In New Hampshire, State Representative Dan Itse has introduced House Bill 1343 (HB1343), which, if passed, would create “a joint committee of the legislature to consider the constitutionality of acts, orders, laws, statutes, regulations, and rules by the government of the United States including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and to consider the actions necessary to protect the sovereignty of the state of New Hampshire.”
Unlike the many 10th Amendment Resolutions that have been introduced around the country since 2008, HB1343 is legally-binding legislation.
Calling on Thomas Jefferson and the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, the bill reaffirms the principle that it was “We the People” of the several states that created the federal government, and not the other way around. Thus, it’s the people of each state, and not the federal government, that retains sovereignty, which is defined as “final authority” in the American System.
The legislation states:
“the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, all remaining powers for their own self-government.”
Most importantly, it includes the essential declaration that government is strictly limited to those powers which have been delegated to it in the Constitution – and nothing more:
whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.
The bill, if passed, would create a committee that would not only review the Constitutionality of Laws, Acts and Regulations emanating from Washington D.C., but would also recommend and propose legislation to protect the citizens of New Hampshire from any federal overreach:
I. There is hereby established a joint committee on the constitutionality of acts, orders, laws, statutes, regulations, and rules of the government of the United States. This joint committee of the legislature shall consider the constitutionality of acts, orders, laws, statutes, regulations, and rules by the government of the United States including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, and consider the actions necessary to protect the sovereignty of the state of New Hampshire and the liberty of its citizens by restraining the government of the United States to its constitutional limits.
II. The joint committee shall:
(c) When necessary propose legislation to prohibit, and if necessary, punish the enforcement of unconstitutional acts, orders, laws, statutes, regulations, and rules of the government of the United States.
LIMITED: THE PROPER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
Federal violations of the Constitution goes beyond anything the founders and ratifiers would have accepted.
James Madison, explaining the constitution, in Federalist Paper 45, said, “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.”
Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not “subordinate” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. … The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.”
NULLIFICATION AND INTERPOSITION
The principles behind such legislation are nullification and interposition, which garnered first serious attention with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798.
When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.
Implied in any nullification legislation is enforcement of the state law.
In the Virginia Resolution of 1798, James Madison wrote of the principle of interposition:
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.
Here Madison asserts what is implied in nullification laws – that state governments not only have the right to resist unconstitutional federal acts, but that, in order to protect liberty, they are “duty bound to interpose” or stand between the federal government and the people of the state.
HB1343 clearly includes interposition in its text:
XXIII. Therefore the Legislatures and Legislators of the several States have the right and duty to consider the constitutionality of any legislative act or order promlugated by the government of the United States of America; and to protect their governments, inhabitants, and residents and instruments created under their authority by prohibiting, and if necessary punishing the enforcement of any Acts by the Congress of the United States of America, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America, or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a prohibition or punishment include, but are not limited to:
(a) Requiring the States to create a national identification card system.
(b) Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
(c) Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
(d) Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.
(e) Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition.
The Bill currently has three co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee of State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs
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Michael Boldin is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center
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Andrew Nappi is the State Coordinator for the Florida Tenth Amendment Center. He lives in the Tampa Bay Area with wife Tammy and dogs Emma and Bud Lite.
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