South Dakota Legislature: Commitment to Freedom Too Much to Ask?

John Adams advocates for freedom in the HBO miniseries "John Adams"

After the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee shot down the Health Care Freedom Act last week, I received some replies from committee members to my earlier email urging passage of the bill.  Several of my friends who had written to committee members in support of this bill forwarded responses they had received to me as well.

Without fail, each and every one of the responses from committee members contained expressions of seeming desire to shield South Dakotans from ObamaCare, but a uniform expression of powerlessness to do so. I hate to say this of elected representatives and fellow Republicans, but these responses exemplified an astonishing lack of understanding of the U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, federalism, and lawful authority. In many cases, I felt as if I was reading regurgitated propaganda from liberal blogs.

At best, some put all of their hopes in lawsuits that may take years to finally decide at the U.S. Supreme Court, and which even there may not uphold the liberty of the people.  They seemed to have no concept of the importance of bringing every argument, every ounce of weight that we can possibly bring against the assault of ObamaCare so that we can protect from its incursions today, and better ensure a favorable judicial decision down the road.

Even more troubling than this reticence, however, was the impression that these naysayers believe the federal government has the final say on everything in our lives, some even going so far as to say unelected judges are the ultimate arbiters of what can and can’t be done in America.

If we want to remain a free people, we would do well to remember that the judiciary, to which some apparently defer as a source of moral authority, once decided that a human being could be considered “property.” Sacred precedent?  No, this is not the source of authority in America either: one minute a human being is property, the next he is not, one minute the life of an unborn child is protected, the next a human being is relegated to being simply a “choice,” one minute sodomy is recognized for the immoral behavior it is, the next it is protected.  No, “precedent” is only as sacred as the character level of the next set of judges says it is.  This is no more a reliable arbiter of truth than it is the source of authority in American government.

I would remind my misguided and uninformed fellows: from where does all authority for our government spring?  The United States Constitution, of course. Who wrote the constitution, and from whom does it derive its authority? They need only read the first three words to find out:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the people.  We the people of the United States.

Not our “role models” in socialist Europe.

Not unelected judges.

Not the president of the United States.

Not the congress of the United States.

Not Ivy League professors at elitist universities.

Not liberals in the “mainstream” media.

No.  We the people.

We the people have ordained and established this Constitution for the United States of America.

And when people in our federal government created by that Constitution established by we the people…when people in our government overstep the limits of authority delegated to them by “we the people,” who must correct them?”

Obviously they cannot be trusted to correct themselves. If we could trust them, they never would have usurped power from the people in the first place by writing such an unconstitutional bill.  If we could have trusted the president, he never would have signed the bill into law.  If we could trust the judiciary, we would not already have the legion of unconstitutional wealth redistribution programs that we have, spending over a trillion dollars a year without constitutional authority.

If we cannot trust anyone in the federal government to restore constitutional government, who must do this?  “We the people” of course.  It is our Constitution. It is our government. The duty to end lawlessness and restore the Constitution to its rightful place as the highest law of our land falls to us.

Organized as we are by states in the union of the United States, the next logical stage at which we the people can and should exercise our will to stop lawbreaking at the federal level is in our legislatures.

The states are not powerless bodies.  State governments are not mindless extensions of federal authority.  The states are not servants of the federal government. No, the states are partners with the federal government in the governance of the American people.

Remember that it was the states who came together in 1787 and created the United States Constitution. Remember that the US Constitution required the ratification or approval of two-thirds of the 13 states to become the supreme law of our land, and that ratification was not a foregone conclusion; 85 essays known as the Federalist Papers were written by three of the architects of the Constitution to explain it and urge ratification.  Remember that when the Bill of Rights was added, the Tenth Amendment made it clear even beyond the limits of Article 1 Section 8 (the enumerated powers) that the federal government does NOT have authority to do whatever it wants.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

No, any powers not delegated to the federal government in Article 1 Section 8 are reserved to the states and the people–NOT the whims of social-engineering, wealth-redistributing socialists in the federal government.

Many Republicans allowed themselves to be cowed by liberal hysteria over “nullification” and liberal attempts to inextricably link nullification with the pro-slavery elements of the early 19th Century, as well as the faux spectre of “secession.”  This link was deliberate on the part of socialist liberals who know most people are scared to death of being even remotely associated with slavery (unfounded charges of racism against Tea Party patriots became the liberal mantra of the last two years for that very reason).

Yet liberal defenders of ObamaCare “conveniently” forget that the concept of nullification of unconstitutional laws goes back much farther than the debates over slavery.  It goes back to the time of our second president and the passage of the unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts which constituted an egregious assault on freedom of speech.  Thomas Jefferson and “Father of the Constitution” James Madison talked of the nullification from or interposition of the states against unconstitutional laws.

And no, opponents of unconstitutional ObamaCare are not the slightest bit interested in secession.  Opponents of ObamaCare want to repair the breach of our Constitution and restore our great nation to constitutional government, not leave this great country.  Leaving our country is an action more appropriate for those who spurn our Constitution and American principles.

We have a written constitution for a particular reason: to preserve a particular set of American principles and to ensure a group of unscrupulous men do not whisk away the freedom of the American people under the guise of “helping” them. Thomas Jefferson said it well when he warned against attempting to make the Constitution “a blank paper by construction,” and stated that the purpose of a written constitution is

to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.

Also, if reading the enumerated powers of Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution was not enough to get the picture, “Father of the Constitution” James Madison spells out that the federal government’s scope of authority is limited and primarily oriented toward matters external to the union of states:

The powers delegated by the Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the states.

Military personnel and veterans understand the concept of a lawful order and an unlawful order. Theoretically, all military orders should be lawful just as all laws of any type should, ideally, be moral.  Unfortunately we know that, in a fallen world where evil ever seeks supremacy over the heart of man, this is not always the case. So while a general may lawfully order a private to shoot an armed enemy combatant, that same general may not order a private to shoot an unarmed civilian; such an order would be unlawful.  In fact, if the private goes ahead and fires on an unarmed civilian per the general’s order, he can and should be prosecuted.  He cannot be excused by saying, “The general told me to.”  No, it is the private’s responsibility to be familiar with the law of armed conflict and not engage in unlawful conduct–even when ordered to by a higher authority.

Likewise, ObamaCare is an unlawful law. How can a law itself be unlawful?  When it conflicts with a higher law. Article 1 Section 8 provides authority to raise revenue for the 16 enumerated powers of the federal government:

  • To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
  • To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
  • To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
  • To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
  • To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
  • To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
  • To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
  • To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
  • To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
  • To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
  • To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
  • To provide and maintain a Navy;
  • To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
  • To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
  • To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
  • To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings

You will note that there is no authority here for the federal government to establish or administer a system of wealth redistribution–which is what ObamaCare does.  You will note that there is no authority here for the federal government to establish or administer a system of charity–which, as a wealth redistribution mechanism, is what ObamaCare does.  You will note that there is no authority here for the federal government to establish or administer a health care system–which is what ObamaCare does.  You will note that there is no authority here for the federal government to mandate that free American citizens purchase a product they may not need and do not want–which is what ObamaCare does.

In other words, ObamaCare ignores the limits on the federal government established by the U.S. Constitution and attempts to trample on multiple freedoms of the American people.

Are the states obligated to stand by and do nothing more than complain and pass impotent “resolutions” while the federal government assaults the citizens of their state?  Heaven forbid!  State governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from assault by the federal government, just as they have an obligation to protect their citizens from being assaulted by anyone–a foreign government, a corporation, an advocacy group, a mob or another individual.

Our state leaders are required to swear

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of South Dakota, and will faithfully discharge the duties of (senator, representative or officer) according to the best of my abilities…

John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Independence, where the signers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for freedom.

The South Dakota oath of office does not specifically state it (normally it should not be an issue), but I would consider implicit in that oath the same dedication to support the U.S. Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” that federal officials swear–the same one I swore as a military serviceman.  It does not matter who is undermining the Constitution–whether the source be foreign or domestic, every American–especially elected officials at any level–has an obligation to protect our way of life against such threats.  We cannot rely on “someone else” to do our duty for us.

And as the lawsuits of 27 states illustrates, as the historic power-shifting vote of the American people in November showed, as the decisions of judges like U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson and U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson show…ObamaCare is an assault on the U.S. Constitution and the American way of life.

Several in the South Dakota Legislature dropped the torch of freedom last week. But they will have at least one more chance to get it right–and no, impotent “resolutions” are not enough.  A line in the sand with teeth on this side of it is necessary.

Those who founded our great nation some 234 years ago decided liberty was important enough to go to the mat against the most powerful empire on earth.  They did not “love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom.”  Rather, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor toward the struggle for freedom.

How can the leaders of South Dakota look themselves in the mirror and do any less? How can we, the free people of South Dakota, expect of them any less?

15 Responses to “South Dakota Legislature: Commitment to Freedom Too Much to Ask?”

  1. Well Said Bob!

    Please State Representatives and Senators, Federal Senators and Represenatives, Be true to your Oaths! If you don’t, you will be voted out just as quick as you were voted in!

  2. Thanks, Gwen. Based on comments from several friends and associates I’ve talked with over the last week, I believe this represents the sentiments of many South Dakotans. If so, I’m glad to be able to serve as your mouthpiece.

    Troubled times call for bold actions, not shrinking back. We have a LOT to lose.

  3. Thanks, Barb. I’m glad I could help articulate your sentiments in favor of our freedom!

  4. Keep hammering the message home. Maybe it will penetrate through the fog of baloney.

  5. Hi Bob
    This essay is excellent; good job. We have already linked to it on the CFL Inc. website but we would like to feature it in printed form. Would that be ok with you? Let me know.
    Barb Landers

  6. Great piece, Bob! It is quite sad that many who call themselves conservatives and Republicans do not understand this.

  7. Absolutely! If any other limited government patriot can benefit from it, I’m honored.