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Saturday, 26 May 2012

On States' Rights

Early this year, I wrote about the possibility of a civil war in the States. The is always the same reason why individual states get restless and want to secede from the Union. This reason is simple. The United States is a confederate of states which freely agree to be part of the larger union. If any state decides no longer to belong to that confederation, there is a constitutional impetus which may allow such a state to separate. There is no compelling reason for any state to surrender state's rights for the sake of the whole. State rights are enshrined in law.

Now, there are several issues which may push any particular state out of the union. The first is simply state sovereignty. A state can decide as a unite to be part of the union if that state both believes in the sacredness of that union and the viability. For example, if the United States Federal Government went bankrupt, but an individual state was financial sound, there could be no compelling reason for that state to give over state assets to bail out the Federal Government. In the EU, this is the same argument happening over Greece, Spain, and Portugal, for example.

Secondly, moral issues which were once held sacred by the Federal Government are no longer held so by the Executive and perhaps elements of the judicial branch. Civil marriage for same sex couples or abortion would fall into these categories of moral stands taken by some states in opposition to the Federal Government.

Thirdly, a state may not desire to support a particular effort or law, such as Obamacare, and decide not to cooperate with a national mandate.

I am a states' rights advocate. I believe that if the Federal Government oversteps its boundaries set down by the Constitution, or if the Executive Branch becomes too powerful, the states individually, or as a group, have the right to secede from an already faulty union. However, I would hope such a secession would be peaceful and not a repetition of the bloodiest war our country has ever seen.

If you do not think we are divided, take a look at this map. One of the experts on States' rights, J. Layne, writes this,
States' rights is about the states being able to maintain their individual identities in the community of states.  Each state is a unique and sovereign being that has a right to exist and direct itself to prosperity, within the limits it has agreed to in the Constitutional compact.  One of President Washington's U.S. Attorneys observed that the Federal Constitution effectively is incorporated into the state constitutions.  In other words, each state has its government, its laws, its constitution.  The Federal Constitution simply is like an amendment to each state's constitution, sharing power with the federal government.  As such, the federal power is delegated power, and that delegation comes from the people of each state, as James Madison himself admitted in an exchange with Patrick Henry at Virginia's ratifying convention.  And the power that delegates may undelegate.  That's as firm a principle of American freedom as any that can be named.  So it follows from this, or at least the South argued, that each state could undelegate the power it had once granted the federal government.

He added in a private interview that
 States' rights is not about racism.  That is unfortunately what it has often been tied to.  That was an abuse of states' rights.  States rights at its core is about local control.  The states pre-existed the federal government, and they made the federal government.  The federal government is a creature.  The states are creators.  That government which is closest to the people and still able to fulfill its proper functions is the best government.  So that's what states' rights is and should be about, not guaranteeing a state's "right" to do something it and no government may do, which is to enslave or oppress racial minorities.


Adrian Gregorio Jr said...

There will not be a Civil War again in the US. The last one was a very bloody affair and we are not looking to go through that again. Besides, who has time for it anyways? Half of us are living off of the Government's dole and the other half is too tired working to support them.

Oh BTW, you were linked to, by Drudge, so expect alot of posts. I enjoyed browsing your blog.

ZZMike said...

I doubt there will be another civil war here in America. We remember too well what happened last time. On the other hand, the times, the customs....

Many of us believe that the Federal government is usurping too many of the state's powers. It imposes its will when it serves the cause (no to marijuana, yes to homosexual marriage), and prevents states from enforcing immigration laws.

A comparison with Dickens is compelling:

State: "We want to enforce immigration law."

Feds: "You can't - that's our prerogative."

"But you don't do anything about it."

"Let us leave it alone, then."

There may be one instance where a state may wish to secede: when it hosts a large enough majority of Muslims, who may wish to have our cake and eat it, too.

At that point, the dilemma is whether to convince them of their error by forcible means, or let them go and be rid of them.

From a strictly political point, secession would make things rather more complicated: could the state issue its own currency? exchange ambassadors? establish secure borders?

Most states rely too heavily on Federal money (in large part, on the return of the money they send Washington) to "go it alone".

(I confess to not having read your earlier post. I'll make an effort to find it.)

The "Constitutional bans" link is dated 2006 - there have been significant changes since then. For the most part, courts have decided that the people have once again gotten it wrong.

One should go back and read the Federalist Papers - the arguments for a central Federal government. But even there, I believe the writers would be appalled at how much power the Federal government has amassed (bit by bit, over the years), and more recently, how much power the Chief Executive has arrogated to himself.