Thursday, January 26, 2012

States Rights, The U.S. Constitution & The 2012 Presidential Election

 "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." 
The 10th Amendment Of The United States Constitution 
ratified 12/15/1791 In Virginia
I find it interesting how various individuals interpret the United States Constitution. For some, with certain experiences, the interpretation of the document falls along a certain line of reasoning. For others with other experiences, the interpretation falls along another line of reasoning. This difference is never marked more so than when it comes to the the rights of the States vs the rights of the Federal Government. 

As some reason, the States are always under the control of the Federal Government. Others affirm that the States are free to implement laws independent of the Federal Government and in some cases even in violation of Federal mandates. Two such arguments that have reared their head and will have serious implications toward the 2012 Presidential election are the cases of health care and immigration. 

The United States Supreme Court has undertaken both issues. The "individual mandate provision" of health care reform will either cause the legislation to sink or swim, or possibly open the door for states to administer their own brand of health care reform. What is at steak here is the apparent requirement of all citizens of the United States to be required to have health insurance. This could violate the Constitutional rights of everyone making health insurance a requirements for citizenship. 

Ariz. Governor Jan Brewer scolding President Barack Obama 1/25/2012
Then on to immigration. The government recently sued Arizona claiming that portions of it's state approved immigration law was in violation of federal law and ultimately unconstitutional. This sparked outrage from Arizona's Republican Governor, Jan Brewer, causing her to state the following:
“I was stunned at the audacity of the Obama administration to file suit against an individual state seeking to safeguard its people,”...“That shock turned to outrage as the federal government proceeded to file suit against three more states — South Carolina, Alabama and now Utah — that followed Arizona’s lead.”
~ Before I go further, I'm STUNNED that a Governor would have the AUDACITY to front a sitting President in front of a nation and look as STUPID and RIDICULOUS as she did. I am APPALLED at Jan Brewer's disregard for the office of the President of The United States regardless of what she claims to the contrary. I am certain that never in a million years would she have acted in such an unstatesman like manner toward a white President. This is UTTERLY RIDICULOUS and she should be ashamed and her actions decried by ALL leading political officials including Senator John McCain who should take the lead.~ 


Federal judges have now struck down portions of state immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Utah and South Carolina. But not all rulings have favored immigrants’ rights groups. In Alabama, a federal judge upheld the majority of the state law.

States that have implemented their own processes do so claiming state sovereignty and that sovereignty is usually rooted in the interpretation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The 10th Amendment is the last Amendment under the section of the Constitution known as The Bill Of Rights  

This understanding directly impacts issues regarding the implementation of Civil Rights and in many cases human rights.

The 2012 Election & Issues Of Race

Newt Gingrich
Needless to say that when Newt Gingrich shows up there will always be implications of race and racism. Why, because he is a republican vocal on issues of race from the south. Notions such as these are at an all time high because a black President is currently in office. The conservative "right" has defined the Obama Presidency as one of emergent socialism and one of big government. The liberal "left" has focused on "fairness" which was a word repeated in the recent Presidential State Of The Union, and a level playing field whereby the government is empowered to enact on the behalf of the people. 

In a recent article Rev. Jesse Jackson stated the following:
Rev. Jesse Jackson
"Gingrich endorsed Texas Gov. Perry's focus on the 10th Amendment, promising to return power to the states and local governments. States' rights is the doctrine of the Confederacy, of the Fort Sumter party, not the Boston Tea Party. This doctrine was invoked in defense of slavery, of secession and of segregation." ~ [The Huffington Post Black Voices, 'Gingrich Plays Old South Race Card of a Bygone Era' 1/24/2012]
The problem seems to be that even if the States believe that the 10th Amendment applies to them and that they can make certain laws, many civil rights advocates such as Jackson, believe that is trumped by the by the Supremacy Clause found in Article VI section 2 of the US Constitution. The Supremacy Clause is as follows:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."
Gov. George Wallace
Note that the Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers, as noted by the phrase "in pursuance thereof" So here is the problem in a nutshell...We have some who believe that the States should have the right to implement their own laws and that government should be silent on issues where states rights or involved. On the other hand, individuals believe that the federal government has been extended the authorization to implement certain laws and supports that supersede states rights. It would seem in public debate on the issues that those who are  looking for greater federal governmental regulation are demonized as socialists and quasi-communists, while those who are looking toward the expansion of States rights, desiring less federal governmental involvement are demonized as racist. We need not commemorate the name Governor George Wallace of Alabama who opposed desegregation saying  "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" then later, "States' rights now! States' rights tomorrow! States' rights forever!" Thus the term "states rights" became synonymous with individuals who affirm racism. Are these arguments true in either case currently or in this era? That much is arguable but we should be informed as to why the seeming "knee-jerk" reaction to certain words and statements from certain people and individuals.   

Was Dr. Jackson right about his assessment of the historical use of the 10th Amendment? 

President John F. Kennedy
Yes he was. He was correct that during the Jim Crow and Civil rights era in which States rights was used as a political issue to perpetuate segregation and support racism. States held, and continued to hold even against federal regulation, that segregation in education should remain law,claiming that the 10th Amendment combined with the 14th Amendment guaranteed that States rights superseded governmental regulations and controls. The 14th Amendment of The United States Constitution known as the "Equal Protection Clause" said the following:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."  ~14th Amendment Clause 1 ratified 7/9/1868
When Plessey v Ferguson of 1896 was overruled by Brown vs. The Board Of Education of 1954 it was determined that the doctrine of "separate" was unconstitutional and that the 14th Amendment had been violated by the prior ruling. It took the imposition of Federal regulations and law to override state opposition which up until that point had been rooted in states rights, bypassing provisions contained within both the 14th and 15th Amendments. This would lead to The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by the late President Lyndon B. Johnson, which was called for by the late President John F. Kennedy in his address to the nation June 11th 1963.This legislation and an overturn of states rights would cost President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and a host of other civil rights leaders their lives. 
President L. B. Johnson present with  Dr. ML King Jr.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964

It would seem that a Black President has presented many issues to Americans which were not previously issues. Yes he is liberal, but we have had liberal Presidents before. I wonder if any of these things would be issues if the nation's economic outlook was more favorable at this point? I wonder if the nation had not been involved in wars, which were inherited, or a financial depression, which was also inherited, would we be seeing a different response from those who are currently advocating States rights?

I certainly believe in a smaller government, but not at the expense of the people. Unfortunately, history tells us what a state will do to it's people without being checked by the federal government. That's just a reality supported by historical facts and I don't see any reason to believe that if left unchecked, they will do any better now.

Does that make me a socialist or a communist...BY NO MEANS NO!!! I am the best distributor of any my earnings and I don't want the government intruding into my affairs any more than they have to, but it seems that they have to far too often. I believe that Christ is the only answer and hope for this nation. We have crossed some bridges that we simply will not cross again. Maybe we should stop hoping for that trek backwards and make what we have to deal with right now, much better than it currently is.


Additional Sources:

The New York Times 12/12/2011: "Court To Weight Arizona On State Immigration"

The New York Times 1/19/2012: "Immigration and Emigration"


  1. I stated the following in my facebook forum:

    Now one thing I was interested to learn was that the phrase "states rights" was long used to infer opposition to segregation and equal rights. Most pundits such as Limbaugh, Hannity and others consistently invoke the doctrine of "states rights". I have never heard any of them reference what this phrase was meant to mean historically...the question is why? Are they fanning the flames of racism in the US knowing full well that what they are espousing have traditionally been racially charged sentiments?

  2. Supertindent,

    Nope, I think they are well aware that with the pervasive lack of knowledge of and indifference to the political history of this country, people are not even going to catch this charged language.

    I totally concur with you about the improprieties of the governor in confronting Barack Obama personally. When I saw the pictures yesterday on cnn, I cringed. I mean, although I'm not a fan of his policies, I still pray for him everyday and expect that most should show the title (for the all its associated burdens) some respect. I am a young person, and always believed our country overlooked race and disbelieved the warnings of my parents; but I tell you, since Obama's been in office, I have seen another side of the US.

    But at any rate, the formation of states who are the sole purveyors of the resources and decision-making of their people is inevitable.

    Ten years ago, several of my family members, who are missionaries, had dreams about there being a time in which none of the national programs such as FEMA, WIC, SSI and etc. didn't exist. My aunt said she asked people in the dream and people had mentioned, "We don't have that no more." Further, she saw the gay issue dividing states like it was God's fingers moving through the map of the United States, making them push for sovereignty. And you had to have a passport to just go from state to state--she said she saw.

    She also mentioned seeing a race war--she said, Blacks were so bold, they were willing to die--they were not afraid

    With many of the ridiculous state deficits that are popping all over the country, divided opinions over issues such as gay rights and immigration, it is likely.

    These are all, as we know, signs of the times.

  3. Unknown,

    Thanks for commenting.

    You said:Nope, I think they are well aware that with the pervasive lack of knowledge of and indifference to the political history of this country, people are not even going to catch this charged language.

    I agree. The sad thing is that I haven;t heard and of the black "leaders" speak on it either. I've just seen their actions and heard their statements claiming racism.

    There is another word that I recently found out that was a racist term back in the day:


    I guess that was a racial slur as well in may places. I've seen some folk get mad when they were called that by persons seemingly meaning well.

    Like you, I disagree with many of President Obama's actions and endorsements, but to "respect the office" is to NOT do what she did.

    What she is saying is that she has no respect for him at all. Not his policies...she made it clear in her arrogant old dried up way. She's a real trip and I wouldn't cast a vote in her favor in a million years.

    Folk in AZ are always behind the curb when it comes to issues concerning black folk as well. They were the only state that refused MLK Jr. Holiday as well weren't they?

    Then sad looser, and supposed AZ Senator, John Mccain, sits there like a bump on a log giving an excuse as to why he wouldn't clap for any of the President's ideas at all. He certainly stood up to go on FOX and denounce his speech.

    Like I said, I don't like many of the policies or moves, but RESPECT the man and truly respect the office. I wouldn't invite him to my event (as if he would care-LOL) but if I am at an event that he is in attendance, he has 100% of my respect.

    That dream/vision is something else. Very interesting and pertinent. In fact I think some time ago, a Russian political pundit predicted that the United States would be split because of inner tensions. Some states have already talked about what it would take to seceed from the Union.

    The President said that the Union is getting stronger at the end of his speech. That was a danger sign to me. Usually in the State Of The Union addresses, the President begins with the statement that the "Union IS Strong!"

    When the President said "our union is getting stronger", I said, we're in trouble!

    God's gonna get his glory for real!

  4. Amen, yes God will get His glory - no matter what. And regarding the Governor's finger pointing breakdown; if you don't respect the man - RESPECT THE OFFICE!!! No matter what anyone thinks of President Obama, he is still the President of the United States!

  5. Lady D,

    That's what I believe as well...Then she gets on TV with her crusty self and says, "I respect the office of the President"...Look I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but please...don't insult my intelligence like that...she has absolutely no respect for him period, President or not.

    What does she think she is? The Presidential Nanny? Just totally out of order and down right disrespectful that the leader of the free world would be greeted in such manner...look argue and debate and place your opinion on the table, but to do what she did only displays hatred and that's where I get off the boat.

    I have opinions of the Presidential actions that I do not agree with at all. But hatred is another thing. That is unworthy of civility in any context.


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