Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The (real) Spirit of '87

In a nice article posted at the Tenth Amendment Center, Timothy Baldwin (son of Chuck Baldwin) writes the following,

[T]o suggest that state sovereignty always give way to the national power is to completely do away with the line. It is in fact to destroy even the natural law of self-preservation. If you accept Corwin’s proposition of “getting back to the constitution”, you might as well throw the tenth amendment in the dump, along with the freedom it protects.

which concepts are of intense interest to me, witnessed by the fact that I've written about them numerous times at this blog including at least one entry in which I suggested (tongue in cheek, of course) that we make this false and dangerous doctrine of federal authority always trumping state authority official amending it into the constitution and settling the issue once and for all time. Indeed, we could simply scrap the entirety of the U.S. Constitution and replace it with this simple doctrine, for as I've also said before, to scrap the 9th and 10th amendments is the same thing, for all intents and purposes, as scrapping the entirety of the constitution.

In a comment directed at Mr. Baldwin's above statements, I wrote the following:

To suggest that state sovereignty always give way to the national power is to completely do away with the line.

Precisely correct! It is, in point of fact, a contradiction in terms the suggestion that state sovereignty can in any way exist alongside an all powerful central authority to which the states must always yield. One of the fundamental laws of logic is the law of non-contradiction (A cannot be non-A), which such a concept palpably violates and is therefore of no legitimate authority whatsoever, which is to say that rational people are in no way bound to observe it nor anyone who propagates such blatantly false illogical conceptions.

It is in fact to destroy even the natural law of self-preservation.

Well, the law itself cannot be destroyed. It can, however, be undermined to the extent that for all intents and purposes (governmentally speaking) it is non existent. And that’s what it invariably comes down to, now isn’t it. Indeed, the law of self-preservation applies as well to the national government as it does to the states and to the people. In asserting unlimited arbitrary power over them, the national government, in point of fact, is destroying itself and the reason for its existence. And we all know what the Declaration says about that — “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [the preservation of the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it…”

In the end, and as I think Mr. Baldwin intimates further down the article, it all comes down to a clash of worldviews (doesn't it always?). Worldview A holds that there are certain inviolable principles perpetually at work in the physical universe and, acknowledging that these principles and laws exist, seeks to operate within the boundaries therein prescribed insofar as they can be dileneated, while Worldview B rejects the idea that these principles and laws really exist as anything more than the false conceptions and inventions of [lesser-evolved] minds led astray. Worldview B seeks, therefore, to ignore them, everything being to such people "relative" except, of course, the idea that "everything is relative" which is not relative but a fixed and immutable law of the universe. Setting aside the contradiction here, is this the one and only fixed and immutable law of the universe, this idea that everything is relative? I don't know, it gets a bit confusing given that such people also palpably contradict themselves in dogmatically asserting that "we can't legislate morality" while at the very same moment, and in fact in the very issue itself, pushing intensely for the ... well, ahem ... the legislation of morality.

Anyway, do read the article in full. Baldwin helpfully lists at least twelve instances in which the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution contain the same principles. Not that it really serves our purposes since the constitution establishes an all-powerful central authority designed to eventually suck all other state and local authority into its ever-growing, ever more violently destructive vortex.

Them founding fathers, they was a shifty bunch, wasn't they!


chiu_chunling said...

To regulate commerce by laws, one must exercise power to govern it, and that power is necessarily one of restraint rather than promotion. And insofar as such regulation is one of the Constitutional powers of Congress, and as the powers which would be necessary for the States to undertake this regulation themselves are specifically prohibited to them in the tenth Section of the same Article, I think that in matters of regulating interstate commerce the strict Constitutionalist would have to agree that the States have no power to contest the Congress's regulation of interstate Commerce.

But that doesn't mean that such power has no limits, nor that there is no agency which can lawfully contest it. First, all powers of Congress are limited in their use by the necessity that they comply with the equal protection clause, which is also apparent from the clauses in Article IV. First, Congress may by general Laws prescribe the effects and limits of State laws which may affect legal questions arising in another state. Which is to say that Congress cannot single out given states for preferential or unequal treatment, the law must be written to apply to the type of State act it regulates, not on the basis of which state enacted it. It is also stipulated that the Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

This prohibition against preferential treatment of one state or punishment of another is perhaps the most potent limitation on all the powers of Congress, not just the Commerce clause. It is also completely absent from all arguments (and exercises) of Federal supremacy over the individual States, which are based on the inherent assumption that the Federal government has any power at all to do anything to a particular state.

More pointed, while the Congress does have power to regulate Commerce between States, that does not grant it any power whatsoever over transactions between individuals where neither is acting as an agent of any State. Only where a good is produced or transported at the direct behest or under the explicit authority of a state government can the Commerce clause properly apply at all.

Which is to say, I must argue that the Congress's power to regulate Commerce between the States is indeed totally superior to any power which the States have over such commerce, but not to the power which individual citizens may exercise over their own commercial transactions.

But as long as we're being such strict Constitutionalists, exactly where does Congress get off having an Army?