Feb 112010

A movement is growing in the U.S. This movement, unlike the Tea Party or attempts to socialize medicine or any other political movement, has the support of the Constitution.

Many states have been exerting their 10th Amendment rights, however, Wyoming has fired the first shot with teeth.

Many misperceptions about the Constitution exist. One of the most egregious misperceptions comes from the intent of the Constitution.

Most rational people see the Constitution as the framers intended it, a written instruction manual for how to run the federal government: as a government acting for the overall good of the states, rather than as a higher level of central government.

Unfortunately for us, within a few generations of the ratification of the Constitution, politicians had already infested a system designed for leaders. One truth about politicians: they will twist words and interpret meanings however they can to further their agenda.

It was by that tactic the federal government began exceeding its authority, particularly under the auspices of the welfare clause and the commerce clause.

The welfare clause reads, “The Congress shall have Power To … provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.”

The commerce clause says verbatim, “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States.”

Now politicians generally abuse the welfare clause to pass new social programs because politicians have no desire to distinguish between “United States” and “the people.” I have to hope you recognize the difference.

Just in case you fail to see the difference, “general Welfare of the United States,” was written to address the needs of the state governments that were forming the union, not their populations. You see, the founders designed the system so the only central government in your life was the government of your state, not an oligarchy 2,000 miles away.

The commerce clause has been abused like a Tijuana donkey. In case you missed any of the misuse, Congress has used its bastardized interpretation of the commerce clause to enact anything prevented by the annoyingly restrictive text of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, the limit on Congress’ power.

Why are these civics lessons necessary you might ask? The growing movement to which I referred at the beginning of my column is an expanding movement by the states to exert their sovereign authority under the 10th Amendment.

The 10th Amendment states, “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 developing movement involves states exerting their unequivocal constitutional right to tell the federal government to butt out. Several states have passed “Firearms Freedom Acts.”

These FFAs declare all firearms manufactured, sold and owned within the state as exempt from federal law. This means the federal government has no say in sales or taxes on those firearms.

Typically, these acts have been declarations with no real teeth. That changed this week.

Our sister state to the north, Wyoming, passed a delightful version of their own FFA. What I find particularly appealing is their callback to founding father James Madison’s opinion on interposition, that is, the states have the right to interpose against intrusions upon their sovereign authority.

Wyoming House Bill 95 states, “Any official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both.”

For those lacking an understanding of legalese, if a federal agent were to violate this state law –– if it ends up as law –– the agent would be charged as a felon.

Wyoming, I applaud your rightful application of interposing. Let us hope the trend continues.

Seth J. Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His reasonable distrust of the federal government fills space Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:06 pm

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