State sovereignty for all to see during the genesis of the State’s "union." It reads in part, "We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are and ought of right to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

In the second act of union, titled The Articles of Confederation, the status of each State as retaining its sovereignty is seen in the first three articles of that document:

Article I. The style of this Confederacy shall be the United States of America.

Article II. Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

Article III. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to or attack upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, SOVEREIGNTY, trade or any pretense whatever.

Who cannot understand the clear meaning of such words as independence and sovereignty? Now we come to the third act of union that deceptive men have tried to use to promote the lie that under the compact styled "The Constitution of the United States," a consolidated nation State was formed. These power hungry men always point to the words in the Preamble that say "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union," etc. as THE act of consolidation and an unstated abandonment of each State’ sovereignty. This lie is easily exposed when we know our history and understand that the original phrase as drafted was worded thus; "We the People of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, etc. [with each individual State listed.] Prior to its submission to the States and their people for ratification, however, it was recognized that not all-13 States named would necessarily ratify it. It stipulated, remember, that upon the ratification of just nine, the new government would begin operation. The presumption was that non-ratifying States would act in their own sovereign capacity as Independent Nations. There was never the slightest hint at their coercion. Thus the need to change the wording as they did, but the intent was clear. It this isn’t enough we need to remember that without the promise to include the first 10 amendments, many States would have refused to ratify the document. Specifically, Article IX and X were adopted to make clear the States determination to retain ALL those rights not SPECIFICALLY delegated. They read;

Article IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article 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. Certainly one power nowhere prohibited to the States was the power to withdraw from the voluntary compact they were deciding to enter into. Secession then, was a reserved right. To believe otherwise would have been to nullify the very principle the colonies claimed when they declared their independence from their union with Great Britain!

One could site many other examples from the historic record to bolster the States claims to sovereignty. For example, many of the ratification documents themselves expressly reserved the right to withdraw from the union should they deem it to be in their best interest.

I began this essay by suggesting that we must resurrect the doctrine of States’ Rights to remedy the social, political, and cultural disunity that pervades this land. It will not be an easy road to travel, as those in power are not prone to give it up voluntarily. Empowering the States and their people, as was intended by the framers to restrain the natural tendency toward despotism is the only possible way we will be able to free ourselves, not only from our own servitude, but perhaps the rest of the world’s as well.

There are two axioms we must ever keep in mind as it relates to the problems associated with the preservation of our liberties and maintaining control over our own governments.

1. "That all Just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed."
2. "Resistance to tyranny, is Obedience to God."