Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category
The Birth of A New Constitution: The historical precedent which establishes a proof for the claim that a modern Constitutional Convention cannot be constrained.
Let us set aside for a moment arguments for and against a modern Constitutional Convention. Instead, let’s analyze the reasons why the John Birch Society warns against a probable run-away convention.
Proponents of a Constitutional Convention assure the people that a convention would be limited by the resolutions which empower the meeting and that the ratification of the several states would protect the people from bad amendments. The John Birch Society maintains that the language of the resolutions establishes a convention and its purpose but cannot constrain the power of the delegates who act in a capacity superior to the existing framework of government. They further maintain that the ratification process of the existing governmental framework can also be amended as it is part of the framework that is being modified. The JBS does not reference anything within Article V that supports their assertions, so how do they justify their position? It is justified by an understanding of the historical precedent established in 1787.
I. The concept of a convention: The Sovereign Will of The People
The convention concept is outlined in the Declaration of Independence when it states:
“That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
II. The Confederacy
On June 7th, 1776, The Continental Congress issued what is now known as Lee’s Resolution:
“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”
This resolution resulted in 1) The Declaration of Independence, 2) The Articles of Confederation and 3) The foreign alliances thought necessary to win the War for Independence.
III. A Plea For A More Perfect Union with Unanimous Consent
The Annapolis Maryland Convention in 1786 resolved that a Constitutional Convention should be called to remedy defects in the Articles of Confederation.
“Under this impression, Your Commissioners, with the most respectful deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous conviction, that it may essentially tend to advance the interests of the union, if the States, by whom they have been respectively delegated, would themselves concur, and use their endeavours to procure the concurrence of the other States, in the appointment of Commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to, by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”
This resolution was submitted to the Congress of the United States along with a letter dated Sept 14, 1786 in the hand of Mr Dickinson. The question of a Convention having been deliberated it was decided in a report on Proceedings in Congress; February 21, 1787 …
“Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.”
IV. A Convention Called
Having the force of a resolution of the Congress, the States in turn, all but one, did appoint delegates to a convention in Philadelphia. This convention later became known as the Constitutional Convention, having derived its name from the fact that its primary fruit was the Constitution that we now discuss.
The references above illustrate that this convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation in order to remedy its defects. Interestingly, one of its defects was considered the ratification process. Let’s look at the ratification clause in the Articles.
“Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. “
Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation
This point is important, because, the ratification clause within the Constitution is held up as a safeguard for a future convention, so this precedent seems to indicate that that is a logical fallacy.
V. A Run Away Convention
Is it fair to classify the Convention of 1787 as a runaway convention? If “runaway” is defined as having exceeded the mandates upon which it was called, yes. If “runaway” is defined as having altered the ratification process, yes. The Convention of 1787 most assuredly was a runaway convention, however, that does not negate its effectiveness nor its legitimacy. It does, however, provide justification for concern and prudence when deliberating the possibility of a second convention today.
Having sited the Articles of Confederation and Congressional resolutions, it is also expedient to list the actual state resolutions which empowered the delegates:
Sect. II. BE it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, That seven Commissioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorized as Deputies from this Commonwealth, to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorised by other States, to assemble in Convention at Philadelphia, as above recommended, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such an Act for that purpose, to the United States in Congress, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same.
Resolved, That the Honorable David Brearley, William C. Houston, William Paterson and John Neilson, esquires, commissioners appointed on the part of this state, or any three of them, be, and they hereby are authorized and empowered to meet such commissioners as have been or may be appointed by the other states in the Union at the city of Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the second Monday in May next, for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of the Union as to trade and other important objects, and of devising such further provisions as shall appear necessary to render the Constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies thereof.
Sect. II. Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Fitzsimons, James Wilson and Governeur Morris, Esquires, are hereby appointed deputies from this state to meet in the convention of the deputies of the respective states of North-America, to be held at the city of Philadelphia, on the second day of the month of May next. And the said Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Fitzsimons, James Wilson and Governeur Morris, Esquires, or any four of them are hereby constituted and appointed deputies from this state, with powers to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by the other states to assemble in the said convention at the city aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing all such alterations and further provisions as may be necessary to render the foederal constitution fully adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such act or acts for that purpose, to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the
I. Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the state of North-Carolina, and by the authority of the same, That five Commissioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorised as Deputies from this state, to meet at Philadelphia on the first day of May next, then and there to meet and confer with such Deputies as may be appointed by the other states for similar purposes, and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remove the defects of our federal union, and to procure the enlarged purposes which it was intended to effect, and that they report such an act to the General Assembly of this state, as when agreed to by them, will effectually provide for the …
Sect. 1. BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED by the General Assembly of Delaware, That George Read, Gunning Bedford, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, and Jacob Broom, Esquires, are hereby appointed Deputies from this State to meet in the Convention of the Deputies of other States, to be held at the City of Philadelphia on the Second Day of May next. And the said George Read, Gunning Bedford, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, and Jacob Broom, Esquires, or any Three of them, are hereby constituted and appointed Deputies from this State, with Powers to meet such Deputies as may be appointed and authorized by the other States to assemble in the said Convention at the City aforesaid, and to join with them in devising, deliberating on, and discussing, such Alterations and further Provisions, as may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of the Union; and in reporting such Act or Acts for that Purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, may effectually provide for the same: So always and provided, that such Alterations, or further Provisions, or any of them, do not extend to that Part of the Fifth Article of the Confederation of the said States, finally ratified on the first Day of March, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, which declares, that “in determining Questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one Vote.”
Be it ordained by the Representatives of the Freemen of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houstoun, and Nathaniel Pendleton, Esquires, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners, who, or any two or more of them, are hereby authorised as deputies from this state to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by other states, to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, and to join with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and farther provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union, and in reporting such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the same. In case of the death of any of the said deputies, or of their declining their appointments, the Executive are hereby authorised to supply such vacancies.
Resolved (if the honorable the Senate concur herein), That five delegates be appointed on the part of this state, to meet such delegates as may be appointed on the part of the other states respectively, on the second Monday in May next, at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress, and to the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union; and that in case of such concurrence, the two houses of the legislature will meet, on Thursday next, at such place as the honorable the Senate shall think proper, for the purpose of electing the said delegates, by joint ballot.
And it is further Resolved, that the Said Delegates on the part of this Commonwealth be, and they are hereby instructed not to acceed to any alterations or additions that may be proposed to be made in the present Articles of Confederation, which may appear to them, not to consist with the true republican Spirit and Genius of the Said Confederation: and particularly that they by no means interfere with the fifth of the Said Articles which provides, “for the annual election of Delegates in Congress, with a power reserved to each State to recal its Delegates, or any of them within the Year & to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year— And which also provides, that no person shall be capable of being a Delegate for more than three years in any term of six years, or being a Delegate shall be capable of holding any Office under the United States for which he or any other for his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind”— Ordered that the Secretary serve the aforenamed Delegates, severally, and such others as may hereafter be appointed in their stead with an attested copy of the last foregoing resolve—
Be it enacted by the honorable the senate and house of representatives now met and sitting in general assembly, and by the authority of the same, THAT five commissioners … by virtue of this act. shall be and are hereby authorised as deputies from this state. to meet such deputies or commissioners as may be appointed and authorised by other of the united states, to assemble in convention at the city of Philadelphia in the month of May next after passing this act. or as soon thereafter as may be, and to join with such deputies or commissioners, they being duly authorised and impowered in devising and discussing all such alterations, clauses, articles and provisions as may be thought necessary to render the federal constitution entirely adequate to the actual situation and future good government of the confederated states, and that the said deputies or commissioners, or a majority of those who shall be present, provided the state be not represented by less than two, do join in reporting such an act to the united states in congress assembled, as when approved and agreed to by them, and duly ratified and confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the exigencies of the union.
That the Honble William S. Johnson, Roger Sherman & Oliver Ellsworth Esqrs be, and they hereby are, appointed Delegates to attend the sd Convention, and are requested to proceed to the City of Philadelphia for that Purpose, without Delay, and the said Delegates, and in Case of Sickness or Accident, such one or more of them, as shall actually attend the said Convention, is and are hereby authorized and impowered to represent this State therein, & to confer with such Delegates appointed by the several States, for the Purposes mentioned in the sd Act of Congress, that may be present and duly empowered to act in said Convention, and to discuss upon such Alterations and Provisions, agreeable to the general Principles of Republican Government, as they shall think proper, to render the federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of Government, and the Preservation of the Union; and they are further directed, pursuant to the said Act of Congress, to report such Alterations and Provisions, as may be agreed to, by a Majority of the united States represented in Convention, to the Congress of the United States, and to the General Assembly of this State.
Be it enacted, by the general assembly of Maryland, That the honourable James McHenry, Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francis Mercer, and Luther Martin, Esquires, be appointed and authorised, on behalf of this state, to meet such deputies as may be appointed and authorised by any other of the United States to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, for the purpose of revising the federal system, and to join with them in considering such alterations, and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union, and in reporting such an act for that purpose to the United States in congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several states, will effectually provide for the same; and the said deputies, or such of them as shall attend the said convention, shall have full power to represent this state for the purposes aforesaid; and the said deputies are hereby directed to report the proceedings of the said convention, and any act agreed to therein, to the next session of the general assembly of this
Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in general court convened, that John Langdon, John Pickering, Nicholas Gilman, and Benjamin West Esqrs be, and hereby are, appointed Commissioners; they, or any two of them, are hereby authorized, and impowered, as Deputies from this State to meet at Philadelphia said Convention, or any other place to which the said Convention may be adjourned; for the purposes aforesaid, there to confer with such deputies, as are, or may be appointed by the other States for similar purposes; and with them to discuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remedy the defects of our federal union; and to procure, and secure, the enlarged purposes which it was intended to effect, and to report such an act, to the United States in Congress, as when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several States, will effectually provide for the same—
As the Freemen at large here have the Power of electing Delegates to represent them in Congress, we could not consistantly appoint Delegates in a Convention, which might be the means of dissolving the Congress of the Union and having a Congress without a Confederation.
It is clear by the 12 resolutions empowering delegates and the refusal to do so on the part of Rhode Island that the intended purpose of the Convention was to amend the Articles not replace them but Rhode Island certainly saw the possibility of a greater change. It is also clear that the state legislatures fully expected to have an opportunity to approve or reject the plan that would be produced by the convention.
In reality, the state legislatures’ delegation of authority was their last involvement in the process. We read in the new Constitution, a new rule for ratification:
“The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this constitution between the states so ratifying the same.”
The idea of unanimous consent was abrogated and the several State Legislatures were circumvented in favor of state conventions. Even the argument that the new Constitution was simply an alteration of the Articles of Confederation will not hold water for two reasons: 1) Some of the language in the new Constitution is careful to distinguish between treaties entered into under the Constitution and those entered under the ”Authority of the United States” which draws a distinction and 2) amendments to the Articles of Confederation required “such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State”; a procedure which was not followed.
A new Constitutional Convention could result in a radically altered or new Constitution. There is no way to limit what will happen in Convention and there is no way to predict the mode of ratification that may arise from a new document. The idea that Congress can be bypassed by a Constitutional Convention is also dubious. Article 1 Section 8 clause 18 of the Constitution empowers Congress”
“To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”
It is reasonable to assume, therefore that Congress will attempt to set the time, location and manner in which a proposed convention would be held. They may also deign to determine the method by which delegates would be appointed, pay for service, and other open-ended issues not specifically outlined within the Constitution. The John Birch Society is correct in its assertions. If you value liberty, you should seek alternative routes to that end. Visit http://jbs.org for their recommended alternatives.
The following youtube video may help you to better understand the issue:
Don’t miss out ! Session 1 starts Saturday, April 26 at Noon.
The Constitution Is The Solution for what ails America. Do you feel a sense that our nation is in trouble? Do you feel, as many of your neighbors feel, our nation is moving in the wrong direction? This series examines the original intent and philosophy of limited government espoused by our founding fathers. It shows how our greatness as a nation is linked to our ability to enforce the Constitution and restrain the powers of government. This is not a trivia course. This course will open the Constitution. We will read from its pages, discuss the letters written by our founders which sought to explain its provisions and discuss how it was originally interpreted and applied. Why seek new innovations if we are yet unfamiliar with the sound principles which were responsible for our rise to greatness as a nation?
This course is divided into 6 parts. We will tackle 2 parts in each session. Topics to be discussed include:
1. The dangers of Democracy: A discussion of the various political systems which magnifies the differences between the raw power of Democracy and a Republic. Why our founders looked with dis-favor on pure democracy and how they sought to check the dangers by implementing the “rule of law” in a Republic that would protect individual rights from the fickle whims of mob rule.
2. Enumerated vs. Unlimited Power: A discussion of the two prevailing philosophical views of the Constitution. Is the Constitution a declaration of specifically limited and enumerated powers or an open-ended system of implied and unlimited powers?
3. Economics: What does the constitution have to say on matters of money? What is a dollar? What are the powers of the federal government with regard to the economy? What about the Federal Reserve? What about paper currency vs. hard money? The founders had plenty to say on these questions.
4. The Constitutional War Powers: How does the Constitution treat war? How and why are the war powers split between the Legislative and Executive branches. Why do we fight so many undeclared wars? What is/was the role of the state militias and how did they provide a check against federal abuse of the war powers?
5. Exposing the Enemies of Freedom: Who is working to subvert our Constitution? What enemies do hard-working, law-abiding Americans have to contend with in order to correct abuses of power and re-establish a working Constitution?
6. Restoring the Constitution: Effective Action in programs such as these help to spread awareness and educate the people. It is said that you must know from whence you came in order to know where you are headed. Where are we headed America? Help us lead our nation towards a rebirth in liberty by peacefully restoring the proper understanding and application of our Constitution. “Let us bind men down from mischief by the chains of a Constitution.” — Thomas Jefferson
Admission is free. A freewill offering is to be collected. Google Map: https://www.google.com/maps/place/67+Buck+Rdemail@example.com,-75.0267703,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6ad8f69701051:0x2ad217439d1120a
Lecture Series Resource Page: https://federalexpression.wordpress.com/the-constitution-is-the-solution-resources/
The Free Trade Agenda… It’s not about trade and it certainly is not free !!!
If the Free Trade Agenda is not about Trade, then what is it about?
It is all about convincing a slumbering Congress to transfer it’s responsibility “to regulate trade among the states and with foreign nations” to supra-national councils (aka soviets) that are unelected, appointed bureaucrats. Once accomplished, the American people will lose the ability to influence trade policy through their elected officials and become victimized by new, ever-increasing, far-reaching global trade policies and global enforcement agents. Think the regulatory monstrosity is bad now?
This is all unlawful, mind you.
#1. If Congress is to cede power that is explicitly defined in the Constitution, how can it be accomplished by simple legislation? Would that not be considered an alteration of the Constitution and the checks and balances defined within it? Yet we have allowed NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and other similar agreements to be handled in this slick manner. Shame on us! These people should be forced to attempt these schemes through a proper amendment procedure which would be far more difficult if not impossible to accomplish. The supreme court has held as recently as 1998 “the non-delegation doctrine” in Clinton et al v. City of New York. This ruling cited J.W. Hampton Jr. & Co. v. United States (1928), an opinion of at least 80 years duration.
#2. Assuming an amendment were to open the door to this nefarious activity, isn’t a trade agreement involving other foreign powers a Treaty? As such, a simple law is not suffice. This type of agreement would also need to muster two-thirds vote in the Senate as any other treaty requires.
Now it becomes obvious why the President always seeks “Fast Track” or “Trade Promotion Authority” to sneak these agreements through. Under a fast track or TPA method, the Congress is confined to an up or down vote. Debate is limited if allowed at all and no amendments may be offered. Perhaps POTUS knows that even a minor amount of scrutiny will disclose the unlawful nature of the entire process and the treasonous results of the various agreements.
#3. Is “Fast-Track” or “Trade Promotion Authority” constitutional? Not only did the supreme court uphold “the non-delegation doctrine” it also found that “The Line Item Veto”, which was at the heart of this case, violated the “presentment” clauses. Doesn’t “Fast Track” also violate the presentment clauses?
Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the president of the United States… US Constitution – Article 1 Section 7 clause 3
The truth is, there is no legitimate means by which this type of agreement can be ratified. Trade matters belong to the whole Congress. And agreements among nations belong to the Senate & President. The President & the Senate can not do by treaty that which the entire government is denied by the Constitution itself. Treaties must be pursuant to the Authority of the Constitution. The non-delegation doctrine requires a specific amendment to allow the delegation of trade authority from the Congress to another body. The multiplicity of nations involved in trade agreements would require treaty law. Even after these hurdles would be cleared, there is some doubt as to whether or not a treaty can include non-governmental organizations and multiple nation states. The entire “Free Trade Agenda” is highly irregular.
The European Model
A truly fascinating study of the European Union’s 50 year progression into a supra-national entity reveals that a European “Free Trade Agenda” was at the heart of the entire process. Rumor has it, that the TTIP, The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment partnership seeks direct economic ties between the US and the EU. Why tie our anchor to that sinking ship? The answer is… The “Free Trade Agenda” is not about free trade. The free trade agenda is a cornerstone program for the creation of a new world order. The transformation of America is indeed happening; and it is happening all too quickly!
How is it that free trade requires partnerships? The very use of the word partnership should be a telling signal to Americans that this type of legislation is more about building an International Framework for World Government than establishing “Free Trade”. By the way, is there any guarantee that “free” trade is “fair” trade? A whole host of new questions can be raised once that sentiment is considered.
If you would like to investigate these issues in detail and live in the Philadelphia area, a meeting is being held on April 9, 2014. See the flyer below and pass it around. Share it with your friends and family. The future of our economy and our ability to self-govern is at stake.
Education Resources: Extensive Coverage by The New American Magazine
- Trans Atlantic Danger (TNA Article)
- Secretly Trading Away Our Independence (TNA Article)
- United States of Europe (TNA Prediction)
- CFR Applauds “Sovereignty Subversion” (TNA Article)
- Obama et al push EU-US Merger (TNA Article)
- Download Free Magazine Issue (Download File)
- Obama places US-EU Merger on the Front Burner (Video)
- Download Free Trade Booklet (Download)
Action Resources: You Are The Resistance !!!
- NEW: Educational Tools (pamphlets, reprints, etc) at ShopJBS.org
- Free Trade Promises & Reality (download brochure)
- Real Price of Free Trade (download brochure)
- Not-So-Free Trade (download brochure)
- Help Keep America (download brochure)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing Free Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Quick Federal Letter – Send a letter Opposing Transatlantic Tade & Investment Partnership (TTIP)
- Quick State Letter – Send a letter Opposing Free Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
The Constitution Under Attack **** GET YOUR FREE MAGAZINE ****
Alert! A rather insidious assault on the Constitution has been in progress for many years now in the form of a continual erosion of the rights of the people, the ignoring of checks and balances, the creation of extra-constitutional branches of government and the defiant redefinition of the document itself.
Yet now, as perhaps never before seen, there is a two-fold attack on the United States Constitution which is being perpetrated by both “Conservative” and “Liberal” interests simultaneously under the auspices of Domestic and Foreign Policy. While both political factions tend to oppose one another in these two areas, the solution each faction promotes would ultimately “fundamentally change” America.
A Treasonous Foreign Policy
The Obama Administration is in the process of hammering out two new “Free Trade” agreements in backroom negotiations. The two treaties are the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TPP would establish a partnership in which the United States would join with Pacific rim nations in a regional super-governmental structure in which US domestic law would be brought into conformity with that of the other block members. The TTIP would accomplish much the same with nations in the Atlantic region, namely, the European Union nations. Enforcement of the harmonizing of law amongst these blocks of nations would require new international agencies. One can easily see, that the creation of these new agencies by our Congress would move the responsibility of law making out of the hands of our elected representatives to agency members not directly affected by the will of the voting public. In other words, the people of our nation will have lost its ability to affect legislation in these areas. Furthermore, dispute resolution would necessarily need to be handled in tribunals which represent the interests of the partnerships as a whole. Therefore, American businesses will be subject to the will of non-American or super-national panels without recourse to the national legislature.
It is difficult to discuss exact details of these treaties at this time because the negotiations are closed to Congress and the American people. The secrecy in which these negotiations are being conducted is foreboding. I suppose we have to pass the “Partnerships” to find out what is in them. What we do know is that they are being treated as if they are treaties and we are reminded that Treaty Law supersedes the Constitution. Despite the fact that there is ample evidence to show that treaties are invalid when they attempt to alter the Constitution, much damage has already been done in this manner through NAFTA and the WTO while our domestic courts have ignored these abuses. See the free magazine link below which details what we know at this time.
A Dangerous Domestic Agenda
Meanwhile, in an attempt to arrest the abuses of a run-away federal leviathan in Washington, our “Conservative” leaders are dreaming up new ways to destroy our Constitution. The latest fad is that of the Liberty Amendments being promoted by Mark Levin. This movement is quite insidious and rather ingenious. While the various problems discussed by Mr. Levin are real, genuine concerns, the poison is in the solution. A Constitutional Convention call could accomplish all of the planks of the “Liberal Left” at once, even if it were called by “Conservatives” for the exact opposite intentions. Please understand, I am not opposed to the intentions, the reasoning, or the correction of real abuses. I oppose the method of solution and here is why.
In the United States of America, the sovereign will of the people is the basis for all government. We are reminded in the Declaration of Independence that “…Men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights… That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The methods established within the Constitution to invoke this abolition or altering of the government is the Article V process. One such method is via a Constitutional Convention commonly called a Con-Con. There is a reason this method is not normally used.
Once this process is invoked and delegates are appointed, they would operate with the sovereign power of the people. This raw power must operate outside the confines of the governmental form which they seek to alter or abolish and there is no authority on earth which can restrain it. We are told that the amendments they would seek to establish would require ratification by the existing state governments. Is that a guarantee? No. Theoretically, the existing ratification process could be altered or abolished during this process. We have the historical precedent of the 1787 Constitutional Convention to prove that fact.
When the original 1787 Convention was called, the body was under instruction to alter the Articles of Confederation and the ratification process was specified to require unanimous consent of the 13 state legislatures. Rather than alter the existing document as instructed, they wrote an entirely new document. Read the document they gave us:
“The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.”
What happened to the unanimous consent requirement?
So, I caution my fellow countrymen. Do not be so gullible as to accept these assurances. There are no assurances. Ask yourself a simple question. In a country in which its leaders refuse to obey the contract of government, what makes our “Conservative” leadership believe that new amendments will be obeyed? The solution to America’s woes ultimately come down to the American people having the will to enforce the Constitution as it is written and as it is intended. That need will still exist regardless of how many amendments we pass.
Preserve The Constitution
The primary goal of all Americans must be to preserve the Constitution. For as long as this document stands as a bulwark against dictatorship, we have recourse to it. We have the ability to enforce it. If we allow either the “Left” to Supersede it via dangerous regional partnerships or the “Right” to alter it through convention, all bets are off. So, all men of good will need the Constitution. Our course of action is simple: Defend it and enforce it!
- How The Free Trade Agenda is Knocking down America (Full New American Magazine vol 29 no 17)
- America’s Voice Now Youtube Program November 2013 Part 1
- America’s Voice Now Youtube Program October 2013 Part 2
- America’s Voice Now Youtube Program October 2013
- America’s Voice Now Youtube Program August 2013
- Preserve Your Rights – Stop the “Free Trade” Agenda
- The “Free Trade” Agenda Threatens Our Rights
- Levin, Limbaugh, Hannity Calling for Con-Con
- Mark Levin’s Dangerous Constitutional Convention Proposal
- More About Levin’s Dangerous Con-Con Proposal
- Wrap-up Regarding Levin’s Dangerous Con-Con Proposal
- Not-So-Free Trade (Printable Brochure) Great Mailing Stuffer
- Real Price of Free Trade (Printable Brochure) Great Mailing Stuffer
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Nullification is not only a legitimate remedy against federal over-reach, it is the rightful remedy and the only peaceful solution that was specifically endorsed by both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. So, the author of our Constitution and the author of the Declaration of Independence agree. Each State must act as the final arbiter when the three branches of the federal government refuse to acknowledge the limits placed upon it by the several states. One need not seek permission within the Constitution to uphold the Compact. Like any other contract, the parties involved have a duty to ensure that it is adhered to. The supremacy of federal law does not apply to legislative acts which are, in themselves, unlawful. Such acts should not be dignified with the title of law.
Specific Nullification Measure in Pennsylvania
Support Pennsylvania House Bill 357, the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, which seeks to establish that “any Federal law which attempts to register, restrict or ban a firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm in this Commonwealth shall be unenforceable in this Commonwealth; and imposing penalties.”
The Right to Bear Arms Protection Act (RBAPA) would nullify any new federal restrictions, whether passed by Congress or by presidential executive order, on firearms and/or magazine clips. Included in the RBAPA are criminal penalties on federal agents attempting to enforce any such federal restrictions and/or attempting to confiscate firearms or magazines. Washington’s anti-gun laws would not just be null and void in Pennsylvania, but attempts to enforce them within the state’s borders would be illegal.
In recent years dozens of states have introduced nullification-type legislation to stop Real ID, affirm the Tenth Amendment, reject a federal mandate to buy healthcare insurance, and to reject federal firearm laws for guns manufactured, sold, and used intrastate (known as Firearms Freedom Acts or FFA). In 2012 a total of eight states passed FFAs.
Contact The PA General Assembly: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/contact.cfm?body=H
Contact the PA Senate Requesting companion legislation be introduced into the Senate: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/contact.cfm?body=S
Note JULY-SEPT: The Legislature reconvenes September 23, 2013. Correspondence should concentrate on local office addresses and it is a good time for local office visits.
The Case For Nullification
States Should Enforce The Constitution Not Revise It !
State vs. Federal: Nullification
Nullification by Thomas E. Woods (Book Review)
State Nullification Bills Flourish in 2012
States’ Rights: The Foundation of Federalism
About John C. Calhoun
My Earlier Blog Posts:
In order to understand the notion of Nullification or Interposition, it is helpful to know some history regarding the establishment of the American Colonies and how they came to be Independent Sovereign Nations. It is this sovereignty that is exercised when nullifying federal “law”. Here follows a much abbreviated summary of the major colonies of America, the origins of their Sovereignty, their jealous desire to maintain that Sovereignty, and a look at the major clauses and constructs used in their legislation to protect their Sovereignty:
Originally, all of the American territory was referred to as Virginia. The name was derived from Queen Elizabeth, the virgin queen. The first English child born on American soil was Virginia Dare. She was the child born of Ananias and Ellinor Dare of Roanoke Island in 1587. In 1606, charters were formed establishing the London and Plymouth Companies. These companies financed the settlement of “Virginia”. Plymouth Company was assigned Northern Virginia (Ultimately New England) and London Company was assigned lands proximate to the Chesapeake Bay. The Plymouth Company first attempted a colony in what is present day Maine, however that attempt was short-lived. The London Company settled in Jamestown along the James River and cultivated the first permanent settlement in what is now the United States.
From approximately 1619 through 1639, Virginia established legislative assemblies to represent the various plantations (aka settlements) and to govern along side the Governor. These assemblies ultimately developed into the House of Burgesses. This experience laid the initial format by which British Colonies would be organized and run. The colonies would establish their own laws. Their laws would reflect English law. The Colony would be an economic benefit to the Mother Country.
In 1620, the Plymouth Company settled in Massachusetts. Apparently they settled further north than their charter had designated and so a new charter was drafted in 1629. After initial hardships the colony was eventually able to produce enough to buy out their English benefactors and establish a degree of independence.
In 1629, The Massachusetts Bay Company obtained a Royal Charter from the King. The Puritans had been under persecution by King Charles I and the opportunity to flee to America was popular amongst them. The Royal Charter was slightly different from earlier charters in that it did not stipulate that the company must meet in England. Both the charter and the company migrated to America and operated independent of the crown. So the two most prominent settlements in early New England had early established a tremendous degree of self-determination.
The Puritan influence within the Massachusetts Bay Colony government was ripe for dissent. Dissidents were often exiled, and a series of new colonies resulted in this fashion.
Connecticut was established in 1639 with the drafting of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. This was an off-shoot of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and is credited as being the first written Constitution in the New World.
Providence and Rhode Island Plantations
Likewise, Roger Williams was exiled from Massachusetts and established Providence in 1636, while Anne Hutchinson settled her splinter group in Rhode Island. In 1663, these settlements were united.
The charter for Maryland was issued to the Calvert family. They were Catholics and deigned to provide a haven for the Catholic faith in the Americas. Prospects for Catholic settlers were limited, so the predominant settlers were of the protestant sect. Maryland was settled as a feudal society. Cecilius Calvert was Lord Baltimore and had ultimate governing rights but was restricted in that the laws of Maryland would need to reflect British law. Manors were established with courts and freeholders, taxing privileges, etc. Maryland established religious toleration among Christian denominations.
New York and New Jersey (aka New Netherlands)
The Dutch actually established the first settlements in present day New York and New Jersey. The English considered Holland to be intruders. It was not until 1664 when King Charles II granted land rights to the Duke of York that England laid claim to New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut. The stipulation, however, was that the Duke would need to wrest control of the area from the Dutch. He allowed the Dutch to retain their property, allowed religious tolerance, gave his Connecticut land grant back to the Puritans who had settled it and split New Jersey from New York.
Pennsylvania & Delaware
William Penn was granted the colony that became known as Pennsylvania by King Charles II. The Duke of York ceded a portion of his land grant to William Penn which would ultimately become Delaware. Early Pennsylvania colonists were Swedes, Dutch, Danes and some Puritans from New Haven. The Quakers were an off-shoot of the Puritans and highly persecuted in England. Pennsylvania established religious toleration.
North and South Carolina plus a portion of Georgia were granted to eight proprietors of Nobility. Settlement was slow and great distance lay between the primary settlements in the north and south. The result was that the government of these two colonies remained distinct throughout their development.
The settlement of Georgia might best be described as a royal boondoggle. The initial grant went to 20 proprietors who operated the settlement as a philanthropic (non-profit) venture. The legislature in England appropriated subsidies repeatedly and the proprietors lost interest in the failed venture even before the 21 year charter had expired. Georgia became a Crown Colony and lost most of its population as dissatisfied settlers migrated to other settlements in neighboring colonies where they found laws more favorable and advantageous.
The Sovereign States
In June of 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed the famous Lee Resolution in which we find a declaration of Sovereignty of the individual states. Recognizing that these small states would require foreign alliances (Foreign Aid) to battle the world’s leading military power, a confederacy was proposed that would assist the various states in the prevention of their becoming prey to the foreign nations which may provide the needed aid. Until this time, hostilities between Great Britain and the Colonists were centered on a defense against tyranny with the hope of reconciliation.
Resolution introduced in the Continental Congress by Richard Henry Lee (Virginia) proposing a Declaration of Independence, June 7, 1776
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
The Declaration of Independence was drafted as proposed and its preamble further defines this Sovereignty.
Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
The preamble clearly defines the Sovereignty of these independent states as separate and equal to that state with whom they are separating. In other words, Virginia was a state in the same sense as the State of Great Britain. This concept is further reiterated in the summation at the end of the document in which we find:
Declaration of Independence
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 of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
Now in order to make this declaration stick, the War for Independence was fought. In the course of this war, the colonies exercised all these rights. They levied war, they contracted alliances, they traded amongst themselves and with foreign nations, and finally concluded a peace. As victors in the war they obtained a confirmation of their declaration from the Crown itself in which all the principle parties were named:
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.
Roughly 18 months prior to this peace Treaty, the Articles of Confederation which Lee had proposed was ratified. The colonies maintained their sovereignty within this confederacy which they dubbed: “The United States of America”.
Articles of Confederation : March 1, 1781
I. The Stile of this Confederacy shall be “The United States of America”.
II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
So, there can be no doubt that the 13 original colonies operated as independent sovereign states from the time of its official declaration in 1776 thru the war for independence and all the years up until 1789 under the Article of Confederation. All that is left to demonstrate is that the states retained their sovereignty when the Constitution was ratified. If this can be established, then the states which are party to the Constitution may rightfully exercise that sovereignty in the face of federal overreach and abuse of power.
Sovereignty Retained in the Ratification of the Constitution
Naturally, in order to establish a more perfect union, the Articles of Confederation required amendment and the states felt compelled to relinquish some degree of autonomy. A study of the constitution and the convention itself demonstrates the struggle that the representatives of the various states under went in their attempt to determine how much power to delegate to a central government. The key to understanding that the states intended to retain sovereignty is in the language they used in drafting the instrument. They used words such as “granted”, “enumerated”, “delegated”, etc.. The preamble lists the 6 reasons for adopting the constitution:
The Preamble of the Constitution
We, the people of the United States,
- in order to form a more perfect Union,
- establish justice,
- insure domestic tranquility,
- provide for the common defense,
- promote the general welfare,
- and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Article I defines the power of Congress. It starts by establishing that all Legislative Powers, herein granted, are vested in a Congress of the United States… Then it defines the congress as being bicameral, or consisting of two parts, a House and a Senate. So we know that federal law will be made only by the congress. We also know that the use of the term “herein granted” indicates that there are legislative powers not granted to the congress, that is, reserved by the states. In section 8 of Article I there are 18 specifically enumerated (granted) powers. Section 10 of Article I lists specific areas in which the states have agreed not to exercise certain powers and to avoid certain abuses of power which were once suffered under the British Crown. In order to agree not to exercise certain powers, they obviously have authority to do these things, but are delegating this power to the central government with the exception of the few clauses prohibiting abuses of power which I will place in bold. These voluntary restrictions are:
1. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
2. No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.
3. No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in a war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
The Constitution, itself, then further recognizes the Sovereignty of the several states in Article IV when it states:
Article IV Section 4
The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union, a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.
During the ratification process, several state delegations debated the potential effectiveness of this proposed constitution. Those in favor were referred to as Federalists. Those opposed were referred to as anti-Federalists. Those in opposition feared that the constitution delegated too much authority to the central government. Others, jealous of the liberty they won, wanted no central government at all. It was agreed that a Bill of Rights should be added to the Constitution describing specific rights which the people retained as a sentinel to awake a slumbering populace in the event of future overreach by the new government. Some of the federalists were against this idea, because they saw no reason to list prohibitions against actions which were not enumerated in the document and feared that listing them might enable abuses against rights not listed in the Bill of Rights. The ninth and tenth amendments were added in order to overcome this potential trap. The ninth and tenth amendments tell us a great deal about the relationship between the states and the general government, reaffirm the sovereignty of the states, and describe how the entire document is to be viewed. The ninth deals with the problem of enumerating only a short list of rights, clarifying that other rights not listed are also protected.
Ninth Amendment to The United States Constitution
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The tenth amendment is extremely instructive. It demonstrates that the scope of the power of the new government is constrained by the 18 specifically delegated powers in Article I section 8 and the list of prohibitions in Article 1 section 10; the very clauses already discussed above.
Tenth Amendment to The United States Constitution
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.
The General Welfare Clause
The term “general welfare” is often used to justify the expansion of federal power. An honest look at the use of this construction within the document itself illustrates that this term is used as a descriptor not a grant of power. “General Welfare” is used twice in the United States Constitution. First it appears in the preamble as a goal or reason for the adoption of the instrument, namely to “promote the general welfare”. This term “general welfare” is opposed to the welfare of a specific state. In other words, the goal is to operate a general government in which the welfare of all the states may be promoted. The government must not be exercised as a means to gain advantage for one state at the expense of another. In Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 1 we see the term again:
The Congress shall have the power To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States …
Once again, “general welfare” is used to describe the reason for taxation and tariffs, namely the welfare of all the states, as opposed to the benefit of one specific state over another. Anyone familiar with the history of the Article of Confederation, knows that tariffs were not always universally beneficial to all states. This same issue would be revisited under the Constitution in the years leading up to our Civil War.
The Necessary and Proper Clause
Another clause that has been used to expand federal power is the “necessary and proper clause”. This clause is found in Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 18:
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
It has been argued that the Congress can legislate in areas it deems necessary and proper. This is a weak argument indeed. If one reads this carefully, one is struck by the fact that the necessary and proper clause is immediately constrained by the phrase “for carrying into execution the foregoing powers” and it speaks of “vested powers“. Clearly, this clause is not an expansion of power. It is simply a descriptive clause that seeks to illustrate why certain laws may be written.
The Commerce Clause
The commerce clause has been stretched beyond recognition in an attempt to justify the 20th century welfare state. In order to understand what the commerce clause says, we should look at the definition of the word “commerce” at the time of ratification to guard against adopting a more modern sense of the term. Then we can place it within it’s context and make some general conclusions.
Noah Webster’s 1828 Definition of “Commerce“:
- In a general sense, an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals, either by barter, or by purchase and sale; trade; traffick. Commerce is foreign or inland. Foreign commerce is the trade which one nation carries on with another; inland commerce, or inland trade, is the trade in the exchange of commodities between citizens of the same nation or state. Active commerce.
- Intercourse between individuals; interchange of work, business, civilities or amusements; mutual dealings in common life.
- Familiar intercourse between the sexes.
- Interchange; reciprocal communications; as, there is a vast commerce of ideas.
- To traffick; to carry on trade.
- To hold intercourse with.
And looks commercing with the skies
Noah Webster wrote his dictionary to capture the definitions of the words in use at the time of the ratification of the Constitution. He understood that a language is alive and he wanted to preserve the meaning of words at that point in time so that posterity would have recourse in determining the actual intent of the Constitution. In his amended 1828 version, the final version he personally compiled, we find commerce as a noun and as a verb. The commerce clause uses the word commerce as a noun. The very first definition that Noah Webster provides is sufficient. “an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals, either by barter, or by purchase and sale; trade; traffick.”
The Commerce Clause: Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 3
The Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes:
Now, lets look at the context in which this word is used. It is now obvious that the framers intended that the commerce clause apply to trade among the states. The Indian Tribes were Sovereign Nations as are Foreign Nations and also the states as parties to this constitution are Sovereigns. A domestic application of this clause beyond the regulation of the manner in which the states treat each other in matters of trade is an abuse of the original intent of the clause. Those who would justify the regulatory monstrosity that is directed by the executive branch of our government are either misguided or ill intentioned.
The Supremacy Clause
Finally, we are told that states cannot defy federal law because federal law is Supreme. Well, in a certain sense this is true, however, nullification does not promote defying federal law. It promotes the nullification of attempts at law. In other words, nullification is the process by which states refuse to adhere to an invalid legislative act. The state is declaring that no law exists because it is an attempt to exercise power not delegated. Here is the Supremacy Clause:
The “Supremacy Clause ” of the U.S. Constitution is contained in Article VI:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
First let us demonstrate that there are two different constitutions mentioned in this clause. It opens with the term “This Constitution” which refers to the Constitution of the United States. It also mentions near the end: any Thing in “the Constitution” or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. “the Constitution” is referring to individual state constitutions. So the clause clearly states that federal law trumps state law, but the terms “made in Pursuance thereof” and “under the Authority of the United States” serve to illustrate that the legislative act must be legitimate in order for it to be supreme. A legislative act which is null or un-Constitutional, is not a law and cannot hold the status of Supremacy.
If one wishes to understand more fully how the colonist viewed legislative acts, I recommend reading the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress of October 14, 1774. It illustrates clearly, that lawful bodies do not always act lawfully and that free men are duty bound to Petition their Government for a Redress of Grievances and to nullify unlawful acts and even take up arms when necessary to correct abuses. Since these United States are organized into free Republics, our first and rightful remedy is for our States to interpose on our behalf and nullify unlawful acts of Congress.