Friday, June 25, 2010

Limited Government - Unlimited Rights by RoseAnn Salanitri

The Tea Party movement in the United States is raising awareness and inspiring conversations regarding that very extraordinary document we call our Constitution. The Committee to Recall Senator Robert Menendez (the Committee) has been the catalyst for many of these conversations as arguments both for and against recall can be read all over the internet and in many media venues across the nation.

The Committee’s explanation that they have elected to initiate the recall against Senator Menendez due to his unconstitutional votes on healthcare and illegal immigration is often met with confusion. Additionally, many also believe that the recall itself is unconstitutional. Therefore, it has become apparent that a more detailed explanation is in order.

Our Founding Fathers wrote two extraordinary documents which serve as the basis of our system of government. The first was our Declaration of Independence, which acts as our mission statement and the second is our Constitution, which acts as our by-laws. Our mission statement describes our heart and what makes us unique, while our by-laws describe the do’s and don’ts of how our federal government operates.

The Declaration of Independence clearly asserts that our rights come from God and not government. It states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It goes on to say that the purpose of government is secure our God-given rights:

“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among them…”

And that government receives its rights from the consent of the governed:

“… deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

This unique perspective established the basis of designing a system where the powers of government are limited and defined but the rights of citizens are unlimited and not necessarily defined. Therefore, it is important to realize that any argument from silence concerning the Constitution should support the rights of the citizens or the states and does not support undefined powers of the federal government. The only rights given to the federal government are defined and cannot exceed those written within the Constitution. These government powers are referred to as “enumerated (or specified) powers,” and apply only to the federal government. The states, however, are free to adopt laws and establish powers as they see fit. In other words, restrictions were put on the federal government.

Understanding these principles is paramount to understanding the constitutional argument of the Committee. If our rights come from God and our Constitution limits the powers of the government, then it is reasonable to argue that since the right to recall is not mentioned in the Constitution (one way or another), it’s absence should support the Committee’s right to recall. Again, recall is not mentioned in the Constitution, which only defines how the federal government functions and limits its power. In the State of New Jersey the citizens voted by 76.2% to amend their state constitution to include recall in 1993, after Governor Jim Florio angered the citizens of New Jersey by raising taxes, which he vowed not to do while campaigning. The citizens of New Jersey understood that elections gave them the right to choose their representatives but recalls gave them the tool to keep their representatives accountable. According to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution, the citizens of New Jersey were clearly exercising their constitutional right to state sovereignty.

When the Constitution was submitted for ratification in 1787, the states were fearful that certain rights were so important that they had to be specifically spelled out. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton thought it was unnecessary to spell these rights out because the federal government’s powers were limited. They further feared that if any rights were specified that it could be argued that those that were not specified were not protected. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments were suggested as the solution to the problem.

The Ninth Amendment states:

“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

In other words, this Amendment clearly states that just because certain rights are not specifically defined in the Constitution, does not mean that they don’t exist.

The Tenth Amendment reads:

“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.”

Once again, our founders went through great pains to be sure it was understood that the people of this country and their respective states retained all sovereignty in matters not specifically belonging to the federal government and defined within the Constitution. All restrictions were placed on the federal government and not the states. The citizens and the states retained all other rights. This is a foundational principle of our Constitutional Republic.

While it was exceedingly important to our founders to limit the federal government, they also understood that in order to operate effectively, the federal government had to possess certain rights in order to carry out functions of a national nature. Article One, Section Eight lists these powers. They are to be uniform throughout the United States and are for the purposes of providing for the “general welfare” and “common defense.” They are as follows:

1. To regulate interstate and international commerce;
2. To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization;
3. To establish uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcies;
4. To coin money and establish its value;
5. To fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting
7. To establish post offices and post roads;
8. To promote the progress of science & useful arts by supplying copyrights & patents;
9. To establish Federal Courts;
10. To govern the District of Columbia;
11. To purchase real estate for needful buildings;
12. To make laws necessary to carry out the execution of the defined powers;
13. To define and punish Maritime and international crimes;
14. To declare war;
15. To make rules for and to fund the Military Services.

When the Committee refers to Senator Menendez’s votes for things like healthcare being “unconstitutional”, they are referring to the enumerated powers listed above and claim that these powers do not provide for government-run healthcare or a host of other usurpations that have developed over the past several years.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” The Committee believes that the out-of-control government we are now experiencing has assumed undelegated powers, and is therefore unauthoritative and should be void and of no force. It is the underlying principle behind the recall movement and the Committee’s desire to restore government limits and state sovereignty.

To further make the point, below are listed just a few of Senator Menendez’s votes that the Committee doesn’t believe are authorized under the Constitution:

• Voted not to notify parents of minors who get out of state abortions
• Voted for partial birth abortion
• Voted for human cloning
• Voted that tax money should pay for contraception
• Voted for healthcare to pay for abortions
• Voted to send federal funds to “sanctuary cities”
• Voted not to declare English as the official US language
• Voted not to build the fence along the Mexican border
• Voted not to send the National Guard to protect our southern border
• Voted to give illegal aliens social security
• Voted to give permanent residence to “undocumented workers”
• Voted not to enforce immigration laws
• Voted to confiscate firearms
• Voted to give the children of illegal aliens college tuition money
• Voted to keep the marriage penalty tax
• Voted to continue TARP funds
• Voted to increase national public debt
• Voted to develop a “global” strategy to eliminate poverty
• Voted to protect the rights of terrorists
• Voted to apply the Geneva Convention to terrorists
• Voted for government-run healthcare

It is a bit ironic that Senator Menendez would try to protect his career by hiding behind the Constitution when it is apparent from his voting record that the Constitution is of little value to him. Make no mistake about it, we are in a battle whose outcome will determine whether or not a nation of the people, by the people and for the people can survive upon this earth. It is our hope that this article has answered some of your questions and that you will join us in this historic battle to preserve our liberties and freedoms for ourselves and for generations to come.