May 08, 2009
Battle in the States: Freedom vs. Protection
The Battle in the States: Freedom Versus Protection
By Tom DeWeese and Mark Lerner
Across the nation, state legislatures are struggling to take back their Constitutional rights as they also seek ways to protect us from outside threats. This has led to some near schizophrenic legislative sessions with laws swinging widely from left to right.
Making it more difficult to get a handle on the situation is the fact that there has been an outgrowth of near “rabid” anti-immigration groups that have sprung up demanding near-Hitler-style tactics to “fix” the problem. While the situation is certainly serious and demands action, these groups openly admit that they are willing to surrender their liberties if that is what it takes to end illegal immigration. They may deeply regret that cavalier dismissal of liberty. Once lost, it is rarely regained.
To address these issues, three very distinct, but widely variant legislative actions have appeared in the states.
First, legislation dealing with protecting the integrity of the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty has been introduced across the nation, passing in at least 21 states. The states are reacting to the frightening growth of the federal government through anti-terrorist legislation such as the Patriot Act and Real ID, as well as the outrageous spending included in the bailout and stimulus bills.
Second, to address the illegal immigration issue, legislation in many states would provide state law enforcement with the ability to share information through direct electronic access. Many law-enforcement agencies are eagerly supporting such legislation. Yet, this type of legislation clearly contradicts the intent of the states sovereignty effort.
Third, again racing back to the other side to protect personal privacy from federal surveillance, there is legislation introduced to prohibit the collection of biometric samples/data, social security numbers and the use of RFID chips in state driver’s licenses.
One might ask, what do these pieces of legislation have to do with one another? They each go to the heart of a battle being waged across our country to decide how much Constitutional power the federal government has to collect, retain and share the personal information of each citizen, and how much power it has to force states to provide it?
Tenth Amendment legislation is exactly what the name implies – that states have Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and powers. It puts the federal government on notice that states will not act as its surrogates. The legislation unequivocally tells the federal government that its power comes from the citizens and the states and that federal powers are limited and defined rather than unlimited and arbitrary.
Click on title of post for more of this story written by Tom DeWeese and Mark Lerner.