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29 Nov 2009
by State Rep. Matthew Shea (WA-4th)
This summer, legislators from several states met to discuss the steps needed to
restore our Constitutional Republic. The federal government has ignored the many
state sovereignty resolutions from 2009 notifying it to cease and desist its
current and continued overreach. The group decided it was time to actively
counter the tyranny emanating from Washington D.C.
From those discussions it became clear three things needed to happen.
1. State Legislatures need to pass 10 key pieces of legislation “with teeth” to
put the federal government back in its place.
2. The people must pass the legislation through the Initiative process if any
piece of the legislative agenda fails.
3. County Sheriffs must reaffirm and uphold their oaths to protect and defend
the Constitution of the United States.
With the advent of the Tea Party Movement, many people have been asking how
exactly we can make the above reality. What follows is Part I of the outline of
that plan regarding state legislation, the action steps any concerned citizen
can take to see this legislation to fruition, and the brief history and
justifications behind each.
Step 1: Reclaim State Sovereignty through Key Nullification Legislation
Our Constitutional Republic is founded on a system of checks and balances known
as the “separation of powers.” Rarely, however, are the states considered part
of this essential principle.
Enter the “doctrine of nullification.”
Nullification is based on the simple principle that the federal government
cannot be the final arbiter of the extent and boundaries of its own power. This
includes all branches of the federal government. In the law this is known as a
“conflict of interest.”
Additionally, since the states created the federal government the federal
government was an agent of the states; not the other way around. Thus, Thomas
Jefferson believed that, by extension, the states had a natural right to nullify
(render as of no effect) any laws they believed were unconstitutional.
In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 he wrote,
“co-States, recurring to their natural right…will concur in declaring these acts
void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that
neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and
intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shalt be exercised within their
Alexander Hamilton echoed this sentiment in Federalist #85 “We may safely rely
on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the
encroachments of the national authority.” 2
It is clear then that State Legislatures can stop the unconstitutional overreach
of the Obama administration through nullification. Here is a list of proposed
nullification legislation to introduce in all 50 States.
1. Nullification of Socialized Health Care [current efforts] [example legislation]
2. Nullification of National Cap and Trade [example legislation]
3. Federal Enumerated Powers Requirement (Blanket Nullification) [details]
4. Establishment of a Federal Tax Escrow Account [example legislation]
If imposed, socialized health care and cap and trade will crush our economy.
These programs are both unconstitutional, creating government powers beyond
those enumerated by the Constitution. If those programs are nullified, it will
give the individual states a fighting chance to detach from a federal budget in
freefall and save the economies of the individual states.
Next, blanket nullification.
The Federal Government, particularly the House of Representatives, needs to
abide by its own rules. In particular, House Rule XIII 3(d) specifically states
“Each report of a committee on a public bill or public joint resolution shall
contain the following: (1) A statement citing the specific powers granted to
Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or resolution.” 3
Needless to say, this rule is generally ignored. The idea behind blanket
nullification is that if the Congress does not specify the enumerated power it
is using according to its own rules, or the power specified is not one of the
enumerated powers granted to Congress in the United States Constitution, then
the “law” is automatically null and void.
Lastly, the federal government cannot survive without money. I know that seems
obvious but many states are missing the opportunity to use money as an incentive
for the federal government to return to its proper role. Most visibly, states
help collect the federal portion of the gasoline tax. That money should be put
into an escrow account at the state level and held there. The Escrow Account
legislation includes a provision that all consumer, excise, and income taxes
payable to the federal government would go through this account first. This
would do two things. First, it would give states the ability to collect interest
on that money to help offset revenue shortfalls. Second, it would allow states
to hold that money as long as needed as an incentive for the federal government
to return within the enumerated boundaries of its power.
Step 2: Erect an impenetrable wall around the County Sheriff and the 2nd
As recently stated in the famous Heller opinion by the United States Supreme
Court, the right to bear arms “is an individual right protecting against both
public and private violence” and “when the able-bodied men of a nation are
trained in arms and organized they are better able to resist tyranny.” 4
Thus, it is clear that the 2nd Amendment not only protects the right to
self-defense but that right extends to defending oneself against tyranny. As
with any historical attempt to establish a dictatorship weapons must be seized
or severely regulated. 5
Here is a list of legislation to prevent this from happening, some of which has
already been introduced in states around the country:
• Sheriff First [model legislation]
• Extension of the Castle Doctrine (right to protection) [sample legislation]
• Prohibition of Gun and Ammunition Tracking [see above]
• Firearms Freedom Act [current efforts] [model legislation]
The county Sheriff is the senior law enforcement officer both in terms of rank
and legal authority in a county. This comes from a tradition of over 1000 years
of Anglo-Saxon common law. Anglo-Saxon communities were typically organized into
“shires” consisting of approximately 1000 people. 6
The chief law enforcement officer of the shire was the “reeve” or “reef.” Hence,
the modern combination of the two words, as we know them today, “shire reef” or
Consequently, the Sheriff’s pre-eminent legal authority is well established.
This was confirmed in Printz v. United States. 7 Justice Scalia quotes James
Madison who wrote in Federalist 39:
“In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent
portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to
the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its
Sheriff 1st legislation would formally declare that all federal agents and
officers must give notice of, and seek permission before, any arrest, search, or
seizure occurs. Thus, federal agents and officers seeking to enforce
unconstitutional laws must go through the county Sheriff first.
Extending the castle doctrine to one’s person would go a long way toward
eliminating the arbitrary “no carry” areas. Like Virginia Tech, it is these
areas where guns for self-defense are most needed.
Many gun and ammunition tracking schemes have been, and are still being,
attempted. The intended purpose of “reducing gun related” crime is never
realized. Instead, law-abiding citizens are punished with regulatory burdens and
fees. Quite simply we need transparency in government not in the people.
Montana started the firearms freedom act to rein in the federal government’s use
of the Commerce Clause to regulate everything within the stream of commerce. The
original intent of the Commerce Clause was to regulate commerce between states
not within states as Professor Rob Natelson points out in his 2007 Montana Law
The Montana FFA simply returns to that original understanding regarding firearms
made, sold, and kept within a state’s borders.
This list is by no means exhaustive. However, it does contain some immediate
steps that can be taken toward freedom and restoring our God honoring
Constitutional Republic. Hitler’s laws of January 30 and February 14, 1934,
should serve as a stark reminder of what happens when state sovereignty is
In the coming few weeks I will publish the next part of the plan.
Matthew Shea [send him email] is a State Representative in Washington’s 4th
District. He’s the author of HJM4009 for State Sovereignty. Visit his website.
Copyright © 2009 by TenthAmendmentCenter.com. Permission to reprint in whole or
in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
• 1. Kentucky Resolution of 1798, Thomas Jefferson, Adopted by Kentucky
Legislature on November 10, 1798.
• 2. Federalist No. 85, Publius (Alexander Hamilton), August 13 and 16, 1788.
• 3. Rules of the House XIII 3(d), “Content of Reports,” Page 623, 110th Congress.
• 4. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___ (Actual Pages 11, 13) (2008)
• 5. Id at (Actual Page 11).
• 7. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=sheriff&searchmode=none
• 8. Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)
• 9. Federalist No. 39, Publius (James Madison), January 16, 1788
• 10. Tempering the Commerce Power, 68 Mont. L. Rev. 95 (2007).
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