States can violate the Constitution, too.

In a recent interview conducted by Radley Balko of Reason Magazine, Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers describes his position on the Federal Government and states who violate the Constitution:

reason: Oath Keepers seems to be primarily focused on the federal government. But state and local governments are certainly capable of violating the Constitution. Do you think the 14th Amendment allows the federal government to intervene if, say, a local sheriff is violating the rights of the residents of his county?

Rhodes: I don’t think it allows it; I think it compels it. But that’s not incompatible with the idea that the states should be left alone to make and enforce their own criminal laws. They should be free to do that.┬áBut if a state or local government isn’t respecting the Bill of Rights, then yes, the federal government should intervene and investigate. Take Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona. I think he’s a terrible sheriff. And I think it’s really unfortunate that he’s held up as some kind of a hero in parts of the freedom community. He’s a constitutional disaster, a Bill of Rights disaster. So yes, in that case, you have a sheriff who’s violating due process and who’s violating the Eighth Amendment.┬áThere’s definitely a role for the federal government to come in and say no.

This is my stance on the Tenther movement.

This document includes 9 other Amendments, too.

The first 10 Amendments

Though I can be described as a tenther myself, I do not believe that the state is completely free to do as it pleases carte blanche. Nor do I think such an idea is wise.

States violate the Constitution just as much as the Federal government. Does this mean that the Federal government should have NO say, period, in certain laws at the state level simply because we can indict the Federal government for doing the same? I don’t think that’s what it means.

I think there should be a certain tension between the states and the Federal government. I think there should be an adversarial relationship; a balance. This would keep people honest and active and thinking as well as the system constantly questioning itself.

Many conservatives woefully fail on this in one extreme direction or the other. There are those that honestly believe the Federal government should have absolutely no say whatsoever in a states lawmaking. Then there are those that think the Federal government should have almost omnipotent power in dictating law to the several states. The latter is an idea embraced by liberals as well as some conservatives.

Neither of these positions are an accurate representation of our Republic. Neither enforce the rules of the Constitution. They both are ignorant in their own way.

I think Stewart Rhodes of Oathkeepers gives a great answer to the question of Federal power vs states rights. I also think it is one that we in the Tenther movement need to keep aware of. The states must be kept accountable for their unconstitutional actions just as much as the Federal government should be held accountable for the same unconstitutional actions.

The Founders helped craft the Federal government as a compact between the several states. They wanted to keep commerce regular and laws from becoming too extreme in one state versus another. This idea, though abused by our Federal government, is what gives the opposition equal chance to abuse that same idea in a different direction. Our Founder’s agreed on this compact. They realized that some sovereignty was to be given up in support of a regular nation.

For an example, I can think of two states right-off-the-top-of-my-head that I would not wish to be 100% sovereign, uncountable to the Constitution and the rule of law: Texas and California. I think many would agree that when it comes to ideology, those two states are at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum. Would you want to be a resident in either of these states without the Bill of Rights to protect you from state abuse?

As a gay man, Texas without the 1st amendment would absolutely frighten me. As an ardent gun-rights supporter, California without the 2nd amendment would leave me defenseless (quite literally) against crime. I am not stereotyping residents of either state. However, both state governments have been skirting the Bill of Rights line for decades. Albeit, they have been nudging the line in opposite directions.

Texas was the last state to remove sodomy laws. That is, Texas was the last state to recognize “personal sexual behavior” as a choice we, as consenting adults, can make voluntarily without government coercion. In fact, without the Federal government intervening, we would probably still have a state with laws “regulating [voluntary] personal sexual behavior” between consenting adults.

California’s history of anti-gun legislation is all too common for me to explain in depth (especially with us being a pro-2A crowd.) However, even though California is constantly nudging that line between state sovereignty and the Bill of Rights, it is not state sovereignty that is keeping that line solid.

Let us remember this as we fight for states rights and state sovereignty. Let us not slide too far into extremist ideas of 50 independent nation-States, ideas not even our Founders agreed with. Instead, let us keep everything in perspective and let us keep the Tenther movement honest to itself. The 10th amendment is our last hope for peaceful resolution of the question of omnipotent State. But, it is only our last line of peaceful defense if we don’t let it slip out of our hands by abusing the idea.

In the end, states are only sovereign if they do not violate the Bill of Rights. After they have violated those rights, they no longer are sovereign and become just as guilty as the Federal government. It is at this point we need to be careful and watchful.

About Andrew Weit

I voted for Obama in 2008 and realize what a big mistake I made. I am now working to change this mistake and join the pro-Liberty tide that is the Ron Paul 2012 movement.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>