Maine State Representative Richard Cebra (R-Naples) has been a reliable defender of the Tenth Amendment over the years in Augusta, sponsoring resolutions that reaffirm the importance of the Tenth Amendment to bills nullifying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Recently, he has been joined by individuals like Representative Melvin Newendyke (R-Litchfield), who introduced the Intrastate Commerce Act and Representative Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro), who had a few bills in such as P.P.A.C.A. nullification and Defend the Guard. Never before, has there been a stronger movement towards the Tenth Amendment in Augusta. This tradition, like with the Tenth Amendment Center itself, started with the opposition to the REAL ID Act of 2005, which would’ve steered the nation towards a national identification card.
One could only imagine the words George Orwell might have to say about the world around us. The visionary of a dystopian future or a man of warning unheeded, he has written a lot of what did come true. There is Animal Farm, which showed how a new government formed on equality becomes totalitarian and powerful because of lust and greed. Even more well known is Nineteen Eighty-Four, which carries two major themes: the power of propaganda and the expansion of the police state.
We’re at a defining moment in history.
Trillions of dollars in debt, a number in the financial world difficult to stomach (unless you have enough propaganda artists), and because of the turmoil, a government slowly chokes it’s clinching fingers upon the throat of the Constitution. Both sides of the spectrum have seen grassroots uprisings that threaten the establishment in both parties, with Occupy on the left and the Tea Party on the right. Each has their issues, whether it be social justice or elimination excessive taxation, and it has fueled it’s growing relevance. But they, like their establishment counterparts, fail to come together towards any meaningful goals. The media still remains successful in maintaining a dark and politically bloody divide.
Liberty has failed to unite up until this point, because of various issues. Capitalism has been given a bad name because of corporatism, and thus, the mere mention of the former incites hatred from the left. But is capitalism all that bad? Not so much, as the big corporations would not have the big government steroids that enable a much larger advantage over the smaller, fair players. On the right, social conservatism enables them to rival their counterparts in the competition for biggest big government policies. Best way to save the economy? Restore constitutional governance? Make sure two consenting adults do not enter into a contract that does not affect anyone else, simply because it is not of our approval.
It would seem as though we’re never going to find common ground. Can we?
Enter National Defense Authorization Act.
REDEFINING THE DIVIDE
As previously established, the divide has always been conservative vs. liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. Ayn Rand once noted that there is only one real battle, and that is freedom vs. tyranny. Republicans fight those bad people in the other party that believe in economic slavery and the Democrats fight those bad people in the other party because they believe in social control. Nevermind that Republicans have Medicare Part D and TARP to brag about, while the Democrats continue to insist on social freedom while protecting the government control over that freedom.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 changed everything. Republicans and Democrats found themselves under the same rallying call. Groups scattered at every corner of the spectrum, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Tenth Amendment Center, began standing up to the bill. The point of controversy? Sections 1021 and 1022. The first deals with detention without trial, with the second dealing with military custody.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-California) claimed in an article on RedState that the bill did nothing more than confirm what was previously known as of the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force: that the ”affirm that the military may lawfully detain foreign individuals who are engaged in armed conflict with the United States. He further states that the provision “explicitly exempts U.S. citizens from the requirement.”
All is well, right? Once again, the government solution is always the answer to the problem, right?
Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) however offered a different perspective. While many government figures in the executive and legislative branches have claimed it does nothing more than merely confirm what the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force authorized, Congressman Amash notes that it already authorized indefinite detention. So when Section 2011 of NDAA confirms what we already knew, it does technically uphold the indefinite detention.
In a very careful and complex way, we were nearly fooled. In regards to the bill’s successful passage, Congressman Amash correctly observed, “The NDAA’s backers succeeded in part because of the bill’s length and complexity.”
But we won’t get fooled again. And so goes the infighting within the Republican Party, while Democrats rally against it as well. For political gain?
MAKING A STATEMENT
The Tenth Amendment Center’s NDAA legislative tracking page has a few resolutions passed, a couple half way there, and several introduced. The most recent statement was made by Maine, with the House voting in favor on March 19th and the Senate doing so twenty-four hours later. Although the resolutions themselves are non-binding, they send a clear message: we won’t back down.
This is an important first step to put states on the map. Virginia, Utah, and Maine have all successfully done so. 47 states remain. In the meantime, it is important for these three states to move forward and take the lead. Putting force to the statement, by taking a stand, will encourage others to take the time and effort to stand up.
TAKING A STAND
The Tenth Amendment Center offers three pieces of draft legislation, for varying levels. The first, which the three states noted above have done, is a resolution affirms the roles of government and calls on the federal government to backdown. Although three states have taken this on successfully, NOBODY has made it beyond this point.
Because straight-forward nullification may not be viable because of it’s mainstream reputation and the lack of awareness among the mainstream, it is necessary to take steps. First, the resolution. Then, the non-compliance act. The non-compliance act is an actual law and is binding, which takes the next step of refusing state support of the indefinite detention provisions of the federal law. State agencies would be lawfully required to refuse compliance with the federal government in enforcing the National Defense Authorization Act.
Only then, can a state tackle the final step of the nullification act, which would take the non-compliance act a step further by also making the federal law illegal and setting penalties for those who attempt enforcement.
CAN IT BE DONE?
It seems like a difficult idea to stomach for some: the small little state government taking on the behemoth that has become of the federal government. How can a state government, who relies on the federal government for funding on many projects, possibly stand it’s ground?
Flashback to where it all began: the launch of the Tenth Amendment Center and the jumpstart of the modern nullification movement. 2006 saw what has never occurred before on such a large scale and so fast, as many states moved forward to refuse compliance with REAL ID. States either outright refused to allow the bill to move forward in their territory, or they refused to fund the compliance of it, as the States were forced to foot the bill.
Now that the big scary beast has been taunted, it’s going to strike back, right? Funding cuts or threats thereof, federal agents hitting the ground running?
March 2, 2007 came around and after the bill’s passage on May 11, 2005, the federal government was still facing heavy resistance it was not used to. The result was the announcement that enforcement would be extended for two years, with the deadline now December 2009.
That was that. The federal government means business and they’re going to put their foot down, right? The states won’t have any impact.
The new year rolled around in 2008 and resistance still hadn’t calmed, despite the best hopes from the bureaucrats in Washington D.C. who want to perform the noble deed of keeping us safe from ourselves. Come the 11th of January, another announcement came from the federal government: you’ve been extended, until 2011.
Well, we were lucky to get this far without any real push back. Even with half of the states in the union, at the very least, standing their ground, we were still due to fail. Right?
March 2011 rolled around without much change in the situation, as states still refused to stand down. Still frustrated, but not giving up after six long years, the federal government sent another message to the states: once more, you have been given another chance. The current extension has the date of implementation at January 15, 2013.
Nobody has backed down still. An extension is likely coming, seven years later.
WE THE PEOPLE
We the people have spoken on various issues, with the Tenth Amendment being applied to right-wing issues such as healthcare, as well as left-wing issues such as the wars. Although the Constitution knows no partisan boundaries, it is used in partisan politics as a weapon to win elections and damage one’s foes. It has become a tool for gain, instead of a shield for the people.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, with it’s indefinite detention provisions, changes everything. With Occupiers and Tea Partiers, liberals and conservatives, coming together, the people are putting aside their petty differences to stand for what’s right.
United we stand, divided we fall. The message rang true after September 11th, 2001 and it still remains a fact of reality. We, as the greatest experiment in liberty that human history has ever known, must remain united. We can point fingers in our local coffee shops as arguments echo down the halls of Congress, and we can bicker all day, but it will divert us.
This is what the establishment wants. This is what tyranny relies on.
Division leads to easier submission.
But we’re Americans. As a free people, strong and principled, we’re better than that. And we’re going to prove the world wrong by relighting the torch of liberty and holding it high for all the world to see.
And we will do it with nullification.
Chris is the state chapter coordinator for the Maine Tenth Amendment Center.
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