From San Francisco to New York, if you’re paying attention these days, you’d almost think that local government officials across this great country of ours had been sent a copies of Tom Woods’ new book, or were devoting some of their spare time to a quick study of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798.
The Virginia Resolutions of 1798 were written, of course, by the man who is usually referred to as the “Father of our Constitution”. These resolutions assert:
“..that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact [the US Constitution], the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil…”
Meanwhile in California, current chief deputy DA and incoming DA of San Mateo County, Steve Wagstaffe, has stated that he will prosecute TSA employees if it can be proven that it they are involved in inappropriate touching with a lewd or sexual intent when they frisk passengers who opt-out of the X-rated … um, I mean the X-ray scans. We’re told that sheriff’s deputies will be sent into airports to keep an eye on TSA employees.
Given the fact that the Constitution, including the Fourth Amendment, rather than federal statutes and regulations, is the supreme law of the land, every single state and local official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States would seem to have a duty to interpose on behalf of the People, whenever it comes to their attention that the individuals who are pleased to call themselves our federal government, either ignore or trample on the Bill of Rights.
On this important issue, it seems that local government officials are surging ahead of their state counterparts. However, it should always be remembered that it is within the power of the governors of the several states to convene their separate legislatures in order to devise constitutional measures that could obstruct, if not immediately halt unreasonable searches mandated by the TSA in each of their states.
In 1809, Connecticut Governor Johnathan Trumbull convened such a special session, partially in response to unreasonable searches and seizures that were part of the embargo enacted by President Jefferson at that time. In his opening address at that state’s special legislative session he said:
“Despairing of substantial relief from any other quarter, the people are now looking with anxious solicitude and hope, to the wisdom and direction of the Legislature of their own choice [their state legislature] ; and seem confident that some mode may be devised to remove the pressure under which they are at present suffering. To your collected wisdom and prudence they submit the task. And may it not be hoped, that, with our united efforts under a temperate, discreet and firm consideration of our situation and circumstances, we may be able by the influence of divine aid, to fulfil the just and reasonable expectations of our fellow citizens? Whenever our national legislature is led to overleap the prescribed bounds of their constitutional powers, on the State Legislatures, in great emergencies, devolves the arduous task—it is their right—it becomes their duty, to interpose their protecting shield between the right and liberty of the people, and the assumed power of the General Government.”
That same day, the Connecticut State Legislature adopted resolutions concerning the embargo act which restrained persons holding executive offices in that state, “..from affording any official aid or co-operation in the execution of the act aforesaid;..And that the secretary of this State be and he is hereby directed to transmit copies of the same to the several sheriffs and town clerks.”
THE SPIRIT OF 2010?
Whether the battle against unreasonable airport searches, which began this year, will end up being as effective as Connecticut’s resistance to unreasonable searches during the embargo of 1809, or whether it will be as successful as current state efforts which nullify federal Real ID mandates, the federal prohibition of medical marijuana and other acts of federal usurpation, remains to be seen.
It will all depend on the people of the several states and whether their representatives in local government show that they have spines like David Greenfield and Steve Wagstaffe in California and New York. It will also depend of whether they have governors and state legislators who are willing to be as courageous as Governor Johnathan Trumbull and the legislature of Connecticut were in 1809.
Derek Sheriff [send him email] is a research analyst for the Tenth Amendment Center. His articles have appeared in various publications, and he writes regularly for the Center on issues related to state sovereignty and nullification. His blog and podcast “Principles of ‘98″ can be found at www.PrinciplesOfNinetyEight.Com. View his Tenth Amendment Center blog archives here, and his article archives here.