I really wanted to include some additional history in the letter to the states on state sovereignty but it was just too long but here is the first draft of the letter.
We send greetings from the Tennessee General Assembly. On June 23, 2009, House Joint Resolution 108, the State Sovereignty Resolution, was signed by Governor Phil Bredesen. The Resolution created a committee which has as its charge to:
· Communicate the resolution to the legislatures of the several states,
· Assure them that this State continues in the same esteem of their friendship,
· Call for a joint working group between the states to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government, and
· Seek repeal of the assumption of powers and the imposed mandates.
On July 4, 1776 our founding fathers declared their independence from the government of Great Britain; thus the united colonies became free and independent states.
The Declaration of Independence established the American view of the rights of man and the duties of government. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They concluded by stating that our “separate but equal station” with Britain and other governments of the world would give us “full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.”
In 1787, using the model of the Declaration of Independence as a guide to governance, and following the short lived Articles of Confederation; a Constitution was written which provides seventeen specific powers of the federal government (Article 1, Section 8).
In 1789, a Bill of Rights was crafted because “the Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers”; thus “extending the ground of public confidence in the Government.”
The Bill of Rights consists of natural rights and rights that serve to secure our natural rights. They make clear that all natural rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights are protected, and clarify that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved for the states and the people. The ensuing amendments either do likewise or establish additional powers and terms for our government.
Therefore, we are a collection of free and independent states; the purpose of our political system is to secure for its citizens’ their natural rights; and our national government is authorized to carry out the seventeen enumerated powers and powers of the ensuing amendments.
At the time of the Constitutional ratification process James Madison drafted the “Virginia Plan” to give Congress general legislative authority and to empower the national judiciary to hear any case that might cause friction among the states, to give the congress a veto over state laws, to empower the national government to use the military against the states, and to eliminate the states’ accustomed role in selecting members of Congress. Each one of these proposals was soundly defeated. In fact, Madison made many more attempts to authorize a national veto over state laws, and these were repeatedly defeated as well.
So there are clear limits to the power of the federal government. However, today the simple and clear expression of purpose has turned into the modern expectation that the national government has an obligation to ensure our life, to create our liberty, and fund our pursuit of happiness. The national government has become a complex system of programs whose purposes lie outside of the responsibilities of the enumerated powers and of securing our natural rights; programs that benefit some while others must pay.
Today, the federal government seeks to control the salaries of those employed by private business, to change the provisions of private of contracts, to nationalize banks, insurers and auto manufacturers, and to dictate to every person in the land what his or her medical choices will be.
Forcing property from employers to provide healthcare, legislating what individuals are and are not entitled to, and using the labor of some so that others can receive money that they did not earn goes far beyond securing natural rights and the enumerated powers.
The role of our American government has been blurred, bent, and breached. Adherence to the specific powers and the fundamental American ideal that our government is based on the theory of natural rights expressed ever so simply as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that no government can deny these rights; the rights endowed to us by our creator must be restored.
To be sure, the People created the federal government to be their agent for certain enumerated purposes only. The Constitutional ratifying structure was created so it would be clear that it was the People, and not the States, that were doing the ratifying.
The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that which has been delegated by the people to the federal government, and also that which is absolutely necessary to advancing those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. The rest is to be handled by the state governments, or locally, by the people themselves.
The Constitution does not include a congressional power to override state laws. It does not give the judicial branch unlimited jurisdiction over all matters. It does not provide Congress with the power to legislate over everything. This is verified by the simple fact that attempts to make these principles part of the Constitution were soundly rejected by its signers.
With this in mind, any federal attempt to legislate beyond the Constitutional limits of Congress’ authority is a usurpation of state sovereignty - and unconstitutional.
Governments and political leaders are best held accountable to the will of the people when government is local. The people of a state know what is best for them; authorities, potentially thousands of miles away, governing their lives is opposed to the very notion of freedom.
We invite your state to join with us to form a joint working group between the states to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and to seek repeal of the assumption of powers and the imposed mandates.