by Diane Rufino, March 15, 2021
I propose the following State Sovereignty Resolution, or one similar to it, for my state of North Carolina. It is based on the themes addressed in my article “A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE” and aimed at affirming States’ Rights and condemning the encroachment of those rights by the federal government.
STATE SOVEREIGNTY RESOLUTION:
A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE GREAT STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA AFFIRMING STATES’ RIGHTS AND CONDEMNING ENCROACHMENT OF THOSE RIGHTS BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
**** Reference to the paper “A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,” by Diane Rufino, January 2021. [https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2021/01/23/a-re-declaration-of-independence/ ]
In the beginning, there were thirteen independent colonies. During the War for our Independence from Great Britain (the American Revolution), those thirteen independent colonies organized into thirteen independent states. On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, bringing the Revolutionary War to its final conclusion. Most noteworthy, in Article I, the King acknowledges the individual sovereignty and independence of all of those brave thirteen states. He acknowledged their right to exist as free and independence states.
Article 1 reads:
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, Propriety, and Territorial Rights of the same and every Part thereof.
From May through September, 1787, delegates from twelve of the thirteen states (minus Rhode Island) met in Philadelphia to draft a new constitution that each state found acceptable, one that created a suitable common government of limited powers, and that did not endanger its state sovereignty. When the Convention concluded on September 17, several delegates refused to sign it. And in fact, a good chunk of our Founding Fathers and state leaders were suspicious of the Constitution as written, fearing it would allow the central (federal) government to concentrate more power than originally intended and designed, it would encroach on and strip the states of their sovereign rights and powers, and most arguably, it did not contain enough direct limits on the power that the central government could exercise (ie, it did not contain a Bill of Rights, which, as Thomas Jefferson explained: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”). In each individual State Ratifying Convention, convention delegates had to address the criticisms, they had to add conditions, propose necessary amendments, and ultimately decide whether to adopt it or not. The debates and outcomes were so tenuous that a series of essays (85 of them) were written to explain the meaning, text, scope, and intent of all provisions of the Constitution. This series of essays is titled The Federalist Papers, with most of the essays written by James Madison (the main architect and drafter of the Constitution) and Alexander Hamilton. The States, in Convention, were meant to rely on the essays (the definitions, the text, the scope, and the intent) in their assessment of the Constitution, and they did. Reliance on such primary writings for meaning and intent, especially the very author and a delegate with intimate knowledge, is an essential legal doctrine in contract/compact law. The bottom line is that the Constitution would not have been ratified had James Madison not promised to add a Bill of Rights in the first session of Congress and had The Federalist Papers not assured the convention delegates of the limited nature of the Constitution.
In order to further and firmly limit the power and reach of the federal government over each State and over the individual, the States demanded and received a finely-drafted Bill of Rights. They prefaced those first ten amendments with a very important explanation of why they were, and needed to be, added. That Preamble reads:
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
With this Preamble in mind, the Tenth Amendment stands out in particular as one of the “declaratory clauses” designed to prevent misconstruction or abuse of federal power. It was clearly included to further remind the federal government of the federal nature of government (ie, “federalism”); to remind it of the relationship between Federal and state governments and the vital and critical role that division plays. The Tenth Amendment reads: “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.”
The division of government power between the two sovereigns – the States and the federal government (“dual sovereignty”;” sovereign v. sovereign”) is the final and most powerful of all our checks and balances on the federal government. Each is sovereign and possessor of the powers belonging to it – as outlined generally in the Tenth Amendment – and as such, has the inherent and natural right to be a jealous guardian of those powers and to defend them from encroachment or usurpation by the other. The principle of checks and balances, in this particular case of “federalism,” is that each sovereign has power to limit or check the other (just as each branch of government has the ability to check the other two), to keep the federal government, in general, limited to the powers delegated specifically to it in the US Constitution. This principle induces one branch to prevent either of the other branches from becoming supreme, thereby securing political liberty. The philosopher Montesquieu wrote about this concept during the Enlightenment period in his book The Spirit of the Laws (1748).
In 1861, President Lincoln did the unthinkable…… as a single man, purporting to speak for the entire country and for our very Founding Fathers, he re-interpreted the Constitution as a document written and intended to create a perpetual union. Of course, this was the opposite interpretation. All original sources prove this, most especially the Declaration of Independence (itself a “secessionist” document). Audaciously, Lincoln characterized the secession of the Southern States not for what it really was (an act of secession – of separation from the federated union) but as an act of rebellion, justifying his invasion and submission (subjugation, many will say) of the Confederate States. To accomplish his goal of waging war in order to re-unite the South and preserve the union, Lincoln violated the Constitution in countless and palpable ways. The end result was the large, consolidated, all-powerful, and ambitious government we have today. Instead of the limited government designed and given to us by our Founders, Lincoln ushered in the era of the omnipotent federal government we know today.
And then there was the coup de grace….. The judges who sit on the benches of our federal courts, most especially the US Supreme Court, decided to treat the Constitution as a living, breathing document, instead of as a compact – permanent memorialization of the people’s government. In doing so, they have released themselves from their constitutional oath (to strictly “interpret” the document) and have allowed themselves to re-interpret, re-define, and transform its meaning and scope as they please, thereby going around the legal, constitutional process – Article V. And thus, the Supreme Court has completed the federal monopoly over the meaning, intent, and scope of its powers in the Constitution. The federal government now has a monopoly over its own power and its existence – a far cry from what the States intended and declared in the Declaration of Independence. Where are the umpires in the federal courts for the States?
For a state that prides itself in the nickname “First in Freedom,” it would be a travesty and disgrace, not to mention a betrayal of our state’s history, for North Carolina to continue to accept the current course of tyranny by the federal government.
“First in Freedom” is a slogan referring to the action of an assembly of representatives in colonial Halifax, North Carolina, the Fourth North Carolina Provincial Congress, that adopted a nonimportation agreement, or set of resolutions, on November 2, 1769. The Halifax Resolves were unanimously adopted by all 83 delegates assembled. This document “took measures for preserving the true and essential interests of the province,” according to Assembly Speaker John Harvey. The action was in line with the sentiments of many other colonies, which were resisting such measures as the Stamp Act, an act allowing Parliament the right to levy taxes in the colonies. This was reputedly the first time such a legislative body took action in protest of Parliament’s right to tax the colonies. Some historians believe that the slogan “First in Freedom” refers to the Halifax Resolves, adopted by North Carolina on April 12, 1776, which was the first official state action urging a declaration of independence from England. From ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH CAROLINA edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press]. The slogan perhaps also includes a reference to the Mecklenburg Resolves, or Charlotte Town Resolves, which were a list of statements adopted at Charlotte, in Mecklenburg County, on May 31, 1775. They were drafted in the month following the fighting at Lexington and Concord, fearing that the British would attempt the same subjugation over the colonists in North Carolina. The Resolves annulled and vacated all laws originating from the authority of the King or Parliament and ended recognition of the Crown’s power in the colony of North Carolina and all other American colonies. It became the first colony to formally do so, taking place about a year before the Halifax Resolves were passed by the Fourth North Carolina Provincial Congress. The two dates – corresponding to the adoption of the Halifax Resolves and the Mecklenburg Resolves – are proudly included on the NC state flag.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA:
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the State of North Carolina declares that “the great, general, and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established….” It then goes on to list 38 individual rights in its “Declaration of Rights” (Section 1) – far more than recognized by the federal government in the US Constitution;
WHEREAS, North Carolina’s right to recognize the “great and essential principles of liberty and free government” may never be denied or delegated to the United States Congress;
WHEREAS,, “The Creator has made the earth for the living, not for the dead. Rights and powers can only belong to persons, not to things.” (Thomas Jefferson). Rights and powers do not originate or belong to a government, unless that power is exercised for the People – on behalf of them – and NOT against them;
WHEREAS,, the several States, by a compact under the style and title “Constitution for the United States,” and of amendments thereto, voluntarily constituted a general government for special common purposes;
WHEREAS,, the several States are parties to the compact (Constitution), with the people of said States acting in their own conventions to consider, debate, deliberate, and ratify it;
WHEREAS, on November 21, 1789, the General Assembly, meeting in Fayetteville, ratified the United States Constitution, relying on guarantees and definitions in The Federalist Papers as well as the addition of a Bill of Rights, making North Carolina the twelfth state to adopt it and to join the second union of States (The Articles of Confederation establishing the first union). The Constitution, without contestation, is a compact created and established among fellow States;
WHEREAS, a compact, contract, (and even a treaty) are defined by contact law and legally must be implemented consistent with the terms and understandings in place at the time it is entered into;
WHEREAS,, our government structure is predicated on separation of powers between the States, as sovereigns, and the federal government, which is sovereign with respect to only certain responsibilities (Article I, Section 8; express language, as re-affirmed in the state ratifying conventions and the Federalist Papers, the leading authority on the meaning and intent of the Constitution);
WHEREAS,, this separation of powers, known as federalism, is a critical feature of our government system, intended to safeguard the “precious gem” of individual liberty by limiting government overreach;
WHEREAS,, there is no provision in the Constitution nor any grant of delegated power by which the States can be said to have (willingly or intentionally) surrendered their sovereignty, for it is clear that no State would have ratified the document and the Union would not have been established;
WHEREAS,, the States were too watchful to leave the opportunity open to chance and using an abundance of caution, insisted that a series of amendments be added, including the Tenth Amendment, as a condition of ratification and formation of the Union;
WHEREAS,, the Preamble to the Bill of Rights expressed the unambiguous intention of those amendments, and reads: “The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution”;
WHEREAS,, that relationship between the states and the federal government is defined by the Tenth Amendment, which reads: “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”;
WHEREAS,, the critical relationship has been eroded through the many Supreme Court decisions which have transferred power from the States to the federal government in order to enlarge its sphere of influence;
WHEREAS,, the relationship has been further eroded by the dependence that States have on the federal government for funding;
WHEREAS,, the Supreme Court has upheld the notion that the government “has the power to fix the terms upon which its money allotments to states shall be disbursed” (South Dakota v. Dole, 1987) and therefore has upheld its conditioned funds to the states as permissible (as a matter of contract law);
WHEREAS, with the blessing of the Supreme Court, the government can achieve through conditioned spending that which it cannot achieve constitutionally, thereby allowing it to do an end-run on the Constitution and to avoid its limitations under the Tenth Amendment;
WHEREAS,, the federal government has made itself the exclusive and final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, and as such, its need for power and its discretion – and not the Constitution – have been guiding those decisions.
WHEREAS,, the federal government has created for itself an absolute monopoly over the nature and scope of its powers and has consistently assumed powers it wasn’t meant to have – misappropriating them from the States and from the People;
WHEREAS,, the federal government has used said monopoly to change the nature of the Constitution, to redefine its terms, and to re-establish boundaries of government on the individual without using the lawful route, Article V;
WHEREAS,, the particular security of the people is in the possession of a written and stable Constitution. The branches of the federal government, acting in unison rather than apprehension, have made it a blank piece of paper by construction;
WHEREAS,, the government, once populated by representatives who were primarily beholden to the interests of the people and the States, is now populated by representatives who are primarily beholden to the interests of the government;
WHEREAS,, through the consolidation and concerted action of its branches and said monopoly, the federal government has transformed itself into a strongly centralized, bloated national government, vested with illegitimate powers and barely recognizable as the government intended by our creators and adopted by the States in the years of our founding. This bloated central government is coercive, wasteful, corrupt, and out of touch with the People. Less than one quarter of the people trust it, most are afraid of it, and those who are required to support it by paying federal income taxes believe they are paying too much and question the legitimacy of the purposes for which it taxes and spends. Most importantly, the government is one that poses serious threats to the exercise of the freedoms that Americans are deemed to be endowed with;
WHEREAS,, the direct consequence of a government that has enlarged its powers and functions is that it requires a larger budget and therefore has to tax its citizens more;
WHEREAS,, with respect to federal grants and other forms of funding, if the government’s budget includes funds to “bribe” the states and otherwise attempt to influence state policy or planning, then it clearly overtaxes its citizens. Bribing the states or otherwise paying for any of its internal functions or projects is not one of the objects for which Congress can tax and spend under the Constitution, even if said bribe is cloaked in contract terms. The states are so financially strapped that there is effectively no “choice” involved in accepting grants of funding from the federal government and essentially, the offer amounts to an act of coercion. The government is absolutely forbidden to coerce a state government or its agents;
WHEREAS,, the power to prevent the further consolidation of powers in the central government and the right of judging on infractions of inherent powers is a fundamental attribute of sovereignty which cannot be denied to the States, and therefore they must be allowed to do so;
WHEREAS, North Carolina has an inherent right and a national duty to exercise its sovereign power under the Tenth Amendment, to take back any and all sovereign power that has been hijacked or usurped from it by the federal government for the past 200 years or more, to assume its vital obligation under our system of checks and balances, and to review acts of the federal government for constitutionality and to place legal checks on its abuse;
THEREFORE, to that end, North Carolina is asserting, or re-asserting, its sovereignty. It will no longer tolerate the abusive acts, policies, executive orders, unconstitutional rulings by federal courts, etc by the federal government. The future of our republic, the integrity of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and indeed the continued security of liberty, depends on North Carolina doing so.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA:
(1) That the several States of the United States are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to general government, but by ratifying the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, they constituted a general government for special purposes and delegated to that government certain definite powers, while reserving all other rights.
(2) That when the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are void and of no force.
(3) That the government created by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights was not granted the right to determine the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, the measure of its powers.
(4) That the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting of the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, felonies committed on the high seas, offenses against the law of nations, slavery, and no other crimes.
(5) That all acts of Congress that assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those enumerated in the federal constitution and Bill of Rights, are void and of no force.
(6) That the power to create, define, and punish other crimes is reserved by the States.
(7) That power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press remains and is reserved by the States or the people, allowing States the right to judge how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom and how far those abuses, which cannot be separated from their use, should be tolerated, rather than allowing the use to be destroyed.
(8) That States are guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises and retain the right of protecting the same.
(9) That all acts of the US Congress that abridge freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press are not law and are void.
(10) That power over the freedom of the right to keep and bear arms was reserved to the States and to the people, allowing states the right to judge how far infringements on the right to bear arms should be tolerated, rather than allowing that exercise to be defined by Congress.
(11) That States and the people are guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the right to keep and bear arms and retain the right of protecting that right.
(12) That all acts of Congress that abridge the right to bear arms are not law and are void.
(13) That right and power to determine morality and social progressivism is reserved by the States or the people under its historic “police powers,” allowing States the right to judge how fast to change the character of their society
(14) That Congress’s interpretation of those parts of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights that delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States” and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof” has attempted to destroy the limits of its power.
(15) That those parts of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, detailed in subsection (14), must not be construed to give unlimited powers to the federal government, and that Congress’s inappropriate interpretation must be revised and corrected.
(16) That if North Carolina accepts these inappropriate interpretations and continues to allow Congress to exercise unbridled authority, it would be surrendering its own form of government.
(17) That the people of this State will not submit to undelegated and consequently unlimited powers.
(18) That every State has a right to nullify all assumptions of power by others within their limits, and that without this right, States would be under the dominion and power of anyone who might try to exercise that power.
(19) That it would be a dangerous delusion to silence people’s fears for the safety of their rights.
(20) That North Carolina calls on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the United States Constitution.
(21) That the rights and liberties of North Carolina and its co-States must be protected from any dangers by declaring that Congress is limited by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights.
(22) That any act by the Congress of the United States, any federal policy, any Executive Order of the President of the United States, or any Judicial Order of the United States that assumes a power not delegated by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights diminishing the liberty of this state or its citizens constitutes a nullification of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights by the government of the United States, which would also breach North Carolina’s compact with its fellow States. Acts that would cause a nullification and a breach include but are not limited to:
(a) establishing martial law or a state of emergency within a state without the consent of the legislature of that State;
(b) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war or pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;
(c) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;
(d) surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government;
(e) any act regarding religion, further limitations on freedom of political speech, or further limitations on freedom of the press; or
(f) any act regarding the right to keep and bear arms or further limitations on the right to bear arms, including any restrictions on the type or number of firearms or the amount or type of ammunition any law-abiding citizen may purchase, own, or possess.
(22) That if any act of Congress becomes law or if an Executive Order or Judicial Order is put into force related to the reservations expressed in this resolution, North Carolina’s compact with its fellow States is breached and all powers previously delegated to the United States by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights revert to the States individually.
(23) That any future government of the United States shall require ratification of three-fourths of the states seeking to form a government and shall not be binding upon any state not seeking to form a government.
(24) That the Secretary of State send copies of this resolution to the President of the United States and to each member of the United States Congress.
– END –
Diane Rufino, “A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,” January 2021. Referenced at: [https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2021/01/23/a-re-declaration-of-independence/
Diane Rufino, “State Escrow Accounts to Curb Federal Spending,” November 8, 2015 [https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2015/11/09/the-rightful-remedy-to-curb-federal-spending-state-escrow-accounts/ ].
Diane Rufino, “NULLIFICATION: The Rightful Remedy to Curb Federal Spending,” November 8, 2015.
Montana House Joint Resolution No. 26 Affirming States’ Rights –
Montana House Joint Resolution No. 26 Affirming States’ Rights –
Mecklenburg Resolves (May 20, 1775) – http://www.ruralhill.net/Declaration.asp
Text of The Treaty of Paris (1783), from Our Documents website – https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=6&page=transcript
Mecklenburg Resolves, Wikipedia. Referenced at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecklenburg_Resolves
Ginny Orvedahl, “First in Freedom,” NCPedia.org, 2006. From ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH CAROLINA edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.org. Referenced at: https://www.ncpedia.org/first-freedom
Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina: A History (1973).
Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).
Connor, R. D. W. History of North Carolina. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co. 1919. https://archive.org/stream/historyofnorthca01conn#page/334/mode/2up
Connor, R. D. W. “John Harvey” The North Carolina Booklet 8. Number 1. July 1908. p. 3-42. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/u?/p249901coll37,14116 (accessed August 16, 2012).