Thursday, March 05, 2009

States’ Sovereignty Granted by the US Constitution

States’ Sovereignty Granted by the US Constitution
By J. D. Longstreet
Every so often an issue comes along that continues to nag at me until it precipitates some sort of action. The “State Sovereignty Movement” has done that.

As I have observed over the past weeks and months the “State Sovereignty Movement” continues to sweep the nation with very nearly half the fifty states taking action through their respective state legislatures, I have become uneasy that I have not seen, nor heard, of any action emanating from the NC General Assembly.

I did a little research, on the web, and learned that the silence I sensed from Raleigh was just that… silence. So far, North Carolina has not taken up the matter, at least in public.

So, being a good citizen, I decided that I ought to draw the attention of my State Representative and my State Senator to the “State Sovereignty Movement” and, while I was at it, the Governor of the Great State of North Carolina, as well. I patched together a letter and sent it by e-mail to all three. Below is the text of that letter:

Dear Representative, Senator, and Governor of North Carolina:

As you know, a number of states in the US are re-asserting their state’s sovereignty under the 9th and 10th Amendments to the US Constitution as a means to stop or, at least retard, the uncontrolled expansion of the federal government’s power. As of this writing nearly half of the nation’s state legislatures are considering, or have representatives actually preparing to introduce, resolutions in their respective state legislatures, which re-assert the principles of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the US Constitution and, in particular, the idea that federal power is strictly limited to specific areas which are detailed in the Constitution and that all other governmental authority rests with the states.

It is my firm belief that the balance of power in this nation has tilted much too far, and for entirely too long, toward the federal government and I believe it is now time for the states to begin a restoration of that balance.

Please do not misunderstand. This is not a movement toward secession. I have no wish for such an end. My ancestors tried that and suffered greatly for it, as did this state. I have no interest in secession… at all.

Here is the gist of it: I am of the belief that the Founding Fathers of this country intended a balance of power between the states and the federal government. Their writings make it clear they did. For Instance, James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote: ”The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.” (From “The Federalist”)

I only suggest it is time for the State of North Carolina to re-assert her rights and tell the federal government enough is enough. We have had our fill of “unfunded mandates” and run away federal government. It is time, I believe, to tell the federal government that the state of North Carolina is tired of the US Congress passing legislation which dictates policy to North Carolina, and handing that policy down from Washington without adequate federal funding and with the federal government expecting, and intending, that the treasury of North Carolina bear the cost of those programs. Oftimes, those unfunded programs, are programs, which the people of the state of North Carolina had no real say, no real input, in approving. It is, I believe, time to tell the federal government to cease and desist mandates that are beyond the scope of it’s constitutionally delegated powers. Further, I believe the state of North Carolina should insist, as does the state of Arizona, 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, be prohibited or repealed.

The “State Sovereignty Movement” is sweeping the nation with some twenty states demanding the federal government operate within the powers granted it by the US Constitution. I am given to understand that Oklahoma, Washington, Hawaii, Missouri, Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, California, Michigan, and Montana will all, definitely, consider sovereignty bills this year. Some say there is a good chance they will be joined by Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Legislators in those latter states have pledged to introduce similar bills this year.

I respectfully ask that you consider introducing/supporting a State Sovereignty Resolution in the NC Legislature this session. You know the budget constraints this state is suffering and you know the federal government is making it worse, not better, and, too, the current administration is likely to hand down even more unfunded mandates in the months just ahead.

I submit, Sir/Madam, the people of the state of North Carolina are frustrated with the federal government’s dictating how North Carolina spends her money. It is time, indeed, I believe past time, for the Tar Heel State to stand up for her rights, granted under the US Constitution, and demand that the federal government begin acting as the agent of the people of the states as the US Constitution intended and made clear.

I respectfully submit this concern as a citizen of the great state of North Carolina.

I have the good fortune to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

So far, as of this writing, I have had an acknowledgement of receipt of the e-mailed letter only by the Governor’s office. It is entirely possible, and indeed, probable, that I will only hear about this from my Representative and my Senator the next time we meet. As we all three live in the same very small county it happens.

I mentioned in the letter that nearly half the states had taken, or were expecting to take, some sort of action soon on State Sovereignty. Later, I stumbled across a site that said some 31 states are committed to, or claiming to be, involved (to some degree) in the State Sovereignty Movement. If true, that is heartening.

There is no doubt the states have been relegated to second-class citizenship in the US. That is just WRONG!

I took a look in my crystal ball and, for the life of me, I could see no indication of the effect the sovereignty movement will have on future relations between the states and their “agent”… the federal government. Only time will tell.

However, I must tell you, it does this old southern boy’s heart good to see “State’s Rights” again brought to the fore in the United States.

As with all Americans we “Southerners” get a lot of things wrong. But we have been right on the issue of “State’s Rights” all along. See, southerners had a bit more than just a signature invested in the creation of the Constitution, itself. There was never any doubt, in our minds, about who “the greater” and who “the lesser” was/is in this association of states and federal government. I must tell you, I am more than a little pleased to find the names of several northern and western states, and even northeastern states, included in the list of the names of the states involved in the State Sovereignty Movement.

Washington would do well to take notice, serious notice, of this movement. The Congress and the President may have forgotten, but it is “the boss” filing this complaint. It is very easy to sit in Washington and spend North Carolina’s money, or the money of the folks from Texas or Oklahoma. But, believe me when I tell you that we have been paying attention and we do not like having our state’s treasuries looted by a heavy-handed federal government.

The current Congress would do well to read up on the “Ordinance of Nullification” passed by my home state of South Carolina in 1828. You can read it for yourself HERE. Suffice it to say State Sovereignty is NOT a NEW issue in this country. It appears we will have to visit it yet again.

J. D. Longstreet



  1. I don't consider it semantics to maintain the Constitution was created by the people through their representatives. The creation cannot grant to the creator.

    We were sovereign before the alliance was entered into. Nowhere in the Constitution is the fed authorized to grant sovereignty to its creators.

    Grants of delegated, enumerated authority are made to the federal government, not the other way around.

    This is borne out by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Anything we don't give them permission for is ours and off-limits to them.

    At least that's the way it is supposed to work.

  2. There is always the option of Succession from the Union. The last time this was tried it didn't work. But then again we didn't have Obama as the POTUS. He wants to be the next Lincoln, you know what that actually means.