Elena Campbell: Another look at Big Government
The Interstate Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause have long since been used as carte blanche by the federal government to impose ever bigger initiatives on the American people. The danger is that while some may argue the initiatives of today have merit, there will come a day when the overstep is so egregious that even progressives will be unhappy with the accumulated power of the federal government.
Many scholars argue that interpretations of the Interstate Commerce and Supremacy Clauses have morphed into something far removed from their original intent. Those who are less happy with Big Government initiatives do, in fact, argue that “anything not specifically enumerated in the Constitution is reserved for the individual States and the people.”
Many Coloradans do not accept that the representatives of the people in far-away Washington are superior to the people themselves – and neither did our Founders. States did not agree to subordinate themselves to a supreme government when they entered the union. Indeed, the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments, were added to the Constitution as a condition of Ratification, and for the very purpose of ensuring individual State sovereignty.
When the 13 ratifying States were satisfied with these Bill of Rights protections, Alexander Hamilton stated, “There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.” This ipso facto principle, that unconstitutional law is no law at all, that it is void, trumps all else. But who decides what is constitutional?
The Supreme Court exists to interpret law. It is a reasonable arbiter in cases that arise between States or other parties. But, here’s the rub: The Supreme Court is itself a branch of the federal government. When there is a conflict between one of the several States and the federal government, how can this concerned party be the ultimate arbiter in the dispute? In any other circumstance, the judge would correctly recuse himself from hearing the case because the conflict of interest principle forbids a party from deciding his own cause.
The Supreme Court cannot reasonably preside over cases that pit the federal government against a state. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that if the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, it will continue to grow regardless of elections, or separation of powers.
The Founders’ remedy? The states acting for themselves, individually, have a duty to nullify unlawful federal legislation. Harking back to Hamilton’s criteria, Thomas Woods in his New York Times best-seller, “Nullification” explains: “If a law is unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect, it is up to the States, the parties to the federal compact, to declare it so and thus refuse to enforce it. It would be foolish and vain to wait for the federal government or a branch thereof to condemn its own law. Nullification provides a shield between the people of a state and an unconstitutional law from the federal government. … the federal government cannot be permitted to hold a monopoly on constitutional interpretation” [page 3.]
We all have a “dislike of fat cats” who are allowed to play by their own rules. Our difference lies in our trust of big government to reign in the fat cats. Progressives trust. We do not. Our belief is that it is big government itself that imposes Crony or State Capitalism that has gotten in the way of truly free enterprise, individual entrepreneurship, Main Street initiatives, and prosperity. Big Government is used as proxy by the monopolistic fat cats. Adherence to the constitutional law of our land as determined by member states, is all that stands between them and us.
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