The Tenth Amendment: “Our Last Hope”

Tenth Amendment CenterExpecting Washington, DC to change itself is a little bit like expecting your child to change its own diaper.” Michael Maharrey imparted this amusing analogy he credited to his wife.

The Cincinnati 912 Project hosted the Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Maharrey at the Sharonville Public Library Monday eveningMaharrey, a former journalist, serves as national communications director for The Tenth Amendment Center, a constitutionally based think tank.  He traveled from Lexington, Kentucky to speak to a group of over sixty citizens interested in learning about the The Tenth Amendment, states’ rights, and nullification.

The Tenth Amendment Center’s new Ohio Chapter coordinator, Scott Landreth, spoke about issues specific to Ohio and outlined a plan of action at the state level.

The Tenth Amendment Center’s philosophy is:

“Follow the Constitution every issue, every time.  No exceptions, no excuses!”

Maharrey, author of Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty gave a historical overview of The Tenth Amendment, its origins during the ratifying conventions of our nation’s founding, and steps to reestablish power at the state and local level.

Maharrey’s perspective about government and politics changed after recent elections and his study of history. 

“It’s about principle – it’s not about pragmatism, it’s not about party.  That was one of the first things I had to unlearn.”

According to Maharrey, the TAC ‘s purpose is to promote and reestablish the proper relationship between state and federal governments as intended by our founding fathers.  TAC works on education, writing and teaching constitutional principles, and activism, supporting state chapters to help pass legislation to block or thwart the overreach of the federal government at the state level.

Maharrey believes Democrats aren’t the problem; both sides are doing the same things – centralizing power, increasing spending and the size, scope, and power of federal government.

“There’s not a whole lot of difference…Democrats, they’re lost in the wilderness too…It’s not this party, this left-right Republican-Democrat dynamic.  It’s like two sides of the same coin.  They’re different but they’re not.  They’re doing the same stuff… There has to be another solution…The problem in America is not going to be solved by going to Washington, DC…because Washington, DC is the problem.  It’s a structural problem.  It’s a problem with the system itself that we’ve got to find a way to solve.”

Maharrey says state legislatures must stand up to the federal government where it has no authority.   He outlines the only path to restore the Republic – through a forgotten and powerful tool – nullification.

In forming the Republic, “The people of 13 independent sovereign states agreed to form a political union and delegated specific, limited powers to the federal government through the Constitution, retaining all other power and authority to themselves.”  (Source:  TAC brochure)

“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 Tenth Amendment)

Therefore, since the states originally delegated power to the federal government, they have the authority to make decisions about constitutionality and overreach of the federal government.

Maharrey further explains the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is not the final arbiter in determining constitutionality and scope of federal laws and power.  “The Supreme Court itself is part of the federal government”, and therefore also has its power conferred by the states.

During ratification of the US Constitution, thirteen sovereign nations or political societies came together at delegate conventions to ratify a “contract” to form the United States.  Therefore the states remain sovereign, except where power is delegated.  If the federal government tries to exercise undelegated powers, the states retain their power and are not under obligation to follow unconstitutional laws or mandates passed down.

“It logically follows that the political societies delegating power retain the authority to determine its extent, and to take steps when the government they created tries to operate outside of those boundaries.” (Source:  TAC brochure)

Virginia delegate George Nichols wrote, “[Congress]…Can exercise no power that is not expressly granted them.”

The principles of nullification were first outlined by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, responding to the first egregious overreach of federal government in the Alien and Sedition Acts.  Principles of ’98 or nullification declares when powers are assumed that are not delegated by the states, then nullification is imminent.

James Madison called nulllification a state’s right and duty and Jefferson called it the rightful remedy.

Scott Landreth, Ohio TAC Chapter coordinator, outlined issues, priorities, and next steps in Ohio:

  • Know your elected representatives at the local and state level.   Establish a relationship and regular contact.
  •  Voice your opinion often and encourage others to do same.
  • Monitor voting records and constitutional adherence of elected representatives
  • Give positive and negative feedback
  • Use social media to share ideas, stories, legislation, and track voting records

Projects/ legislative goals in Ohio:

  1.  Nullify Obamacare in Ohio – Obamacare is not nullified in Ohio despite a 66% “yes” vote by Ohioans in favor of the Healthcare Freedom Amendment in November 2011.  In December 2012, Governor Kasich signed an executive order mandating insurance coverage for autism. 
  2. Protect Second Amendment Rights (More)
  3. Nullify the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012 which allows indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without due process.  Virginia passed a NDAA Nullification Law.

Other important state level issues are voter identification laws and right to work legislation.

The bottom line – solutions to our problems are not found in Washington, DC.  They are found at the local level, closest to the people.   Ronald Reagan said it best, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” 

Political parties and politicians continue to represent their own interests and attempt to retain their power.  Grassroots participation and local government is the key to holding them accountable.

Visit the Tenth Amendment Center website for more information about nullification, the Supremacy Clause, or to make a donation.


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