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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Draft of Letter to the States

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.


Anonymous said...

Since your letter will be going out to every state legislature (and I hope that you request each recipient body further disseminate the letter to every individual legislator, so as to prevent the leadership from keeping the letter and its message away from other members), that makes it a tremendous opportunity to rally support for state sovereignty.

When discussing the ratification of the Constitution, it needs to be pointed out that ratification was by the people of the several states on a state by state basis, not by the aggregate mass of the American people. This is an important distention that further affirms state sovereignty.

Also, the word 'Creator' should be capitalized.

You need to draw upon Thomas Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. Besides being one of the greatest defenses of federalism ever written, it also speaks to one of the most sinister ways in which the contemporary federal government has violated the Constitution and victimized citizens: the area of criminal law (see paragraph II of the Resolutions). http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/kyres/kyadopted.html

One essential method for reining in federal usurpation is to restore the classical role of the county sheriff: http://www.usa1911.com/scm/index & http://www.sheriffmack.com/

Another, even more important method is for the legislature to enact nullification bills with the force of law; see http://www.georgiafirst.org/governor/sra.shtml for one set of proposals that is coming out of Georgia.

Another important step is to bring back the knowledge of jury nullification power. For example, a legislature could pass a law requiring all state judges in every case to inform jurors about their nullification powers, with deliberate failure to do so resulting in a mandatory heavy civil penalty against the noncompliant judge for each offense, and perhaps establishing multiple deliberate offenses by a single judge as grounds for impeachment. Once the knowledge of jury nullification is thoroughly spread throughout the state courts, it will necessarily begin to affect the federal courts by default, and we will all be more free and safe because of it. http://fija.org/

Here are some scholars you may wish to contact to help you craft the historical technical points of the letter: http://www.thomasewoods.com/ & http://kevingutzman.com/ & http://www.edwinvieira.com/ (you can go to http://www.newswithviews.com/Vieira/edwin199.htm to find his mailing address at the bottom of the article)

Anonymous said...

Out standing! I can only hope that the legislators in all of the states are of a like mind. You have a true concept of Liberty and the Founders vision for Our country. Thank you

Mark E. said...

I thank you for your efforts!
Continue the fight!

Anonymous said...

Need to repeal the 17th ammendment to allow you to appoint US senators. Then they would look to states for direction of issues before them. Now no one in Washington is looking out for states rights.

Mike Davis said...

What a great and very informative letter to the states even with limiting the history of states rights and the 10th amendment. Nullification is foreign to the majority of Americans since it hasn't been used in our lifetimes, but when you study history was common place in our early beginnings. Most people I discuss this with think the Federal Government has the upper hand. Boy are they misinformed.

This makes me very proud of you and the Tennessee legislators that are backing you and this resolution. Keep up the good work.

Dave Edmondson said...

Representative Lynn;

You may need to dumb this down significantly for the California legislators.
I suddenly have an urge to move to Tennessee!

Dave Edmondson
Dunsmuir, Ca.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Tennessee, or any other state for that matter could boycott a public option health care system as a violation of a state's sovereignty? It could be argued that it is an attempt to regulate a state's economy(their healthcare industry, which normally only serves their state's citizens). I really appreciate this aggressive, innovative approach to balancing the power of our federal government. You governer, will recieve much support from accross the country.

Anonymous said...

The legislatures need to ask if the 17th amendment was even lawfully ratified. The sitting U.S. Senate certainly isn't going to allow that question to be asked in their chambers, and so the state legislatures need to force the issue into the open. All it takes is a legislature with the boldness to do so: see http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=28776 & http://www.devvy.com/pdf/McElroy_Working_Paper.pdf (PDF)

As the author of those pieces suggests in the first article, all it would require is for a legislature to appoint two U.S. Senators as if there was no 17th amendment, send them to Washington D.C. to be seated, and the conflict with the popularly-elected Senators would be forced into a federal courtroom.

And while they're at it, the legislatures also need to deal with the question of the legality of the 16th amendment's ratification; this issue is covered in part by the excellent documentary "America: Freedom to Fascism," which can be viewed at Google Video at http://bit.ly/1BfhwY

The people deserve to know if the 16th amendment was lawfully ratified or not, and in order to find out, the legislatures needs to ask the right questions and take proactive steps to getting answers. Although a simple constitutional solution that would solve a large part of the income tax problem --- and it is a solution that can be applied without approval from any federal court --- is for a legislature to pass a bill like this one: http://bit.ly/3y3fSp (PDF)

Brad Ward said...

You're doing a good job Susan. Keep it up! Our freedom is sacred and Washington must realize that there is a line that you can not cross under any circumstance. That line starts with the Bill of Rights but doesn't end there. We reserve the rights from our creator and this government tyranny must end or the consequences will be dire on both sides. It is our duty to alter or abolish this government if our rights are not secure. Well, I'm glad that you understand not only my position but the contract of employment that was given to this government by the people.


Brad Ward
Bartlett, TN

Mike Davis said...

"Is it possible that Tennessee, or any other state for that matter could boycott a public option health care system as a violation of a state's sovereignty?"

Yes it is possible..some states are drafting legislation now, Arizona is one that comes to mind, under Arizona's Health Care Freedom Act. It gives the citizens the right if they want to opt out based on the 10th amendment. This is something also called "nullification"

Nora Barnett said...

This letter gives me hope, again. I would love to see the fruition from this letter - could you all hurry it up and get the Obama healthcare stopped? Please!

Nora Barnett, Collierville, TN.
Proud to be a transplant from IN. to TN. since 1968.