The Ohio Senate State & Local Government and Veterans’ Affairs Committee held its second hearing this morning on Ohio’s state sovereignty resolution SCR13. The committee accepted testimony from ten proponents of the resolution. Opponents will be given the opportunity to speak at a third hearing, possibly as soon as next week. The testimony lasted nearly 1½ hours, and is too voluminous to describe in detail here, so I shall concentrate on general themes.
Concern for the economy. “The Federal Government is literally sucking up the vast majority of the Ohioan’s tax dollar, and returning a fraction back with strings attached to massive financial anchors that threaten to sink Ohio,” said Brian Miller, from Stow. “Adding insult to injury, we as Ohioans watch in horror, while our hard earned tax dollars are instead passed on to states like California and New York – states with far less responsible governments, who have squandered more money than they even plan to take on everything from harboring and lavishly providing for illegal aliens to saving some inane smelt fish.”
Restoring the rights of the states under the Tenth Amendment. Several speakers mentioned the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification of the United States Constitution until a specific Bill of Rights was passed.
Federal encroachment on the rights of the states and the people. Brian Vandersall, from Akron, prepared an impressive list of violations of Constitutional guarantees by the federal government, including:
. Article I, Section 8 ban on ex post facto laws: The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban (1996) contained a retroactive provision that enabled Federal prosecutors to try domestic violence offenders after they had served their sentence for possession of guns owned before the act was passed.
· Fourth Amendment: USA Patriot Act 2001
· Writ of habeas corpus (Article I, Section 9): Military Commissions Act of 2006.
· Blatant failure of Congressmen to read their own legislation: In the film Fahrenheit 9/11, Congressman Conyers was recorded as saying, “We don’t really read most of the bills. Do you know what that would entail if we read every bill we passed? [It would] slow down the legislative process.”
· Using taxes and credit to bail out bankrupt corporations: General Motors and Chrysler 2009; AIG and Citigroup, 2008; Franklin National Bank, 1974; Penn Central Railroad, 1970.
Congressmen do not really represent the people. Allen J. Baxter, of West Chester, has lived in his Congressional district for twelve years. He can talk to his state senator, and has his state representative’s cell phone number, but has yet to find his congressman able to take time from being “too busy” to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
The principal issue is nothing less than preserving the rule of law, said Charles Voigt, Jr., from the Columbus area. He points out that our Constitutions are the law. There are no pros or cons about that. “Unfortunately today,” Mr. Voigt adds, “it has become overwhelmingly evident … that our elected officials disregard their oaths and wantonly pass laws and usurp authority in violation of the covenant by which we, the people, agree to be governed. They do this for their own self interests of getting re-elected and, as it has become clear, in an attempt to grab power and exert their control over those who they would rule as subjects.”
Michael Alan Young, of Mount Vernon, gave lengthy testimony walking the Committee through the meaning of sovereignty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and numerous court decisions. The rights of the people are inherent. The people consent to transfer some power to government. “Government cannot remove the sovereign power of the people, but the people can delegate to government certain powers … on their behalf.”
In America, that power was delegated to the states, which in turn delegated certain limited powers to the federal government. Mr. Young quoted James Madison in Federalist #45: “The powers of the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
In my testimony, I reviewed the history of state sovereignty resolutions, beginning with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1797, and giving special attention to a resolution passed in 1821 by the Ohio General Assembly asserting the right to tax the Bank of the United States, a privately-owned corporation that was under a federal charter to be the depository for the federal government.
I then reviewed the recent history of the resolutions, noting that they enjoy bipartisan support; and having been introduced in 39 states, have been enacted by seven. “By adopting this resolution, our General Assembly, like its predecessor in 1821, will exercise its right to enforce the Constitution of the United States. By so doing, it will stand as a bulwark to protect the rights of our state government and the people against further federal encroachment.”
The testimony drew relatively few questions from the Senators. The ranking minority member, Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) sought opinions from some of the speakers (including myself) on the impact of state sovereignty on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the proposed North American Union. In my answer, I claimed no expertise on NAFTA, but was concerned that the North American Union would dilute our ability to act in our own interest.
Joe Bozzi presented Gabe McGranahan’s testimony in Mr. McGranahan’s absence due to car trouble. As part of that testimony, he presented the petitions of the Ohio Free State movement, which successfully met its goal of collecting 10,000 signatures in support of the Ohio state sovereignty resolutions.
The next step, as previously stated, is to hear any opposition testimony, probably next Tuesday. Supporters of the resolutions should now focus their efforts on e-mails, phone calls, and letters to persuade Ohio Senate President Bill Harris to move SCR13 onto the floor of the Senate.