The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns federalism, just one of the genius ideas in the United States Constitution. The basic concept of federalism is a form of government where there is a balance of power between the national government and the state or local level. Federalism was first seen in the Articles of Confederation, where the various colonies focused on limiting the power in the Continental Congress. The Framers of the Constitution carried the idea of federalism into the Supreme Law of the Land for the new United States of America.
From the beginning, the Framers did not intend for all the power to reside in the federal government. They never intended for all the decisions affecting citizens lives to be governed from a central point. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was written in such a way as to control the federal government. It outlines the powers of the federal government, and the Tenth Amendment makes clear that any power not given directly to the federal government was to remain with the states or the people themselves.
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.” However, the federal government continues to grow bigger and usurp authority from the states. Edwin J. Feulner, the founder and former president of The Heritage Foundation, wrote the following in August 2010:
Growth of the Federal Government. The relative size of the various levels of government has changed dramatically since 1900. Then, almost 60% of government spending took place at the state and local levels. Today, the federal government spends more than twice as much as all other levels of government combined.
Centralization of Administration. Over the course of the 20th century, the administration of government has been increasingly centralized under the federal government, gathering particular momentum with the expansion of the regulatory state in the 1960s. The Federal Register, which contains the text of new federal regulations, notices, and decisions, ran to 22,877 pages in 1960; it was 68,598 pages in 2009.
Subsuming of States Under National Programs. Today, states increasingly administer policies and programs emanating from Washington, making them for the most part agents of a national administrative government that, in theory if not in fact, is unlimited and all-encompassing. As a result, states often act like supplicants seeking relief from the federal government.
A Renewed Threat. The policies of the current Administration and Congress – from massive spending to the takeover of whole industries to new regulatory initiatives and the resulting explosion of debt – have been especially threatening to and destructive of the idea and structural integrity of federalism.
Former President Donald J. Trump recognized the federal regulations were stifling the economy, so he cut more than twice as many regulations as he signed. Once the federal government lost some or all the control of the economy, it began to soar – until COVID-19 came from China to shut down the nation. Meanwhile, States began clawing back authority. One example is the revolution that has taken place over the past 35 years.
Don Surber recently wrote about the gun revolution – a revolution won by Americans “state by state” and “Without firing a shot (except at the firing range).” He wrote, “Texas is the latest to join the freedom coalition” after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927 into law. This bill “eliminates the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns if they’re not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun.” This is “a big victory in Texas” for conservative activists who have long sought for such a law. It is also “another notch on the gun handle nationally.”
Surber continued, “35 years ago, it was illegal in 16 states (including Texas) for a civilian to carry a concealed weapon. Only Vermont did not require a pistol permit.” The revolution took place by “Working through the slow process of going state to state to change the law.” Surber includes charts to show how “Texas and many other states went from red (a ban on concealed carry) to yellow (may issue) to blue (shall issue) to green (no permission necessary).”
It is the Vermontization of America. The Green Mountain Boys always put the right to firearms off limits to regulation. Interesting state. For 14 years, it was a republic – longer than Texas and other states that were republics for a time.
The battle for the Second Amendment continues. From Massachusetts to Hawaii, there are clusters of holdouts who allow sheriffs to decide who shall have the right to defend himself.
But this gives Americans hope that they can regain their rights, state by state. The battle for the right to life for children continues, with states interceding on behalf of babies with deadlines for making the decision on abortion….
The success in the gun revolution should encourage those in the babies revolution.
Thomas Lifson reviewed the material from Surber and then connected the gun revolution to states asserting their constitutional role in elections. He quoted Article I, Section 4, Clause 1: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislatures thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.”
When the Attorney General Merrick B. Garland threatened to take over the Arizona Senate audit for 2020 election results, the Arizona State Attorney Mark Brnovich reminded him that the legislatures of the states have authority over how elections are held in their state.
Arizona is close to finishing its forensic audit, and Georgia starting one. Lifson said that “the Founders’ wisdom is on display” because “Pennsylvania is poised to join” the other two states. “The federal government may well be corrupted,” but “the states created the federal government.”
Lifson counseled conservatives to not despair because liberals control “the White House, Congress, the media, academia, nonprofits.” He reminded his readers that “the Founders knew that state governments would always be closer to the people than the distant federal government. That’s why the Tenth Amendment … is so important.
With signs that the Supreme Court may be reacting against threats to pack it by issuing more 9-to-0 decisions, there is even the possibility that it will finally start enforcing the Tenth Amendment. That would be revolutionary, but well within the intent of the Founders.