Regardless of what some people think, I’m not the brightest of light bulbs in the room. In other words, I don’t consider myself that damn smart. There is, however, one thing I am…stubborn. My wife says that I am matigas ng olo, which means hard headed. You see, when there is something that I really want to accomplish I simply don’t give up until I have achieved my goal. When I was in high school I tried out for wrestling and tennis. I was never really any good an either but on one occasion in each sport I decided that I was NOT going to go the entire season without a win. I dug my heals in and fought like hell until I did what I had set out to do…WIN.
The same goes for when I want to learn something. I will devote untold hours studying the subject matter until I believe I have a firm grasp of it. It’s like what Alexander Hamilton once said, “Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind. I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it… the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”
So the ONLY reason I may know more about our system of government and the men who created it is because I cared enough to devote the time, and effort, it took to learn it. What gets me is that our system of government is not that hard to understand. Sure some of the writings of our Founders may be difficult to read, as are the writings of the men who inspired them. But how our government was set up is pretty straightforward.
We the people, at least those that lived in the late 18th century in the original 13 states, existed before our government was created. It was by their will, regardless of whether each individual had a hand in drafting the Constitution or not, that our government came into existence. Before that they were sovereign and freemen.
People say that the Constitution is a compact between the government and the people, or possibly the state legislatures which ratified it. That is not so, as Thomas Paine explains in his book The Rights of Man, “A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government.”
As I stated, the people were sovereign, and it was by their authority that the Constitution was agreed to and our government came into existence. Thomas Jefferson once said that “The constitution of most of the states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people…” This is a fact which has been upheld numerous times by the Supreme Court.
In the 1794 case of Glass v. Sloop Betsy the Court ruled, “The sovereignty of a state does not reside in the persons who fill the different departments of its government, but in the People, from whom the government emanated; and they may change it at their discretion. Sovereignty, then in this country, abides with the constituency, and not with the agent; and this remark is true, both in reference to the federal and state government.”
Almost 150 years later, in the Supreme Court case of Perry v. United States, the Court ruled, “In the United States, sovereignty resides in the people who act through the organs established by the Constitution. … The Congress as the instrumentality of sovereignty is endowed with certain powers to be exerted on behalf of the people in the manner and with the effect the Constitution ordains. The Congress cannot invoke the sovereign power of the people to override their will as thus declared.”
If you’ll notice in their ruling, the Court stated that Congress is endowed with certain powers. It does not say unlimited, it says certain. When James Madison stood before the Virginia delegation, trying to convince them to vote in favor of this new Constitution, he declared the following, “[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”
Like I said, I’m not the smartest person in the world, but even I can understand that what Madison said is that the powers granted to this government were not unlimited, they were ENUMERATED. I hate to sound condescending, but I know some people may not know what that word, enumerated, means. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary it means to list things one after another.
So, if our government only has certain powers, then they must be found somewhere in the Constitution. They are found in Article 1, Section 8, and there are only 17 of them. I won’t go over them as that would bore you. But you might be surprised if you happen to read what they are. An overwhelming majority of the laws enacted by Congress today exceeds the powers WE gave to our government.
Yet I constantly hear arguments, and references made regarding the general welfare. Speaking before the House of Representatives in 1792 James Madison stated, “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress… Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”
I added the emphasis in that last line because it is important that you understand that the government we now have has expanded its scope of powers way beyond those the people originally gave then, and it has transmuted, [changed it into something completely different], than the one established over 200 years ago. I can say without a doubt that could our Founders see us now they would be asking themselves why we have not revolted against this oppressive government that regulates every aspect of our lives and infringes upon our unalienable rights.
You see, there is one other thing that Madison said that you need to understand. He simply stated that “The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.”
In his Memorial and Remonstrance, Madison clearly said, “The preservation of a free government requires, not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained, but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people.” Although the phrase metes and bounds may sound unfamiliar to us in these modern times, it merely means boundaries. Therefore what Madison was trying to say was that for our government to remain free it MUST NOT cross over and violate our rights, particularly those specified in the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
Getting back to our government in general, it was established with 3 distinct branches. The Legislative, or Congress, was the body which wrote the laws. The Executive, or the President, executed the laws, or made sure they were properly enacted and enforced. And finally the Supreme Court heard all arguments that may arise under the Constitution.
It was NEVER intended that they be interpreters of the law, merely that they apply it fairly and judiciously. In an 1820 letter Thomas Jefferson voiced his concerns over the power held by the Supreme Court, “You seem to consider the judges the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges … and their power [are] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and are not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves … . When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity. The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. …. ”
It was a simple construction, our government, but for it to function as it was intended the people absolutely had to be involved, AND hold on to the principles which limited its power and authority. The moment they began allowing it to assume undelegated powers it had the potential to become as oppressive, or even worse, than the one our Founders fought a Revolution to free themselves from.
I constantly hear people argue that times have changed and that our Constitution must change with them. Two things. First, something the Supreme Court said back in 1905, “The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.”
Secondly, something George Washington said, “If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
Although we have not openly agreed to any changes to the Constitution via the amendment process, we have, by our acceptance of these many laws which regulate our lives, infringe upon our rights, and demand that we obey them under penalty of criminal prosecution…or worse, have allowed our government to grow far beyond its original scope and size, and to become quite oppressive.
Why have we done this? Well, there are a couple reasons. One is that we believe everything we hear about national emergencies and emergency powers. Therefore, most of the people who are ignorant as to what the Constitution actually says, go along with these new laws because our government tells us it is for our own safety, our own good.
Daniel Webster, a United States Senator prior to the commencement of the Civil War, stated plainly that “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”
But if that isn’t enough to convince you, in 1934 the Supreme Court ruled, “Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency.”
But it takes more than simply hearing that our government feels that some emergency requires they assume powers it was never intended they have. It takes our fear of some supposed threat, be it terror, economical, or even something regarding our personal safety before we will allow our government to enact laws which restrict our activities, and infringe upon our rights.
Fear is the key, and we have all fallen prey to it. The media plays a big part in this as they are the lap dogs of the powers that be and keep us in a constant state of fear so that we will more readily accept these unconstitutional statues enacted by our government.
In Burma, from 1990 to 2010 there was an opposition leader who was imprisoned for her outspoken views against the existing government. Her name was Aung San Suu Kyi. In something entitled Freedom from Fear she writes, “Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man’s self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”
Or, as the character V in the movie V for Vendetta declared, “…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you…”
Your fear, our collective fear, be it of another terrorist attack, an economic collapse, or just another shooting in a public place, has paralyzed our reasoning and caused us to support any and all measures that those in power say are for our own good. In doing so we have sacrificed our most precious possession, our liberty. You say your life may be your most precious possession, but try saying that if you are confined in a 10 by 10 prison cell with no access to the outside world. What good is life without the freedom to enjoy it?
We, and by we, I mean those of us who constantly speak out against the actions of our government and the encroachments upon our rights, are all bunched together in the category of radicals or tin foil hat conspiracy theorists. Yet we have the law on our side.
First the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land clearly states what powers we have granted the government. It matters not whether they adhere to the limitations imposed upon them they are, in fact the criminals, not us. I can prove this by quoting from the United States Code, [the official system of laws for the United States], wherein it says that anyone who enacts a law which infringes upon a right is guilty of a crime.
In Title 18 of the U.S.C., sections 241, it states the following:
§241 If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same…They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both…”
Now I would say that the legislature, be it at the state or federal level, constitutes a body of two or more persons…wouldn’t you? Therefore if they enact a law which violates, or infringes upon, our rights, they are guilty of a crime. But where is the means of punishing them when the courts are just as corrupt as the lawmakers?
Well, we don’t have to punish them, we can simply refuse to obey their laws.
I have used this quote before, but now it takes on even more meaning because it may be our only recourse in the face of a government that is, apparently, arming itself to the teeth. Some of you may have heard about the Dept. of Homeland Security buying up billions of rounds of hollow point ammo. For those of you unfamiliar with firearms, hollow point ammo is not normally used for target practice, it is used against people to provide the most damage to the intended victim. Just recently the Dept. of Agriculture made a purchase of fully automatic rifles with 30 round magazines and all the other bells and whistles that accompany a fully militarized unit. Why are they arming themselves, and against whom do they intend to use these weapons? This ought to frighten you, but that would presuppose you even knowing about it, which of course you won’t because the news media is not reporting about it. But you can Google it and verify it for yourself if you don’t trust me.
Again, getting back to my point, they are arming themselves while our country sinks deeper into debt and they pass more and more oppressive laws. So what can we do? Well, we can start by stop obeying their laws. We have the authority to do so. Remember how I began this, that all power is inherent in the people?
Well there is a little thing called American Jurisprudence. It is an Encyclopedia of law. In the 16th edition, Section 177, it states, “The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.
Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it …
A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby.
No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.”
But that takes courage, the courage to stand for your convictions and not fear the consequences. If you do so you may face arrest, or worse. But if the people of this country were educated and had the courage to stand up for their rights, no jury on earth would convict a man for standing up for his rights.
John Jay, our nation’s very first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wrote, “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” While Harlan Stone, our nations 12th Chief Justice said basically the same thing, “The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.”
Therefore, if the people of this country would educate themselves, AND grow a spine, we might be able to put a halt to these encroachments upon our liberty. But I don’t see that happening, not in sufficient numbers to make a difference anyway. And hence the title of this article, No, I’m not mad, I’m disgusted. George Washington once said that the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty was staked upon the experiment entrusted to the American people. Well, in our search for self gratification and an endless stream of entertainment we have forgotten what it means to be free men. And as Samuel Adams said, “May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”