For any union to function effectively and persist over time, a balance must be achieved between the desires of each member and the necessities of the group as a whole. That is called the “consent of the governed” and is where most governments eventually fail.
Membership in any union has an admission price the value of which must be compared to the benefits of belonging. As part of the “citizen-government” compact, the fee is paid in “sovereignty units,” the only commodity each of us can use to bargain with groups and governments. If each person retains all his “sovereignty units,” there is anarchy because government cannot exist if it has no power. In a tyranny, the government confiscates all individual “sovereignty units,” so that each person becomes a slave to the ruling class.
One single paragraph from our Declaration of Independence contains the basic foundational concepts by which our nation was to be governed specifically to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
With his permission, I am publishing “A Tennessee Bill to Protect Federalism,” an essay by Hal Rounds in support of and in explanation of a Bill in the Tennessee Legislature to protect the concept of Federalism and, thereby, state sovereignty and individual freedom.
A Tennessee Bill to Protect Federalism
Commentary by Hal Rounds
It is rare for a state legislature to actually draft a bill that protects the structure of the original plan for uniting our States under our Constitution at its beginning in 1789. This year, just such a bill is being considered in the Tennessee Assembly.
The structure is “federal,” meaning that distinct, semi-independent members have joined together (“federated”) by creating one common agency, the “federal government,” to serve them. The states have not dissolved into one mass. The people of each state, one by one, agreed to transfer some of the powers of their state to the new federation to serve their common needs. But – each state remained distinct, retaining all the powers that each had before joining, except the powers in the list granted to the new federal government. By having a specific list (“enumeration”), the functions of this new federal government were specifically defined – and limited.
The powers authorized included forming and using an Army and Navy, coining money, setting up a postal service, regulating trade when goods crossed state borders (“commerce among the states”), and so forth. Local powers, like outlawing murder, or protecting property rights, providing education, and so forth, were not among the federal government’s enumerated powers, and still belonged to each state. The founding generation knew that putting too many powers into one place was the basic nature of tyranny. Each state was the bastion that kept its powers away from making the federal government too powerful.
To be effective, it was necessary to specify that the Constitution and the laws “made in pursuance thereof” had to be “the supreme law of the land.” That’s why the “supremacy clause” was put in the Constitution. These words also tell us that laws not “made in pursuance” of the few enumerated powers are not only not supreme but are not legitimate at all. The courts and other agencies have invented reasons to take additional powers, but there isn’t actually any authority for them.
So – how did the founders plan to keep the federal government from taking powers that were not authorized?
That is the job of the states, either together or separately. That is why the 10th Amendment says that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Yet, as observed in the Declaration of Independence, “. . . all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves . . .” by firmly reversing those overreaches.
But the duty to enforce the limits on an overreaching government exists even when long postponed. The Constitution of Tennessee begins by recognizing that “. . . the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind . . .” and that the people “. . . have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”
This year, in the Tennessee Assembly, Senate Bill 1092, filed by Senator Bowling, with its House version, HB 726, by Representative Hulsey, has risen to correct the overreaches we have tolerated too long, or ones we may face in the future. This “Restoring State Sovereignty Through Nullification Act” specifies in detail how Tennessee can correct those federal actions that exceed their authority.
The Act defines clearly what overreaches are, how they should be identified, who can present them to Tennessee courts for resolution, and how Tennessee can legally, peacefully and effectively nullify each such federal overreach, meaning “That said action, as being ultra vires (“outside authorized power”), is null and void in this state.”
It’s about time.
Trust in Freedom and Resist Tyranny!
More about Hal Rounds:
Born in California, Hal grew up in Los Angeles suburbs, graduating from Granada Hills High School. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a BA in Economics degree in 1966. That was also the first time he was old enough to vote, and he cast that vote for Ronald Reagan – for Governor of California.
He entered the Air Force in 1967, training as an officer in munitions, and was assigned to Viet Nam in 1968, arriving at Bien Hoa Air Base soon after the Tet Offensive had begun. After a year’s service in Vietnam, he served the remainder of his military time in Washington State, and was honorably discharge with the rank of Captain.
After leaving the military, Hal moved to Memphis to work for Federal Express where he met Micki, and soon their long marriage began. Hal retired after 25 years at FedEx working in sales, customer service and global operations. At the age of 47, still working at FedEx, Hal began law school at the University of Memphis, getting his law degree at the age of 50. Hal practiced for some time before moving to Fayette County, Tennessee, retiring in 1999. He and Micki built their home in Fayette County themselves. They have 4 children and 6 grandchildren.
Hal has spent several years conducting “Constitution Refresher” classes across the country, to revive understanding of this foundation of our freedoms. He has been active as an involved citizen, and his articles and letters have been published in national and local journals, both in print and online. He has become increasingly involved in critical issues across Tennessee, from education and textbook content to seizures of property in the name of law enforcement, annexation, second Amendment rights and federal involvement in state issues.
His book, “American History as a Political Tool” describes in careful detail how a typical vendor, the “College Board” has crafted a curriculum for American History that delivers all the erosive content that is fashionable today for the “Cancel Culture” attack on our history, and against our kids’ foundation for their national identity. The end of the book proposes a curriculum concept that can help in rebuilding an accurate view of America’s beneficial role in the history of the world. It is available on Amazon.