The Ohio Senate State and Local Government and Veterans’ Affairs Committee met today to hear testimony from one of its members, Sen. Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland) in support of SCR 13.
Sen. Grendell began by noting the importance of the U.S. Constitution as the legal foundation of the republic: “Our Constitution has served us well for over two hundred and twenty years, in part, because of the great respect and adherence to it by both the federal government and the respective states.” [Emphasis in the original].
He then reviewed the history of State-Federal relations, from American resistance to unfair policies and taxation established by the British Crown, to the beliefs of some of the founding fathers that the Federal Government would not become too powerful because the people, with this experience vivid in their minds would not allow it (Federalist #39). However, the Bill of Rights was soon added to ensure the security and guarantee of our most precious freedoms. “I firmly believe the Constitution sought to ensure that all levels of government in our republic derive [their] power from the people, and the Tenth Amendment preserves this local control even in the face of the federal government.”
Sen. Grendell then noted that the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed State sovereignty and States’ rights in Printz v. United States/Mack v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997). Quoting James Madison: “Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front…”
Sen. Grendell asserted that the representatives of the people of Ohio have not only the right, but the responsibility, to question the Federal Government when it exceeds its Constitutional authority. “We [the General Assembly] are the ones that must act to preserve the delicate balance between federal and state jurisdictions laid forth in our Constitution. While there are many powers and responsibilities granted to the federal government from which the states are prohibited, all others are retained by the states or to the people, according to our Bill of Rights.” [Emphasis Sen. Grendell’s]
He cited the Real ID Act of 2005, requiring certain minimum information to appear on State driver’s licenses as one example of the Federal Government overstepping its rightful power.
He assured his fellow Senators that Ohio is, and will continue to be, a proud member of the United States of America; that the resolution contains no secessionist language, but seeks solely to have the Federal Government live within its Constitutional authority.
The floor was then opened to questions. Sen. Ray Miller (D-Columbus) asked for a definition of what powers were not granted to the Federal Government. Sen. Grendell answered that the Federal Government was basically limited by the Constitution to protecting the country, trade, and regulating commerce. He specifically noted that the Federal Government had no authority over education, and that Federal courts have abused the Constitution by continuing to expand the commerce power.
Sen. Miller then expressed his concern that the resolution fails to take into account the history of States’ Rights as it applied to the treatment of African-Americans, observing that State’s Rights were invoked to deny African-Americans the vote, an equal public education, and their safety. Even today, he added, a number of States attempt to keep African-Americans subservient. The Federal Government is necessary to come in to ensure the safety of African-Americans, even today.
Sen. Grendell responded by stating that he was making no attempt to reflect a discriminatory view; agreeing that the Tenth Amendment had been abused by the South after the War Between the States, making the Fourteenth Amendment necessary. However, that was not a reason to abrogate the Tenth Amendment, but to strike a balance between the Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments in the Constitution.
Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), noting the problems Ohio had in the 2004 election, wanted to know why Sen. Grendell was concerned about the Help America Vote Act. Sen. Grendell responded that Federal court decisions had invalidated the provision setting certain conditions for the election of Federal officials. If Ohio has no right to dictate how Federal officials in Ohio are elected, then the Federal Government has no right to dictate how elections are run for State and local offices.
Sen. Grendell added that having fifty sovereign States actually protects against widespread discrimination by preserving the regional and cultural diversity of the nation. The Tenth Amendment alllows Ohio’s officials to do their job; and by asserting our State’s sovereignty, we can help protect our grandchildren from the effects of the Federal Government’s bankruptcy. We need to draw a line the Federal Government cannot cross to prevent American from finding their country with just one “Federal” [by which Sen. Grendell means national or consolidated] government.