Constitutionally Speaking

The book club in Albany is currently reading the 5000 Year Leap. The book is a simple read about the founders of this country and the principles that they considered when writing our founding documents.

After reading the book, it is clear that this country has abandoned many of those principles. Currently we are on a fast track, not to return to the original intention of the founders, but to distance ourselves even farther from that intention.

How can we get back to the garden? A new effort is being entertained by the states. Resolutions are being passed to return the power to the respective states and limit the size of the federal government, States’ Rights.

Georgia Senate Resolution 632 passed, “affirming states’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles; and for other purposes.” Nine states have passed similar resolutions and twenty-five others have resolutions calling for states’ rights pending.

A few states have taken the measure a step further. Montana has passed a bill (HB 246) that would allow guns and ammunition that are produced in the state and remain in the state to be regulated by the state, not the federal government. The bill will become law on October 10, 2009 and is suspected to be challenged by the Supreme Court shortly after. Texas is considering similar legislation.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution states that the federal government has the power, “…to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;” Because the federal government gets its power from the states according to the Tenth Amendment, the government has no power to regulate intrastate commerce. This should prove to be a fascinating court case when the law is challenged.

There is talk about calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal or alter Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 which gives the federal government the power to collect taxes. It is believed that such a Constitutional Convention, or even the threat of one, will help to curtail the spending spree that the federal government is currently enjoying.

All of this talk of States’ Rights is fascinating, but I have to wonder if these resolutions are just words on paper. Since the War Between the States, the states have surrendered more and more of their power to the central government until state boundaries have become little more than historical lines on a map. Are these resolutions too little too late or are they the beginning of something big? Time will tell.