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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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

HJR 108 State Sovereignty

State sovereignty is a big deal to state legislators; hopefully, it is to you as well. It is what keeps the federal government from over stepping its constitutional bounds.

Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution.

The history of the formation of our federal government is long and complex but what the framers sought was a government that protected man’s natural rights; declared by the Declaration of Independence to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness.

When the Constitution was drawn, the various states in existence already had Constitutions with several enumerated rights. Therefore, many of the framers believed that it was not necessary to include individual rights in a federal constitution. They feared that in doing so, the Constitution might incorrectly be construed as a document which limited the rights of the people and of the states.

Eventually the supporters of a bill of rights won out, and the Bill of Rights was drafted to guarantee equal rights for all Americans but compromise also brought the Tenth Amendment guaranteeing limits on federal power;

1. Freedoms of speech, press and religion

2. People's right to keep and bear arms

3. Protection from quartering troops

4. To be free of unreasonable searches and seizures

5. Right to due process and the prohibition of double jeopardy

6. Trial by jury and other rights of the accused

7. Right to civil trial by jury

8. Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment

9. Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights

10. Powers reserved for the states and people

As you can see, the various rights are not necessarily rights that exist in the state of nature but rather rights designed to affirm and protect our natural rights; for example, freedom of the press protects liberty, and trial by jury protects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The state sovereignty movement seeks to remind the federal government that the Tenth Amendment ensures that "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."

After all, the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states. However today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government. Many powers and federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution; this limits our freedom and costs taxpayers untold billions of dollars - or should I say trillions?

I believe that it is time we step forth as other states are doing and affirm Tennessee's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. We should also demand that the federal government halt and reverse its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution. Tennessee HJR 108 will do just that. With your support, hopefully, we can begin to reverse the federal power grab.


Chris F. said...

I'm glad to see Tennessee is on it. You have my support.

Chris F. said...

I've posted a link to your blog on Facebook and will be mentioning it to friends as time goes on. Keep up the great work!

Ryan Turbeville said...

This is awesome, I hope this passes. Keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I am glad to see this resolution and support it fully, but what about the forgotten 9th amendment? The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Governments are quick to talk about power, but what about rights?

It's true that the 10th amendment does protect the power of we the people, but it is primarily being used to assert state authority, rather than the power of we the people. Reducing the power of the federal government will be a wonderful thing, but what will we really accomplish if we transfer that power to a state that may be as corrupt as the federal government, rather than sharing it with the people?

State governments for many years have trampled on the natural unalienable right to travel protected by the 9th amendment and asserted in the Declaration of Independence. By converting our right to travel by private automobile into a privilege called "driving" we are now facing the dangers of Real ID which is a federal unfunded mandated. Some states are refusing to comply and Tennessee has legislation this year attempting to stop Real ID. However, we would not be facing this Real ID mess if states would respect the rights of the people protected by the 9th amendment.

After successful passage of this 10th amendment resolution, please do the same for the rights of the people protected by the 9th amendments. It's time for the states and feds to recognize the rights protected by the 9th amendment.

To freedom of the people and limited power of all government!

Anonymous said...

It's high time that the federal government realize that it was created by the states. I also agree with Tona. It's also time that government at all levels once again realize that they govern only with the consent of the governed.

Thanks for your great efforts!!

Timothy Avers said...

Lynn for governor! Thank you for speaking out on this critical issue at such a pivotal time in our history. We value your leadership.

Timothy Avers said...

Thank you for your leadership on this critical issue at this pivotal time for our nation. Lynn for governor!

Anonymous said...

I second the remarks by Tona. This is supposed to be a Representative Republic, not a "Democracy". It is government of, for, and BY the PEOPLE and Washington has completely forgotten that fact.

Darkroast Dave said...

I'm behind you 100 percent. I think state's rights in harmony with protection from our federal government is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind.

It amazes me that people want to mess with something that, for over 200 years, has worked pretty well. If we continue to allow the framework of our founding fathers to be diluted by liberal interpretation, before long it will not resemble that document that we fought to establish.

On your update, you spoke of the stimulus directed to Tennessee and the pigeon holes that were already included. Maybe we should join with the governor of Louisiana and refuse the money. Any help that we receive, any budgets that are supplemented will be expected to be maintained when our big brother goes home. Can we afford the expenses of the future?

Maybe we should take our medicine now and get well quicker!

Anonymous said...

With Federal Government Central Planning in the works I applaud and support any effort to retain State sovereignty.

We The People ultimately are responsible for what our governments do, so I plead with all voters to become engaged in the political struggle for restoring our individual rights.

Thank you for your efforts toward these goals. Please participate with the many thousands who are watching and helping:

Campaign For Liberty

Anonymous said...

I pray that this will pass. I am wholeheartedly behind all of you and thank you for standing up for Tennesseans rights. Please keep up the fight and think about adding a bill to keep law enforcement and others from removing our guns during martial law please.


Anonymous said...

I commend and support your efforts on behalf of Tennessee! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for state's rights and sovereignty as intended in the old Republic!
Here in Kentucky we've got a similar sovereignty resolution up for consideration. I hope all 50 states will pass their own to tell Washington DC where to put unconstitutional infringement!

Anonymous said...

Actually, there is a gross error in the language which I am hoping was purely an oversight in which case, I am sure it will be remedied. In paragraph 3, you state:

better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness

THAT IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE!!! We have the right to pursue these things. Fortunately for us, our Founding Fathers were adept at grammar so we can be confident that they were not saying that there is an entitlement (RIGHT) to work and acquire property. If it is fact a right like life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness is, then it is an entitlement that must be guaranteed by the Constitution.

Words mean something.

M Seven

Anonymous said...

Does state sovereignty include the underfunded "No Child Left Behind" debacle imposed by the Bush administration?

Unknown said...

Glad to see this here in Tennessee Susan. Keep up the good work. I'll be doing everything I can to help.

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone who stands with/for the people!! We also agree with Tona above on the 9th also. You have lots of support here.
Thank you, thank you, God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I fully support this move as well. Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

This isn't a partisan issue, although it won't surprise me to see it turned into one. I don't see how any legislation would want to cede more power to someone else. Politicians are (almost) always looking for more power, it makes no sense that they're willing to give it up to the Federal government. Democrats, republicans, independents....unite!

Anonymous said...

Susan - Thanks for supporting this legislation. I strongly agree with what Tona said! Please take steps to limit state government from violating peoples' civil and economic liberties too. Have you watched this animated video? Definitely worth checking out - http://www.isil.org/resources/introduction.swf

Unknown said...

I agree with Tona, but I would take it a little further. Rather than waiting for the 10th Amendment to be strengthened, I would say it would be a good idea to immediately work to strengthen all of the Amendments and the State Constitution in an attempt to empower citizens. All power that is not absolutely necessary for the government function as our agent to do for us only those things that we cannot do for ourselves should be retained by the citizens. Our government has turned this nation upside down and we as citizens have idly stood by and watched it happen. We watched as a nation rather than engaging our government because we were afraid, complacent, and apathetic. We watched as the radical fringe groups took over our country and stripped away our rights. Now, it is time for good people like yourself to fight for our rights and empower us as citizens once again.

I am here to help in any way I can, I have determined not to stand on the sidelines and watch any longer.

Anonymous said...

hello susan, being that it is now march 18, and i have not heard another peep about hjr108 state sovereignty for tennessee. i was wondering if it was real. when the campaign for liberty sends me mail about state sovereignty-tennessee is never mentioned...please let everyone know what is going on. thank you much...

Anonymous said...

Tennessee needs this. Thank you! I've written MY lawmakers. We need government to be for the people again.

Michael J. Bernard said...

It’s funny how Rep. Bart Gordon calls himself a “blue dog” but is basically walking in lock-step with the expansion of government while also wasting taxpayer money on trips to Europe for him and his wife.



Anonymous said...

I am by no means an advocate of Federal power-grabs. I believe strongly in shared sovereignty between the state and Federal governments; however, I should perhaps remind "strict Constitutionalists" that the clause known as "the elastic clause" is also part of the Constitution. The "elastic clause" states "The Federal government shall have whatever powers are necessary to carry the foregoing into operation". This is a reference to the enumerated powers.

Beverly said...

Thank you for taking a stand for the Constitution and in defense of State's rights. I'll be contacting my representatives and call for their support!

Chef Craig said...

Thanks for breaking this down for us, What can we do to create support? CraigSBradhaw@gmail.com in Tullahoma

Travis Monroe said...


Thank you so much for all the good work you do in the state legislature. You are certainly a blessing to the people of Tennessee. Commitments to freedom like yours are what we desperately need to turn the corner on our countries self destruction and secure our safety and happiness. I would like to challenge you on your interpretation of the Declaration of Independence as listed on your blog. Like so many of us, for years I repeated what I was taught in government schools about the Declaration, you know – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, however the main theme is always missing in this description. Once you find it, it’s easy to understand why government schools conveniently leave it out! After reading the Declaration hundreds of times and praying for understanding I have come to the following:

Declaration of Independence 1776
Right #1 -- The right to alter or abolish destructive government and install new government for our safety and happiness

Many times it is said the first right in the Declaration of Independence is the right to life. However the “right to alter or abolish destructive government and install new government for our safety and happiness” is actually the first right addressed. The entire opening paragraph is concerning this preeminent right of the people. “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.”

Right #2, #3, & #4 – The second paragraph contains the famous and foundationally important partial list of self-evident truths. “…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.”

Obviously one must be alive to secure the first right listed but nonetheless of the 1323 words in the Declaration of Independence 1268 are given to altering or abolishing destructive government, the government of England at the time, and installing new government for our safety and happiness. Only 55 words are assigned to all other rights and ideas. It is clearly not a misrepresentation to say that the Declaration of Independence is primarily a document about our right to alter or abolish destructive government and install new government for our safety and happiness.

This idea is quite simple. It does not take a rocket scientist, a theologian, a supreme court judge, a news commentator or a college professor to understand this right. It is equally understood by a plumber, a doctor, a ditch digger, a lawyer, a housewife and a baseball player. Every American understands this right when given to thinking about it. This Fourth of July we Americans need to spend time thinking about this most dutiful, beautiful and foundational right of the people.

Tom said...

What is the latest on this?

Jim in Kingsport said...

Hi Susan;

I am a 65 year old male in Kingsport, TN. I think what you have done is fantastic. My only suggestion for improvement is to make the resiolution binding, instead of non-binding.

I called Lt. Governor Ramsey's oficve this week to inquire as to the delays in getting this resolution out of committee. I understand there is another resolution that is now stuck in the Judiciary. It appears that our General Assembly lacks the intestinal fortitude necessary to stand up to the Chicago thugs currently in power in Washington.

What can we do? Can we get a list of e-mail addresses for the legistators in Nashville?

My e-mail address is jm4284@aol.com. My name is Jim McCrary, and I am eager to make your resolution happen. Please tell me how to help.


saildier said...

It is a shame this has to be done, but thank you for recognizing and having the will to do what is necessary. Let me know how I can help.