Federal Nullification

The Second Amendment And States’ Rights

This past Wednesday night, the Missouri legislature passed a series of bills during a late night session.  One of these late night bills was aimed directly at the federal government.  It is a bill that is designed to “protect” the residents of Missouri of their Second Amendment rights from the federal government.  The bill states that all federal gun laws are banned within the state and enforcement of such laws is a misdemeanor.  Residents would also be allowed to openly carry any gun that is 16-inches or smaller.  It allows for school districts to designate certain teachers and administrators the right to carry a gun on school property.  If a teacher or administrator does not carry a gun and has been designated to do so, that person can be terminated.  School officials can also detain anyone they believe is violating the law for up to four-hours before they have to turn the person over to the authorities.

SecessionSCThe first bit I’ve written about several times in the past.  States cannot nullify federal laws (or the US Constitution).  It’s fairly simple.  Here’s how it sets up… local, county, state, federal, US Constitution.  Each step is above the one before it.  Local can’t nullify county.  County can’t nullify state.  State can’t nullify federal.  And nothing can nullify the US Constitution.  Now each level is supposed to have limited powers.  Even the US Constitution sets the limited powers of the federal government and our rights as citizens.  If the federal government has passed legislation that violates its powers under the US Constitution, it is not up to the states to nullify the legislation.  The state must challenge it in the courts, and it is up to the courts to decide whether the law is unconstitutional or not.  Nullification has been tried again and again throughout our history, and it has not worked.  One of the earliest nullification “crisis” this country face came in 1828 under President Andrew Jackson.  The main disagreement at this time was over tariffs.  Critics of the tariff claimed that the tariff on manufactured goods being imported from Europe made them more expensive than goods manufactured in the US.  Southern politicians claimed that it benefited the northern states at the expense of the southern ones.  South Carolina, along with Vice-President Calhoun, declared that it had the right to nullify the tariff legislation of 1828 and any federal law that went against its interest.  President Jackson, being a southerner, sympathized with the South in the tariff debate but also believed in a strong union.  He threatened to send federal troops to South Carolina to enforce the laws, and even threatened to hang Vice-President Calhoun.  In December 1832, President Jackson proclaimed, “the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”

In 1999, voters in the state of Missouri narrowly rejected “conceal and carry.”  However, the state legislature overrode the will of the voters in 2003 and passed it.  This is not the only time the state legislature of Missouri has overridden a ballot initiative that the voters have rejected.  Now the legislature in this bill is going a step further now and stating that we can openly carry any gun that is 16-inches or less.  Is law enforcement actually going to measure the length of someone’s gun?  Yes, it means you can’t openly carry a shotgun around but case in point with any handgun.  St. Louis is usually ranked near the top of the violent cities list (whether it’s accurate or not is debatable).  However, you still can’t turn on the news at night without seeing reports of someone being shot.  How does this solve the violence that plagues the city?  More people walking around with guns… openly walking around with guns… and not all of them have gone through a background check.  It honestly does not make me feel any safer.  During the debate in the House, Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) stated, “I bet those folks in Boston wish they had guns in their home when terrorists were running around with bombs.”  The logical question to ask is what would this have accomplished.  Just because the FBI is looking for someone (even someone guilty of a bombing) doesn’t mean they have the right person.  Are we going to become a vigilante society?  Are we going to go out and hunt down anyone the FBI says committed a crime before we have answers or even know if we even have the right person.  In a point I raised in an earlier article, we don’t always have the right suspect.  My example is the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.  The FBI zeroed in on one guy.  The media dragged this guy through the mud.  And yet, it was later discovered that he was not the right person.  The right person was later found and is now in prison.  However, an innocent man was still trashed, his life was disrupted, and if it happened today, we as a society would ready to lynch this person.  Now in the case of Boston, someone could have used a gun to keep the suspect(s) at bay or even protect one’s self in the event that it was threatened directly… until proper law enforcement could get there.  It’s not as if Massachusetts doesn’t have a “conceal and carry” law and that citizens don’t have the right to own a gun there.  It’s considered a “may-issue” state wherein it is usually left to local authorities.  Rural Massachusetts is permissive, but Boston is restrictive.  That doesn’t mean people can’t own a gun there.  They just don’t have the same freedoms as people in rural Massachusetts.  Even with this, it makes Rep. Funderburk’s argument completely baseless.

Moving to the school issue, I’m not really trying to debate whether having armed personnel in schools is a good or bad idea.  I’m not sure if selecting teachers to arm themselves is a good idea.  This legislation is a direct result of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Is this what society is coming to?  That we have to have guns around us 24/7 in order to feel safe anywhere.  I could maybe see an armed guard or even an administrator, but not the teachers.  And if we are going to put armed personnel in schools, then we need to make sure they are heavily trained and go through thorough background checks.  The part of this particular legislation that gets to me the most, though, is that a person can be fired for not bringing a gun if they are selected to be one of those that is supposed to bring one.  What if someone is selected even though they object to it or they don’t already own one?  Is the school going to pay for this person to purchase a gun in order for them to keep their job?  Somehow I see this argument boiling down to taxes.  Most school districts wouldn’t be able to afford hiring armed personnel.  Arming teachers and administrators probably wouldn’t cost any additional funds, but there are problems that need to be worked out with that.  Teachers, of all things though, should be more focused on teaching and less about being armed.  Last time I checked, they aren’t law enforcement officers.  As for the school district having the right to hold anyone they suspect of breaking the law for 4-hours before they contact law enforcement, I have to ask if that only pertains to adults or are the students included in this.  Minors cannot be questioned without a parent or guardian present.  That is unlawful.  And questioning for 4-hours, what are they?  The FBI?   I could see some initial questions being asked, but law enforcement should be contacted within the hour if there is a legitimate threat or someone is breaking the law.  Again, I stress that it is not up to the school to become law enforcement.

Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R-Washington) posted on his Facebook page, “Tonight (Wed) was an historic night for Missouri and her citizens.  Our private property rights, our court system, and the assertion of our 2nd amendment rights were all impacted positively by the final passage of three of my 2013 Bills!”  Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) replied by stating, “I don’t know why this body continues to turn its back and make fun of gun violence victims. It’s not a funny matter. I don’t find it amusing.”  Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the legislature.  Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has not yet stated whether he will sign the bill or not.  However, if the bill comes law either by Governor Nixon’s signature or a veto override may be inconsequential since it is likely to be challenged in court.  US Attorney General Eric Holder warned the state of Kansas last week that their new law that states that federal gun laws do not apply to guns within the state is unconstitutional.  It would seem the Missouri law would face this same test.  Again I stress that a state cannot nullify a federal law merely challenge a federal law’s constitutionality in the court system.  And should a person be terminated from their job simply because they invoke their right not to own a gun?  In this completely separate issue, I think the state of Missouri, in their attempt to prop-up the right to own a gun, has stepped on the right not to own one.  We are not a vigilante society.  We are not a lynch mob justice system.  We have the right to own a gun to protect ourselves.  Law abiding citizens can easily pass a background check and own the firearm of their choice.  This is not in debate.  But we do not have the right to take law enforcement or justice into our own hands.  We are not mob rule.  We are a society based on laws… laws that make sense.

SIDENOTE:
Sen. Nieves referenced three bills in his quote.  I only discussed one of them on here.

This is the first blog entry that also appears in the new InDeclaration column on IVN.  Articles now appear on both sites.

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Union Dissolved

Since Obama won reelection a week ago, the White House website has been flooded with petitions from citizens in various states wanting their states to secede from the union.  It is important to note that these are not official petitions by the state governments but rather petitions started by individual citizens.

The threat of secession is nothing new in the United States.  It seems that after any election, people want their states to secede so that they don’t have to live under a leader they didn’t elect, but the threat goes even farther than that… even farther than the most infamous case of secession, the Civil War.  After we had won our war of independence from Great Britain, each state was alone but together.  They realized that they needed to come together to form a union of states, but that was the tricky part as each state (and each citizen of those states) was loyal only unto itself.  During the Constitutional Convention, southern states threatened to walk out and form their own union if the northern states tried to interfere with the institution of slavery… though the compromises that were reached only delayed the inevitable.  During the War of 1812, the New England states threatened to secede and sign a peace treaty with Great Britain on their own since they didn’t agree with the war itself and it was hurting their local economies the hardest.  Even western states and territories have even threatened secession.  California threatened it had it not been allowed to draw its own borders… which it did to make sure that the large amounts of gold deposits that had been discovered would fall within the state.

Some might claim politics being the latest reason.  The majority of the states that have started the petitions are from states that were anti-Obama (or pro-Romney), but there are several pro-Obama states that are still mixed in.  The petitions have to garner so many signatures before the White House will even given them a fair hearing.  Unlike the pre-Civil War days, a state cannot just secede.  The federal government would have to approve such an ordeal, and despite how many signatures these petitions receive, it is very unlikely to happen.  Some might say let that state or another state go if it so chooses to do so, but that’s not who we are as a nation.  We are a nation that is diverse as we are large.  We all share the common theme that we are all Americans… even when we don’t agree on everything.  This latest move is nothing more than some partisan extremists going off the deep-end about things because their candidate lost and it has hit the media cycle for the first time.  As it is has before, this will just pass by.

The state of Texas is leading the way with its petition.  As of Tuesday afternoon, it had garnered over 77,000 signatures.  To put that into perspective, the total population of Texas is 25.7-million.  The signatures of the petition in no way show what the majority wish to do in the state.  And also, anyone can sign the petition… even if they don’t live in the state they are signing for.  So for example, a person in Wyoming could sign a petition for the state of Colorado to secede, and they can even sign for multiple states.  So again, these signatures are just a small little drop in a vast lake.

The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights, such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.

The Texas petition is correct that the federal government has moved well beyond what our Founding Fathers had envisioned for our nation.  Some of the changes have been good over the years… and even some necessary.  But in these times, under both Democratic and Republican leadership, our leaders seem to go out of their ways to stomp on our founding document.  But secession isn’t the answer to all of this.  We need to do it collectively as an entire nation.  Several of the other states quote the Declaration of Indepdence in their petition:

As the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:

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.

… 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 abolish it, and institute new Government …

Like Jefferson wrote, when the government is no longer subservient to the people and working for the betterment of those people, then it’s up to the people to cast it off and to start again.  Maybe we are getting to that stage, and maybe we aren’t.  That’s not for me to say.  But one thing is clear, we must do it as one people and as a nation and not as separate states, and it should only come after exhausting every other possible to bring about change.  Dissolving our union would only hurt us in more ways than we realize.  And though the White House may actually have to respond to at least the Texas petition, again, Texas (or any other state) will not be allowed to secede from the union.  It would set a dangerous precedent, and no President wants to be responsible for the breakup of a union we once fought to keep together.  Though we reside in our individual states and take pride in them, we still identify with being Americans, and that pride usually runs a lot deeper.  Instead of just pointing fingers of blame or threatening to take the easy way out with secession, maybe we should all just sit down, read our own history to see how we got here and start making the necessary corrections to get us back on track… and making sure that we follow our founding documents.

SIDENOTE:
The other states that have online petitions to secede from the union at this time are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Don’t Say It

It’s my second entry in less than a week to rant on my home state of Missouri.  Once again, I find it absolutely incredible that our legislators would waste time with this particular issue when they complain that we aren’t creating jobs quickly enough.  Let’s put two and two together here.  This time, though, this issue is more near and dear to my heart, so I cannot afford to sit back quietly.  Not this time.  Something must be said… especially for those that have no voice.

The legislation in question is House Bill 2051 (HB2051… otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill) and is sponsored by Representative Steve Cookson, with the backing of both the current Speaker, Steven Tilley and the Speaker-Elect, Tim Jones.  HB2051 has been referred to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, and isn’t on the calendar for the committee as of yet.  But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  The legislation has to deal with the LGBT community… and even more importantly, it has to do with LGBT youth.  And at a time when LGBT suicides seem to be running rampant, this particular legislation does not help.  The text of it is short, but it reaches far beyond.

170.370. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.

My first question is how is this even legal?  How is it not a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution?  The government does not have the right to tell us what we can and cannot talk about, and it can’t make up laws that do.  What’s next?  Are they going to tell us what we can think about?  I could see a private school doing something of this nature, but for the public schools that are supported by taxpayer dollars… again, this cannot be even close to legal.  This is another case of the Republicans in the state of Missouri trying to demote part of its population to second-class citizens because they’re afraid of the “homosexual agenda.”  But this is a bunch of BS.  Legislation such as HB2051 is nothing short than a “hear no evil, see no evil” approach.  The Republicans in the state legislature believe that if the youth can’t talk about their homosexual tendencies/feelings, then they won’t give in to them.  They won’t be encouraged.  Unfortunately, the majority of the people that support legislation like this don’t know what they are talking about.  Someone either is or isn’t gay.  It doesn’t matter if it’s encouraged or not.  It is already something that is inside them.  No amount of legislation by the government (any government) will make that go away.  All it will end up doing is isolating a vital, productive, and creative part of our overall community.

Our youth will be the most adversely affected by such legislation as it is targeting them and the schools they go to.  Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs will be prohibited, and faculty and administrators will be forbidden to talk about anything dealing with sexual orientation… even if a student needs someone to talk to about it or even if a student is reporting a case of bullying.  Growing up, I was often teased throughout school.  Not for being gay but for basically being more of the nerdy type.  I know how it can make one feel.  Sometimes, I young person just needs someone to sit and listen… and to care.  And as we grow into young adults and starts dealing with more “adult-type” of situations, we need those people more and more.  We are often very careful about who we confide in, as well.  We want to make sure that it is a person that we can lean on.  For some, that particular person is a teacher.  And if this bill is put into law, that teacher won’t even be able to help even if he/she is the only person that kid or young adult feels like he/she can talk to.  It is just shameful.  And it hurts me to my core that our young people are made to feel more alone and more isolated at a time in their lives when they should be embraced and loved.

Missouri is not the first state to attempt a “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  The state of Tennessee voted several times last year on a similar bill, but it drew national ridicule that even came from the state’s Republican Governor.  The Tennessee bill eventually failed… though the state is trying again this year with an identical bill.  And now the state of Missouri is trying.  Apparently, the dumbasses who thought this thing up didn’t think this through very much.  Are they trying to prove that they are more conservative that the Republicans in Tennessee?  Is there a special prize at the end for them?  Well maybe on that last one… re-election by the same crazy voters that allow them to do dumbass things like this.  Again, it’s these same Republican legislators that say that we have fallen behind in creating jobs… that new businesses and new people are not moving to the state.  Yet, they can’t seem to make the correlation that it’s stupid stuff like this that makes Missouri a less-desirable place to live.  People tend not to want to live in a state that is trying to revert itself back to the 1850s (or even the 1950s).  This is the 21st century, and again, the people in Jefferson City need to pull their head out of their asses long enough to actually see the real world.  I know it might seem scary to them at first, but it will subside.

The consequences of such a bill needs to be thought through.  We’re isolating our youth.  We are isolating a part of our community.  Is that really a wise thing to do.  Regardless of our religious beliefs (and yes, I am a Christian), no one deserves treatment like this.  The legislators in Missouri need to realize this first and foremost.  They do not have the right to tell us how to live our lives, nor do they have the right to tell us what type of people we should be.  We are all different and unique, and we should all be embraced.  Even though I have been quite harsh on the legislators in this entry, I am trying my best to go after their actions. Afterall, hate only begets more hate.  I don’t mind when people think differently, it’s just when they act upon those thoughts and try to make others feel inferior… or in this case, feel like second-class citizens and that something is wrong with them.  The LGBT youth are simply amazing, and I think quite brave for all they have to endure at such a young age.  The bullying must stop… not only within our schools but from our government, too.  And if want a state that attracts businesses and new people, then we must stop writing BS legislation like this that makes people believe that Missouri is an ass-backwards state.  Let us move forward.  Let us work together to build a state that embraces everyone instead of isolating.  And let us work together to teach our youth to be good citizens and to be proud of who they are.  I think the youth of our state could teach some of the Missouri legislators a few lessons.  Afterall, to love thy neighbor means to embrace and accept them.

“Homosexuality, is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is apparently not in the interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendships or passionate love-all of which homosexuality is particularly apt to produce.”  Plato~

INFORMATION:
If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please call 1-866-4-U-Trevor (1-866-488-7386).  You can also click on the link for The Trevor Project.

For those living in the state of Missouri wishing to contact their Representative regarding HB2051, please click Here for the directory.

PREVIOUS ENTRY:
From The Shadows

Missour-uh

Bear with me for this particular entry.  Upon hearing of this particular subject, I felt nothing else would qualify than an old-fashioned rant, and I would like to thank The Atlantic for bringing this particular bit to attention that is taking place in my own home state of Missouri. It would appear that state Senator Brian Nieves (who is also a hard-core Tea Party Republican) has sponsored legislation that comes very close to seceding Missouri from the union.  The legislation claims that the state would have the authority to override any federal law it didn’t agree with and would go back to the original intent of the US Constitution. WTF?  Here is the the text of SJR45…

Upon approval by the voters, this constitutional amendment prohibits the Missouri legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government from recognizing, enforcing, or acting in furtherance of any federal action that exceeds the powers delegated to the federal government.

The state also shall not recognize, enforce, or act in furtherance of any federal actions that: restrict the right to bear arms; legalize or fund abortions, or the destruction of any embryo from the zygote stage; require the sale or trade of carbon credits or impose a tax on the release of carbon emissions; involve certain health care issues; mandate the recognition of same sex marriage or civil unions; increase the punishment for a crime based on perpetrator’s thoughts or designate a crime as a hate crime; interpret the establishment clause as creating a wall of separation between church and state; or restrict the right of parents or guardians to home school or enroll their children in a private or parochial school or restrict school curriculum.

The state is also required to interpret the U.S. Constitution based on its language and the original intent of the signers of the Constitution. Amendments to the U.S. Constitution shall be interpreted based on their language and the intent of the congressional sponsor and co-sponsors of the amendment.

The amendment also declares that Missouri citizens have standing to enforce the provisions of the amendment and that enforcement of the amendment applies to federal actions taken after the amendment is approved by the voters, federal actions specified in the amendment, and any federal action, regardless of when it occurred, that the general assembly or the Missouri Supreme Court determines to exceed the powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.

This screams of just crazy, and not to mention that it is completely unconstitutional.  Yes, I know all laws are constitutional until the US Supreme Court rules otherwise.  However, the Court has ruled on this before.  The attempt to nullify federal laws goes back to the beginning days of our country.  During President Andrew Jackson’s first term, the state of South Carolina threatened to secede from the union over tariff legislation.  Then Vice-President John C. Calhoun was a major supporter of the South Carolina movement since it was his own home state, and he thought the president would be supportive since he was a southerner, as well.  He was wrong.  President Jackson threatened to send in the army and even hang the Vice President if South Carolina didn’t back down… which it did.  He was affirming that federal law trumps state law and that states do not have the right to nullify any federal law that it doesn’t agree with.

Under Article 6 of the US Constitution, “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.”  This means that states cannot trump federal laws.  The Supreme Court has held even to that ruling.  State laws trump local laws, federal laws trump state laws, and the US Constitution trumps everything.  Missouri Senator Nieve’s legislation is unconstitutional based on this alone.

And in part of the bill, the state would return to the original intent of the US Constitution itself?  Under that alone, only those that serve within the state militia would have the right to bear arms (read the text of the Second Amendment) and not the general population.  It has only been interpreted through the Supreme Court to mean that all citizens have the right to bear arms.  And his legislation would, therefore, nullify that interpretation.

This could mean heated tensions in the debate of federal vs. state, which has always existed.  But in this particular case, it is bound to lose.  This latest anti-federalism move will not hold up in court.  And, if the bill passes through the state legislature and past the governor, when the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional on the grounds of Article 6, will the state of Missouri just attempt to nullify the ruling and do what it wants to do?  And if so, what does the federal government do then?  I guess one solution would be that the federal government could withhold all federal dollars since Missouri gets more than it pays in.

Nieves has proven that he is a complete dumbass for this type of legislation.  It is a complete waste of time and taxpayer dollars.  I think he needs to go back and take a civics class plus an American History class.  This man does not belong in any type of government…ever.  And for those who keep electing him, they need to wake up.  Just because there is a “R” by his name, doesn’t mean that he’d make a good representative of the people.  In fact, he’s got his head so far up his own ass that I doubt he can see the real world that exists around him.  It is said that Missouri is falling behind in attracting new jobs and people.  It’s this type of legislation that keeps businesses and people from moving to this state.  They see it as moving backwards and not progressing to the future.  Someone needs to tell Nieves, and any other legislator that votes in favor of this legislation, that it is not the 1850s (or even the 1950s) and to continually move the state of Missouri (and that is Missour-ee) backwards is not the answer.

The legislation is nothing short of a national debate we are having this election cycle.  The problem is that this particular legislation goes too far.  Nieves might see himself doing the right thing, and the Republican voters in this state might fully support such a move, but that doesn’t make it right.  That doesn’t even make it legal.  Nieves, and any supporting legislator, should know that it is doomed to go down in flames though they themselves will get a boost from normal Republican and Tea-Party Republican voters as they will be seen as standing up for the state over the overreaching federal government.

But let me ask this… if a state could (and I use the word ‘could’ because they technically can’t) pass laws that would nullify any federal law it didn’t agree with, then what would be the purpose of any federal legislation?  It would be total chaos and anarchy going from state to state.  We would essentially be throwing away the US Constitution and going back to the days of the Articles of Confederation, which the US Constitution replaced when it was determined that the Articles weren’t working.  Again, we find certain parts of our nation and those that represent the masses attempting to move our nation backwards without any regards to the lessons we have learned in our own history.  If we want to advance this state, then we must move it forwards.  And if state-Senator Nieves cannot be a part of that movement, then he needs to go back to the cave that he calls home and allow the rest of us to live in the real world… one free of his ass-backwards BS.

LINKS:
The Atlantic

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