Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘tenth amendment’

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Posted by Richard on December 15, 2017

Today is the 226th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791, celebrated by freedom-loving Americans as Bill of Rights Day. But as Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center likes to point out, every day should be Bill of Rights Day.

The US Supreme Court is currently considering a case of huge importance to the Bill of Rights, specifically to the much-neglected Tenth Amendment. Read about it at SCOTUSblog.

With various provisions of the Bill of Rights continually under threat or violated with impunity, this would also be a good time to think about what we can do about that. The aforementioned Tenth Amendment Center provides some advice grounded in the words of Madison and Jefferson. Take a look, and consider making a donation to them today.

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Castle Rock, CO, refuses federal funds

Posted by Richard on May 17, 2016

Three cheers for Castle Rock, CO (population 55,000), located about 30 miles south of Denver. Its Town Council is refusing federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because of the onerous strings attached:

… At issue for the town was a new set of regulations, 377 pages in all, which gives the unelected HUD bureaucrats broad powers over grant recipient communities, including the power to reverse electoral decisions by local voters, change local zoning laws and force said communities to join regions against the its wishes.

Faced with the choice of refusing federal funds or submitting to increased federal intrusion into their local concerns, Castle Rock’s town government chose the former, reports SustainableFreedomLab.org. In a letter to local HUD applicants, mayor Paul Donahue explained that,

“If we continue to accept the HUD grants, we will be forced to prepare detailed taxpayer-financed studies of our schools, retail, housing, and other community aspects to HUD who will decide if our neighborhoods are “furthering fair housing.” That means that even though our town has never been found in violation of the anti-discrimination housing rules that have been law for over 50 years, HUD on a whim could force us to build low-income, government subsidized housing into our neighborhoods if HUD decides we aren’t racially balanced enough.”

In other words, Castle Rock’s town council has recognized that the new federal regulations are likely to be used not to mitigate actual instances of discriminatory behavior, but as politically-motivated means to produce politically-motivated ends. As Castle Rock’s letter acknowledged, far from being a paranoid hypothetical, this scenario has already played out in Westchester County, New York, where county leaders have been fighting a HUD directive to construct 750 affordable-housing units in established neighborhoods. But while Westchester County has sued to have this decision reversed – a suit that, to nobody’s surprise, was decided in the federal government’s favor by the federal government’s judge – it has not decided to refuse the HUD funds.

What Castle Rock has discovered, that Westchester County apparently has not, is that federal funds always come with strings attached, and the strongest string is invariably tied to local sovereignty. The Castle Rock town council has heroically identified this truth and has decided that the funds are not worth the cost. Donahue’s letter concludes,

“As a Town Council, we will resist all federal attempt to destroy our local sovereignty, be it from HUD, the EPA, or any other government agency. Council will always defend our resident’s right to make their own local decisions without federal interference. While I appreciate the many good works that are represented by your (the grant applicants’) programs, accepting onerous federal grant requirements, which harm our community, cannot be the price to pay for federal monies.”

Towns, cities, counties and states all across the country should take notice of what Castle Rock has done and should hasten to emulate its example.

Word. If you don’t take the feds’ money, they can’t attach the strings with which to control you, and you’ve effectively nullified their edicts.

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Will wonders never cease? Good bipartisanship!

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2012

Unlike the media talking heads and beltway pundits, I’m not a fan of bipartisanship. Usually, when members of the Stupid Party and the Evil Party join forces, the result is something that’s both stupid and evil. But in Colorado today, we have an example of bipartisanship worth cheering:

DENVER — Congresswoman Diana DeGette Friday formally introduced legislation in Congress aimed at resolving the uncertainty around states legalizing marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.

DeGette, a Denver Democrat, joined with Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman and other Republicans to introduce the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act”, which would exempt states where lawmakers or voters have legalized marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies the drug as a controlled substance.

Three cheers for DeGette, Coffman, and the colleagues who are joining them.

The passage of Amendment 64 is bringing the unlikeliest people together in support of the Tenth Amendment and is adding a whole new aspect to the concept of nullification.

BTW, I’m pretty certain that this is the first time I’ve ever said anything nice about DeGette, who’s my representative. I once observed that “she’s accomplished the difficult task of making me look back fondly at Pat Schroeder’s time in office.”

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Good news: Amendment 64 passes

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2012

Amidst the bad news for libertarians in Colorado tonight (Obama victory, Democrats retake state house) there was one big piece of good news. Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol, passed with 53% of the vote.

Unfortunately for those of us who could use a “pickup” in the wake of the depressing election results, state criminal penalties for pot possession won’t go away for a couple of months (of course, the federal penalties remain, and the Obama administration has enforced them more aggressively than the Bush administration did). And the first recreational-use pot stores won’t appear until 2014 (for some reason, the existing medicinal marijuana stores won’t be allowed to sell pot for non-medicinal use, which makes no sense to me).

Still, it’s an historic step forward. Now there will be a huge Tenth Amendment issue to be resolved. The Obama administration is already saying that the federal law classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug supersedes state law (but it’s not just a state statute, remember, it’s now a part of the state constitution). I expect lots of legal battles to come. This would be a good time to support the Tenth Amendment Center.

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Join the Obamacare Class Action lawsuit

Posted by Richard on July 31, 2010

Tennessee's attorney general refused to join the lawsuit filed by 22 states against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a.k.a., Obamacare, a.k.a. the government takeover of health care. So East Tennessean Van Irion, a constitutional attorney admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, decided to file suit himself and invited other Tennesseans to join him in a class action. Soon, people from all over the country were asking to join, and Irion opened up the class to all Americans.

Read about the Obamacare Class Action and, if you like the idea, sign on. Irion is handling the case pro bono and covering the court costs, so it needn't cost you anything. But he does accept voluntary donations, and $10 is suggested. I love the idea (although I acknowledge it's a bit quixotic), because it aims at the heart of the problem: 

The Obamacare Class Action (OCA) is a Federal lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on the basis that Congress does not have the authority under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to regulate the health care industry and is specifically barred from doing so by the 10th Amendment.

The OCA is unique among the many lawsuits filed against the PPACA. The 22 States that have joined lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of PPACA direct their challenges at the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the unequal treatment of different groups. While we agree that these aspects of the PPACA are unconstitutional, and we encourage the States challenges, the OCA challenges the PPACA in its entirety.

… The OCA lawsuit seeks to re-establish the original meaning of the enumerated powers and of the 10th Amendment by re-establishing that the Commerce Clause was intended to allow Congress only the authority to prevent one state from creating trade barriers to doing business with another state.

The chances of success in the courts are slim. Nevertheless, I think the case is extremely worthwhile. Irion already has over 25,000 plaintiffs. If that number rises into six figures and the case draws significant public attention, it can be a wonderful educational opportunity.

Van Irion is also a candidate for Congress in Tennessee's heavily Republican 3rd District. He appears to be a long-shot in the crowded Republican primary for the open seat (incumbent Zach Wamp is running for Governor). But I wish this self-described "Constitutionalist" well.

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The case for nullification and the zombie arguments against it

Posted by Richard on July 6, 2010

Tom Woods, whose latest book is Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, recently sat down for an interview with a zombie. The zombie articulated the standard arguments against nullification and any mention of so-called "states' rights" (actually, powers reserved to the states or the people by the 10th Amendment). Woods countered them rather effectively, in my opinion.

But it's hard to win an argument with a zombie. Especially if the subject of brains comes up. Enjoy this amusing and educational eight-minute "Interview with a Zombie." 


[YouTube link]

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Call or write your Congresscritter!

Posted by Richard on June 23, 2006

In the next few days, Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) will once again introduce an important amendment to the Science, State, and Justice spending bill. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from federally prosecuting medical marijuana patients and caregivers who are in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana law.

It was a little over a year ago that the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that federal law trumps state medical marijuana law and the 10th Amendment doesn’t mean what it says. At the time, I wrote:

In a nutshell, the Raich (medical marijuana) ruling means that Lopez was an abberation and that Wickard is alive and well. Damn it. It also means we have exactly one Supreme Court justice who can be counted on to stand by the Constitution — Clarence Thomas.

We also have some members of Congress, including good conservatives like Rohrabacher, who still stand by the Constitution. Unfortunately, too many Republicans mouth allegiance to "states’ rights," but run from the concept quickly when that eeeevilll cannabis — reefer madness! — comes up.

And too many Democrats say they’re sympathetic, but just can’t bring themselves to support even the slightest weakening of their beloved federal government (they still believe they’ll wrest control of it from the Rethuglicans soon — hah!).

Last year, Hinchey-Rohrabacher fell 57 votes short. And yet, polls and referenda consistently show that the American people overwhelmingly support state medical marijuana laws. It’s an election year — let’s put the pressure on and get Hinchey-Rohrabacher passed this time.

Please contact your representative. Americans for Safe Access has a very easy-to-use Take Action page. Just scroll to your state to see how its representatives voted last year. Click on your Congresscritter’s name, and it’ll take you to one of two Write Your Rep pages with appropriate suggested wording, based on their vote last year.

Or use the NORML Take Action page. Or the DRCNet Take Action page (use their Tell-A-Friend page to enlist your friends in the effort, too). Or go to the House website, look up your representative, and contact him or her directly.

In fact, calling your congresscritter’s office (in Washington or in your district) is probably the most effective step you can take. Sending a personally-written letter (snail mail) is next. Email is less effective, but better than nothing. Do take a few minutes to personalize the message, though. And try to remain polite, even if your Congresscritter deserves to be given what-for. 🙂
 

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