In Honor of Constitution Day 2013

Constitution - Destroying the Constitution

by Diane Rufino, September 17, 2013

Today is Constitution Day. Please take the time to reflect upon the principles that inspired our independence from Great Britain, united independent sovereign states, and inspired generations of Americans to put themselves in harm’s way to promote the same to those who have been and continue to be oppressed all over the world.  The most important of these principles is the inherent freedom and sovereignty of the individual, which is the cornerstone of the document which lays out the moral and ideological framework on which our country established its independence and dedicated its existence, the Declaration of Independence.

Our founding documents fit together as follows:

(i) The Declaration of Independence – which proclaims our philosophy of sovereignty, rights, and government
(ii) The US Constitution – which designed a government (checked by the sovereign powers of the States and the People) to embrace the philosophy set forth in the Declaration
(iii) The Bill of Rights – to further limit the authority of the federal government (as the preamble to the Bill of Rights states: “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…..”)
(i) The Declaration of Independence – which proclaims our philosophy of sovereignty, rights, and government.
(ii) The US Constitution – which designed a government (checked by the sovereign powers of the States and the People) to embrace the philosophy set forth in the Declaratio.n
(iii) The Bill of Rights – to further limit the authority of the federal government (as the preamble to the Bill of Rights states: “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…..”)

We enjoy our God-given rights because our founding documents boldly assert that only We the People have the right to determine our government, since it is only by the voluntary and temporary delegation of our rights to government ourselves that government exists. We have the right to “alter or abolish” government when it becomes destructive of its ends (which is first and foremost to protect and preserve our rights to Life, Liberty, and Property and the right to defend those rights). Nowhere in any of our founding documents is government given a life of its own; it has no right or power to seek its own self-interests nor to preserve, insure, or protect its existence. Yet today, government’s interests are placed above those of the People. Government has made sure that it has the exclusive power to define its own powers.

I ask everyone to please take the time to read the Declaration and the Constitution and acquaint yourselves or re-acquaint yourselves with the principles that protect your liberties and define the government that our Founders created for us for that purpose. Share with family and friends. Reflect upon the quotes below and look at the QUESTIONS that I’ve listed which follow them and test your knowledge !!

“What is a Constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people and is the supreme law of the land…”   — Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance, 2 U.S. 304, 308 (1795)

“The Constitution of a State is stable and permanent, not to be worked upon by the temper of the times, nor to rise and fall with the tide of events; notwithstanding the competition of opposing interests, and the violence of contending parties, it remains firm and immovable, as a mountain amidst the raging of the waves.”    — Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance, 2 U.S. 304, 308 (1795)

“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”   — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791-1792)

“The purpose of a written constitution is to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.”    — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”    — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to W. Nicholas (1803)


1. What is the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

2. What is the purpose of the Declaration of Independence?

3. The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence explains the foundation of Individual Liberty. What is that foundation (2 laws)?

4. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence explains the relationship between We the People and government in the United States.  What is that relationship?

5. What are the first 10 amendments called?  Why were they added?

6. Where in the Constitution is the “Wall of Separation” mentioned?

7. Where in the Constitution does it require criminals be read the “Miranda” warning?

8. Where in the Constitution do we find that the Supreme Court has the power to issue binding decisions?

9. Where in the Constitution do we find the president having the power to send US troops to engage in acts of war without an official declaration of war?

10. Where in the Constitution do we find the legislative or executive branches having the power to limit or define the rights listed in the Bill of Rights?  (The preamble of the Bill of Rights is clear on this)

11. Where in the Constitution is the federal government granted the power to mandate healthcare or control education?

12. Where in the Constitution is Congress granted the power to spend taxpayer money to bailout selected businesses?

13. Where in the Constitution does it grant the Congress to tax and spend for any object other than those that are expressly listed in the Constitution?

14.What provision in the Constitution permits Congress to transfer its powers to legislate to unelected agencies?

15. Whose document is the Constitution?

16. Who does the Constitution protect?  And what does it protect from?

17. Does the government have any “rights” under the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution? Is there any provision that permits it to engage in action or policies to further its own interests and longevity?

18. The President believes he has the right to identify American citizens as “enemy combatants” (a term invented by the Supreme Court during the era of WWII) thereby detaining them indefinitely and denying them their constitutional rights. An “enemy combatant” is a person who engages in belligerent acts (war) against the US.  Isn’t this type of person already identified in Article III, Section 3?

19. Can a treaty over-ride any provision of the US Constitution?  Can it limit any of the Bill of Rights?

20. Which provision in the Constitution is the state equivalent of the Supremacy Clause?

21. Which Article establishes the automatic nullification of unconstitutional laws?

22. What Article requires that all government officers, both state and federal, must have a working knowledge of the Constitution?

23. At whose level of understanding was the Constitution drafted?

24. Who or what does government serve?

25. When elected representatives and government officials (both federal and state) take their oath of office, what do they pledge their allegiance to??   The United States or the US Constitution?

26. In Article V, Section 2 (Supremacy Clause), it reads: “in pursuance thereof.”  What does that mean?

27. What are the citizenship requirements for a candidate seeking to be President of the United States?


1.  The Declaration is our moral compass. It establishes the relationship between the Individual and government.

2.  The Declaration of Independence had 2 purposes. First, it declared that the American states were dissolving the political bonds that connected them to Great Britain. In other words, the Declaration was a secessionist document.  Second, in explaining the reasons for their dissolution, the states proclaimed “to a candid world” the fundamental principles upon which they would declare their independence as free and sovereign states. The Declaration articulated the foundation of their societies and their government. It articulated the American blueprint for ordered liberty. The American system would be founded on the supreme sovereignty of the Individual (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”).  In announced that there would be no divine right of Kings or any premise that rights come from government. In fact, it would be the other way around. Government would only have those powers that the people voluntarily transfer or delegate to it to make laws for and protect them. That’s why all 13 states at the time agreed to the provision that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (to protect and secure the rights of the People), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”).

3.  Nature’s Law and God’s Law

4.  Sovereign power resides in the Individual. That is, he has the rights associated with being a free person – Life, Liberty, and Property, as well as all rights associated with them – PLUS he has the right to defend them – ie, the rights of self-defense, self-determination, and self-preservation. In order to form into communities and protect those rights, governments are instituted to provide those protections en masse. Government, that is, is instituted to serve the People and has as its primary purpose, the obligation to protect the rights of the Individual.  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..”

5.  The Bill of Rights.  The first 10 amendments grant NO rights.  They acknowledge certain rights that are so fundamental, so essential, and so integral to the notions of liberty that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is absolutely prohibited from violating them.

6.  This is a legal fiction – devised by a progressive Supreme Court designed to centralize power in the federal government. The Justice who gave us the “Wall of Separation” was Hugo Black, in the 1947 case Everson v. Board of Education.  Hugo Black was a leader with the KKK, tasked with administering the Klan oath (one provision being that there is a “Wall of Separation” to prevent Catholics, one of their target groups, from gaining any political power). In the decision, Black wrote:  “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” Our Founders understood that the key to effective, responsible government is having a citizenry that is capable of governing themselves and conducting themselves according to certain productive guidelines. Those guidelines come from morality and religion (which are intertwined). Only a moral and religious people are capable of ensuring that government remains limited and therefore capable of preserving liberty for future generations.

7.  Another legal fiction – again devised by a progressive Supreme Court (the Earl Warren Court in 1966, in the case Miranda v. Arizona). The Warren Court was characterized as promoting the rights of criminals over victims and the ability of police (and the criminal justice system, in general) to fight crime and protect law-abiding citizens. The Miranda warning is not a constitutional right…  it is a procedural safeguard imposed by the Supreme Court to make sure criminals do not suffer any violations of their constitutional rights with respect law enforcement. The Miranda warning includes elements of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination) and the Sixth Amendment (the right to counsel).  After Warren’s time as Chief Justice ended in the mid 1970’s, a more conservative Court appointed by President Richard Nixon set out to undermine the Miranda ruling.  For the next twenty years, the Court weakened Miranda by un-mooring it (unlinking it) to the Constitution.  The subsequent (conservative Courts), the Burger and Rehnquist Courts, later interpreted the Miranda holding as a mere prophylactic [protective] measure and made clear that a violation of Miranda does not equal a constitutional violation.” (1994).  While it was still illegal for prosecutors to use a transcript of a defendant’s coerced testimony against him or her at trial, the information gained from that testimony could still be used to build a case against an accused. The Supreme Court had the chance to re-visit Miranda warnings in 2000 (in Dickerson v. US) and overrule the Miranda decision, but it chose not to. It chose to save Miranda. In Dickerson, Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained that the Court would not address the issue of whether Miranda warnings constitute judicial overreaching (He wrote: “The Court may or may not agree”), but would stand on stare decisis (the judicial practice of relying on Supreme Court precedent, or prior decisions). In other words, the Court would not feel it was necessary to reverse the Miranda decision of 1966. Rehnquist made two points to support the decision: (1) “We do not think there is such justification for overruling Miranda. Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture,” (ie, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, etc);  and (2) The Supreme Court has already weakened Miranda sufficiently so that it no longer effectively prevents slaw enforcement from good police work.

8.  Read Article III.  It reads: “The judicial power of the United States….”   [“United States” means federal government.  When the Constitution was ratified, the nation was considered a Union of sovereign states. It’s name was NOT the “United States.”  If anything, the nation was referred to as “The united States,” meaning that the individual states have formerly decided to unite for limited and common purposes, for their ultimate protection and security].  So, the judicial power of the government was vested in one supreme court and other inferior courts (as the Congress might from time to time ordain and establish. In Section 2, the Constitution assigns jurisdiction to the Supreme Court. In certain cases, the Court has “original” jurisdiction (meaning that the first time a case is heard, it goes before the Supreme Court), but nowhere does the Constitution state that jurisdiction is also “exclusive.” So cases can be heard in State courts as well. Nowhere does the Constitution state that decisions by the Supreme Court trump decisions in a state’s highest court.

9.  Nowhere. The power to declare war is set out in Article I, Section 8.  In Article II (The Executive), it states clearly that the President only becomes the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy (and of the state militias) when they are called into service of the United States (again we see the term “United States.”  Again it means the federal government).  So the President becomes the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy when they are called into service by the federal government. In other words, only after Congress declares war are the forces of the United States called into action and only then does the President assume war powers.

NOTE:  Notice that the Constitution affirms the right of states to establish militias for their individual defense.  Most states have such forces established as state National Guards. In 2010, President Obama nationalized

nearly all National Guard Forces in various states; Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina – to name a few.  In response, the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have re-established “State Defense Forces.”  (These forces can go against federal forces should the need arise. Also important to note: There are NO federal laws prohibiting National Guard troops from also joining their State’s Defense Forces. This dilemma occurred during the Civil War with many “citizen soldiers” choosing to serve their states instead of the Federal Government).

10.  The Executive and Legislative branches have no such power. In fact, both branches are EXPRESSLY forbidden from limiting any of the rights acknowledged in the Bill of Rights. Likewise, they are forbidden, by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, from limiting the scope of rights reserved to the People and the States, respectfully, when the Bill of Rights were adopted (1789).

On the contrary, the Bill of Rights expressly limits the power of the federal government.

The Bill of Rights does not grant us any rights. Rather it re-affirms certain rights so fundamental, so essential, and so integral to our humanity and assures, through a permanent addition to the US Constitution, that the federal government cannot violate, infringe, or even burden such rights.

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights explains exactly the nature of the first ten amendments (Bill of Rights) as it relates to the Constitution.  It reads:

     “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”      (Wednesday, March 4, 1789)

The government is a limited social compact.  The Constitution, when ratified by 2/3 of the states back in 1787-1789, “created” or established the federal government. By its very terms and provisions, the government created was intended to be a limited common government for the purpose of “managing” and serving the States – not to control them. The Constitution creates a government separated into 3 distinct spheres of power (Separation of Powers), it creates a series of Checks and Balances, it checks power through the federal nature of government (States v. Federal Government, each possessing sovereign power; memorialized by the Tenth Amendment), and it further limits power by incorporation of the Bill of Rights.  If anyone can look at all these safeguards and not understand that our government was intended to be one of limited powers and limited scope, then they need more formal education.

11.  Nowhere

12.  Nowhere

13.  Nowhere.  Congress is given express authority to legislate for approximately 17 enumerated objects (Article II, Section 8).

14.  Nowhere

15.  It is the People’s document. It is a permanent and binding charter (social compact or social contract) which transfers limited sovereign power from a free people to a government for the purpose of that government to serve them and to protect their God-given inalienable rights (after all, “inalienable” means non-transferable. Fundamental human rights can never be divested or deprived from human beings…  that is, under the American system of government, thanks to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights).  The Constitution limits government in our lives – at least it was supposed to. It sets boundaries on government, thereby allowing us to freely exercise our natural, God-given, inalienable rights.  It is a RESTRAINING ORDER on government.

16.  The Constitution protects We the People from unsanctioned interference in our lives and upon our liberties and property by government.  It limits government in our lives.  See answer above.

17.  Nowhere

18.  Such a person would be a traitor.  Another title was invented by the Supreme Court (in an attempt to give FDR the extra power he wanted for the federal government; See Ex Parte Quirin, 1942) solely for the purposes of giving the President of the United States extraordinary power to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights in order to interrogate them and punish them.

Article III, Section 3 defines treason and defines a traitor:  “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. [ie, Waging war against the United States or aiding and abetting an enemy].

19.  NO !!!!  Treaties are equivalent in stature to federal law.  They have the same force of law and status as federal laws.

20.  The Tenth Amendment

21.  Article VI, Clause 2 (the “Supremacy Clause”). If a federal bill is not passed in “pursuance”  to the Constitution, it has no constitutional or legal authority and cannot be regarded as “supreme law of the land.”  If it is supreme, then the authority to regulate falls to the States. In fact, it is the duty of the States, under our notions of ordered liberty and under the Tenth Amendment, to prevent unconstitutional laws to be enforced upon a free people.

22.  Article VI, Clause 3. “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

23.  The “average citizen” or “voters.”   See the very recent cases of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v City of Chicago (2010) – both addressing the Second Amendment right to have and bear arms.

24.  Government serves We the People.”  It has no more authority to govern us, our lives, or our property than what is delegated expressly in the Constitution.  Same thing for state governments and state constitutions.  Constitutions represent the “Permanent Will of the People” in establishing the role, the scope, and the limits of government in their lives.

25.  The US Constitution

26.  It means two things. First, a federal law, for example, must comply with the procedural requirements of the Constitution such as being passed by both Houses of Congress before being signed by the President and appropriations bills must start in the House. Second, it must substantively comply with the Constitution i.e., be within the enumerated powers of the general government as spelled out in the Constitution.

27.  “No Person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible for the Office of President.”

The intent of this constitutional requirement that the President be a natural born citizen can be summarized by various letters written by Justice John Jay to President George Washington:

“The intent of the United States constitutional requirement that the President of the United States be a natural born Citizen of the United States is:

(1) to reduce the likelihood that a President of the United States would have a former, or present, attachment to a foreign country (because such an attachment could influence one to make decisions that would not promote the interests of the United States); and

(2) to increase the likelihood that the interests of any President of the United States will coincide with those of the United States.

What does “natural born citizen” mean?

—  “Born” means “from birth”

—  “Natural: means “having a normal or usual character” or “conforming to a thing’s natural or essential nature, function, association, or arrangement in nature – such as the natural bond between mother and child; the natural basis for reproduction

—  “Citizen” means “a person domiciled in the United States, for whom rights, privileges and immunities are set forth in the United States Constitution.”

–>  So, the following interpretation of the phrase “natural born citizen of the United States” most likely means: Those citizens born as citizens (of the United States) of the particular expectable kind that is considered by the United States as belonging to the United States to a maximal degree.

–>  The common understanding of a “natural born citizen” is that the following necessary and sufficient conditions must be found for a candidate to be considered a natural born citizen of the United States:

(i)  The person was born in the United States;

(ii)  Both parents of the person were Citizens of the United States when that person was born, and

(iii)  The person has been a Citizen of the United States, since birth.

NULLIFICATION IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS !!  Thomas Jefferson called Nullification the “Rightful Remedy” to stop the federal government from enforcing unconstitutional laws, policies, and court decisions on the American people. 

 Learn more about Nullification.   Join us at NULLIFY NOW! in Raleigh on Saturday, October 19 at 9:00 am the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury Street, downtown Raleigh.   SPEAKERS include Thomas Woods (author of “Nullification: How to Fight Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century”), Mike Church (conservative talk radio show host and producer), Publius Huldah (dynamo strict constitutionalist and lawyer), Michael Boldin, Dr. Greg Brannon (running for US Senate), Dr. Dan Eichenbaum (of Dr. Dan’s Freedom Forum), and others!   Get your tickets now for $10.00 – at 

Nullification and A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson as Colonel Jessup #2

by Diane Rufino, June 22, 2013

I am an attorney. I studied the law. I studied Constitutional Law.  Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News Senior Analyst, was my Con Law professor and not only taught me constitutional law jurisprudence but taught me the passion in understanding how this great document defines our government and protects our individual rights.

Having said that, it should be noted that law schools teach Constitutional Law and not the Constitution. They don’t teach the Constitution from the Founders’ point of view, they don’t refer to the Federalist Papers, and they rarely even refer to decisions as “judicial activism.” The Constitution is taught not according to what it was intended to mean, but rather, according to the many landmark Supreme Court decisions which have interpreted it, defined it, and in almost all cases, broadened it. As one law student put it: ” I don’t know about the experience of other people who have attended law school, but I’d estimate that we spent perhaps only 0.5% of the time between two semesters of Constitutional Law learning about what the Constitution says and what the Founding Fathers intended. We spent no time on the Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was only mentioned simply as a historical fact and no more was discussed on the matter. The intent of the Founders can’t be found anywhere in my Con Law book or any other books we read. In fact, the only time I recall reading about the Founder’s intent was when Justice Scalia wrote the opinion, the concurring opinion, or the dissent in cases.”

Considering that the foundation of government in our country is based on the Constitution, wouldn’t it make more sense to teach lawyers how best to preserve its integrity rather than inspire them to help dismantle it?  Wouldn’t it be exceedingly prudent to teach students what the Constitution means, why it was drafted and intended as it was, and what essential principles and ideals underlie it?

Unfortunately, although I attended public school before much of the current progressive agenda kicked in, I still never learned much about our founding history, our founding documents, or our founding principles. I know it has only gotten “progressively worse,” if you’ll excuse the pun. After high school, I went to college, then graduate school, then took post-graduate classes, and then finally went to law school. All the while I had to work while taking classes in order to support myself or, as in the case of law school, I had just gotten married and was giving birth to my four children (pregnant my entire time in law school). The point is that life was happening. I was just going with the flow, doing the best I could, and trying to get by. I had no extra time to read the Anti-Federalist Papers, the Federalist Papers, the Notes on the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and the debates surrounding the state ratifying conventions. So when I left law school, I knew what judges have said about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, but I didn’t know what our very Founders said or intended with that document.

Luckily (and I do mean “luckily”), I lost my job in 2010 when the economy tanked. When it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to find a job any time soon, I finally committed myself to study the documents I should have studied BEFORE going to law school and reading what judges have said. I can tell you that a study of our Constitution from the perspective of our Founding Fathers and the states who were initially were skeptical of it was one of the most eye-opening experiences for me. All of a sudden, things began to make sense. The story of our founding is inspiring, but no more inspiring than those men who used their brilliant minds to find the proper philosophy to explain the role of government, who used their debate skills to come up with the best design of government, who used their keen sense of intuition to include the proper procedural checks (and balances) to keep the branches of government within their respective spheres, and who used the proper words to draft a constitution that would most effectively and securely protect individual inalienable rights and right to have a government by the consent of the governed.  Never have I felt more proud or felt so lucky to be born an American. I have done my best to educate others ever since. I hope every American will find the opportunity to have the same epiphany that I did.

Of all the principles and ideals that our country was founded on, my greatest passion is States’ Rights and Nullification. Perhaps it’s because those two concepts are the ones which have been most vilified and eroded over our history, and most certainly since the time of the Civil War. Or maybe it’s perhaps because Thomas Jefferson is my favorite Founding Father and aside from the fact that he drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance, and gave us our Right of Religion, he clearly expressed the viewpoint that in order to keep the federal government limited in scope, the States would have to be willing to defend their sovereignty.  I’ve been writing about Nullification for years. Nullification, in short, stands for the principle that any law passed without proper authority is not a valid law and is not enforceable on a people. In the US, the Constitution lists what authority the federal government and acknowledges that whatever powers were not delegated expressly to the government are reserved by the states. Article VI, Section 2 (the Supremacy Clause) states that the Constitution and all laws passed in pursuance to it are supreme law.  The reverse is therefore implied and true – that all laws NOT passed in pursuance to powers delegated by the Constitution are not supreme. The states therefore have no obligation to recognize or enforce them. This is the concept of Dual Sovereignty which is the unique and most brilliant feature of our government system. Since both the States and the federal government are sovereign over their respective powers, each will forever act as “jealous guardians” over those powers and prevent each other from encroaching into their domain. The Sons of Liberty, in effect, “nullified” such Intolerable Acts passed by the British Crown/Parliament as the Tea Act, the Stamp Act, and the Quartering Act when they engaged in simple acts of civil disobedience which prevented their enforcement. The Sons of Liberty harassed colonial Stamp agents so thoroughly that they resigned and the British could not collect the tax on paper goods. The reason they protested those Intolerable Acts was because they knew their rights as colonial British subjects and knew that they were being violated. The King was acting outside his authority to rule the colonies.  As most people are unaware, nullification (although not known by that term until Jefferson coined it in the Kentucky Resolves of 1799) is a firmly-entrenched constitutional principle. It was discussed at every stage of the drafting and ratification of the Constitution..  again, not by that term, of course. In the Constitutional Convention, delegates roundly rejected James Madison’s version of a strong centralized government. (He was initially a Nationalist). Madison called for a centralized government that was not limited in its powers. As if that wasn’t enough, he called for a “government veto” whereby the federal government could veto any action by any state that it did not approve of. The other delegates, mostly Federalists, quickly rejected that part of the Plan (the Virginia Plan). If there would be any “veto,” it would be a “state veto” which would be the power of any state to  declare when the government had overstepped its limited, constitutional bounds, and encroached into the states’ sovereign powers. A state veto is the same as Nullification. The Senate branch of the Legislature (pre-17th Amendment) was a direct “state veto” power within the structure of government. If the states felt that any piece of legislation was without proper authority or in abuse of authority, its Senators would simply vote it down. (That’s why we need to abolish the 17th Amendment and re-establish the Senate as a body devoted to States’ interests). The states’ ratifying conventions also spoke about the right and duty of states to exercise its “veto” power.  It was always assumed that under the “compact nature” of the Union (ie, the states signing the Constitution, agreeing to equally delegate some of their sovereign power to the federal government and to be commonly bound… thus, the “united” States), the states had the power to remind the government of what powers it had and did not have.

Nullification is based on the federal nature of our government, on the Supremacy Clause, and most strongly, on the compact nature of the Constitution. Americans are not taught their founding history and are certainly not taught the principles that underlie their government. They talk about “checks and balances” but only the simple ones – the president’s veto power and the federal courts. But the most important of checks and balances is indeed this notion of Dual Sovereignty and the WILLINGNESS OF STATES to STAND UP TO UNCONSTITUTIONAL CONDUCT BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT !!

The problem, at least in my state of North Carolina, is that state officials are too afraid to assert state sovereignty. It’s offensive to hear the reasons they give. Here are a few of the explanations that GOP leaders in our state house and senate have personally given to me: “It is not our place to second-guess the actions of the federal government.”  “We will never use strong language against the federal government. It’s just not going to happen.”   ”Nullification is an out-dated, racist doctrine that was used to perpetuate slavery. It has no basis in the constitution and is illegitimate.”  “The Tenth Amendment no longer means what it used to. In fact, the Constitution in general no longer means what it used to.” When I asked why that is so, the senator answered: “It’s simple… We lost the Civil War.”  It’s morons like this who will sit back and watch as this government treats its citizens worse than King George treated the colonists. The only difference is that the colonists were intensively protective of their human rights and had a backbone.

This past Wednesday, I traveled to Washington DC to attend the “Audit the IRS” rally.  My husband tried to discourage me from going. He said it would end up being like all the other rallies – exercises in futility. He thought I shouldn’t waste my time and energy (as well as my monthly allowance for books !!) on the trip and just stay home with the kids. Maybe when it’s all said and done, the rally will end up just being a feel-good event. But I told him the real reason I enjoy making the trips to DC to protest. I enjoy seeing Americans all fired up and willing to stand up for the Constitution and for the ideals that made this country great. It does my heart good. I’m always humbled at all the people who travel great distances and at great inconvenience. The folks I stood next to on Wednesday were from Washington state. It just shows me that if things were to get more serious – if they were to get really bad – there still are a lot of patriots in this country who are willing to pick up where the Sons of Liberty left off. The spirit of the Revolution is not dead. It lives on. In fact, I’m positive that it is growing. And when I go to these rallies, I’m reminded of that. And I’m reassured.  Also, I’m always so happy to spend the day with folks who use words like Constitution, Founding Fathers, Declaration of Independence, Limited Government, Inalienable Rights, States’ Rights, and Consent of the Governed.

It reminds me of that movie A FEW GOOD MEN, with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. Nicholson, as Colonel Jessup, takes the stand and delivers that famous dialogue:

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? ….. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

We use words, as I just mentioned, like Constitution, Founding Fathers, Declaration of Independence, Limited Government, Inalienable Rights, States’ Rights, and Consent of the Governed… as the backbone of the liberty that we seek to defend. Our opposition, while enjoying the very freedom that is protected by our founding documents and founding ideals, uses those very same words as a punchline and even as a means to target us for government intimidation and to label us as potential domestic terrorists.

So many people buy into the government’s indoctrination that they must be good stewards of the state and obey laws without questioning them. They regurgitate views of state sovereignty and nullification that would make Abraham Lincoln and the post-Civil War government proud.  They think that states have no rights and certainly that they themselves, as individuals, have no power to make a difference in the policies and dealings of government. In reality, the answer to all of the problems associated with a large, centralized, unconstitutional government lies with the States and the People. Nullification has always been in the arsenal of constitutional remedies. It is the most viable remedy at this point. Furthermore, We the People, have power as well. The power over government has always resided in the People. We just have to be reminded of that, become educated, learn how to use that power, and most of all, be willing to step up and use it!!

For those who would like to learn more about Nullification and how it can be used to fit the federal government back within the boundaries of the Constitution, please consider attending the Nullify Now! event in Raleigh, NC on Saturday, October 19th at the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St.  The event, organized by the NC Tenth Amendment Center, is part of a nationwide tour to educate and engage people as to this doctrine, which Thomas Jefferson termed “the Rightful Remedy.”  Tickets are available at

Nullify Now! Coming to Raleigh, NC

Nullification - Tenth Amendment language    by Diane Rufino, May 27, 2013
The NC Tenth Amendment Center is organizing a Nullify Now! Rally in Raleigh this fall. Nullify Now! is a national tour, sponsored by the Tenth Amendment Center and Foundation for a Free Society, to educate and activate Americans on the Jeffersonian principle of Nullification. Nullification, simply put, is the right of the state, under the Tenth Amendment and Supremacy Clause, to reject, nullify, and refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal acts – from all three branches!!  The Raleigh event will be in September or October, depending upon the venue that is chosen. We want to start getting the word out now and ask that people share the information with as many people and groups as possible. There is perhaps nothing more important in the defense of liberty in our current precarious times than the education of ordinary Americans and state officials on the topic of Nullification. And given the hostility of our current leadership in the state legislature to states’ rights movements and the general reluctance in both houses to stand up to unconstitutional federal action, the time is now to begin that education.  Nullify Now.

The event capitalizes on the best-selling book “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century,” by historian Thomas Woods.  Thanks to this important contribution by Mr. Woods, the doctrine of nullification, a founding principle, is being re-introduced to Americans and being revived all over the country. Its power and significance is ever more clear now that our own government has become a source of tyranny and oppression. Thomas Woods is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the author of other best-sellers, such as “Meltdown,” and “Rollback.”

In a nutshell, nullification is a constitutional doctrine that acknowledges the division of power between the federal government and the States – ie, the federal nature of our government. The right of each sovereign – the federal government and each state – to jealously guard its powers, and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which announces that only those laws made in pursuance to the delegated powers to each branch, are supreme and enforceable. In other words, any law that is not made in pursuance of a power expressly delegated to the government or any law made that abuses any constitutional power is null and void and unenforceable. The term “Nullification” was coined by Thomas Jefferson in 1799 in addressing the unconstitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts, but the fact is that the doctrine is as deeply rooted in our founding as is the sovereignty of the individual, the inalienability of fundamental liberties, federalism, supremacy, and checks and balances. When the state delegates met in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a new constitution, their task was to design a common government that would take care of overlapping functions and allow the states to sufficiently unite. James Madison, the major architect of the Convention and of the “new” government, arrived in Philadelphia with quite a different scheme than what he eventually came to embrace. He arrived as a “nationalist,” believing in a strong national government of centralized powers that compromised the sovereignty of the individual states. In fact, his scheme of government would have given the federal government a “negative” (or a veto) on any state action that the government believed was at odds with its interests. But communications with Thomas Jefferson (letters from France) and a stark rejection by an overwhelming majority of delegates helped him understand the wisdom of a “federal” government of limited powers, with the “negative” (or veto) being given to the States who would be the sovereigns most likely to find their powers intruded upon and jeopardized.  Therefore, the legislative branch was designed as a bicameral branch, with one house representing the interests of the states (Senate), which gave the states an immediate opportunity to “negate” or veto an act of the legislature that it believed exceeded the scope of the Constitution and encroached upon the powers of the States.  To further entrench the notion that States retain the bulk of their sovereign powers and therefore have a right to assert them, the Tenth Amendment was proposed by the states and added to the Constitution (otherwise they wouldn’t ratify it).  A state “negative” is what Jefferson would later refer to as “nullification.”

For almost 200 years, the federal government has looked to its constitutional limitations with disdain.  It dared to take the position that the Constitution is one of hidden and implied powers and that government needs what it needs.  And it found a way around those limitations. First the Supreme Court delegated itself the exclusive power to declare what the Constitution means and what powers the government has. Yes, a branch of the government declared it would figure out what powers it has. And from that moment, the exercise of constitutional interpretation evolved into an opportunity for nine unelected individuals to use the bench to re-interpret our Constitution, to transform the intent of government, and to effect societal change (good and bad). Thomas Jefferson warned about this: “To consider the Judges of the Superior Court as the ultimate arbiters of constitutional questions would be a dangerous doctrine which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. They have with others, the same passion for party, for power, and for the privileges of their corps – and their power is the most dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the Elective control. The Constitution has elected no single tribunal.  I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves.”  The questions are these: Will federal politicians act to limit their own power?  Will federal judges limit their power?  The answer to both questions is no.  If  the federal government – all 3 branches – were ever to be the sole and exclusive arbiter of the extent of their own power, that power would always grow. And then we are in a position where the “abuses and usurpations” of government and of human liberties that were levied against King George of England and which justified the fight for our independence are being willingly tolerated here in the United States in the 21st century.  Nothing can be more dangerous since the Constitution is the document that protects our precious rights laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Education on the doctrine of nullification is an education on how the States and the People can constitutionally exercise rights that the government now believes don’t exist.

Critics contend that states have no power to review the constitutionality of federal laws and federal action.

“That’s what the courts are for,” they say.  Those very courts, after the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that the federal courts are to interpret the Constitution and judges are limited by its precise wording and intention, have gone way beyond simple constitutional interpretation to make policy from the bench. Those very courts, after the decision in Marbury, have reclassified the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” that is no longer confined to traditional interpretation.  Those same courts have rendered decisions on secession and nullification when those topics aren’t even addressed in the Constitution (federal courts are limited to federal questions – alleged violations of the US Constitution, federal law, or a treaty to which the US is a party).  Those same courts told Dred Scott that black people don’t have any rights under our Declaration or Constitution and approved the indefinite detention of an entire race of citizens in the 1940′s.  No freedom-loving person should be looking at the courts to defend and preserve liberty.

The States, and not the courts, will be the ones to stop unconstitutional federal mandates.  As Thomas Jefferson said, Nullification is the “Rightful Remedy.”

Since September 2010, the Tenth Amendment Center has been hosting a national tour to educate people on this topic and to re-engage them with their Constitution and principles of freedom. The goal is to teach about nullification, its constitutional basis, when it’s been used in history, why the criticisms (ie, “It’s unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled on it” and “The Civil War settled it”) are misinformed, why nullification has become more popular, why Americans need to learn about this doctrine, and its potential. So far, Nullify Now! events have been held in Orlando, Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Austin, Jacksonville, and Manchester, NH.  Raleigh is the next conference. Our neighbors, South Carolina and Virginia, are both planning them in their states. Future events are also being organized in the Bay Area, CA, Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Indianapolis, Chicago, and in the states of Idaho, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

The opponents of nullification and the mainstream media want Americans to believe that Nullification is an evil doctrine because it was used to support slavery. They want to shame citizens into believing that to support this concept is to be un-American and to somehow endorse the mindset that gave rise to the Civil War. These false arguments are the very reason that the Tenth Amendment Center felt it was necessary to begin a campaign of proper education.  The truth will allow everyone to come to an educated conclusion about nullification.

The Tenth Amendment knows that the topic of Nullification is one clouded in mystery. People want to know more but don’t know where to learn about it truthfully. They want to believe there is a constitutional way for their states to protect their individual rights. In North Carolina, people have heard disturbing comments from their elected state leaders in the past year, such as the following: “Because NC lost the Civil War, we have no right to second-guess the actions and policies of the federal government.”  “The state constitution forbids us to second-guess the federal government. It’s essentially a surrender document that hasn’t been amended.”  “The 10th Amendment no longer means what it used to. That was decided by the Civil War.”  “The US Constitution doesn’t mean what it used to and we really don’t know what it means now.”  ”Nullification is an outdated, racist doctrine that was used for bad and has no legitimacy.” “The legitimacy of Nullification was decided by the Supreme Court.”  Can these statements possibly be correct?  Education will give people of North Carolina the answer. We hope it will also educate those officials who articulated these offensive positions. Fortunately, the Tenth Amendment Center promotes the topic of Nullification from the mouth and pen of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, our most important of Founding Fathers. Each wrote a critical founding document and therefore are the proper authorities on the subject.

I’m sure liberty-minded folks support the notion that the federal government is one of limited powers and that the Supremacy Clause is a recognition of that limit and not an open invitation to the government to rule supremely on any and all objects it wants to. It can’t be that the federal government has the sole and exclusive authority to declare what the constitution means and how it applies to its branches and powers. The government can’t be sole and exclusive authority on the extent of its own powers. It’s a sure path to tyranny. I agree that the term “Nullification” scares many people and puts them on the offensive because of the crisis of 1832 with John Calhoun and South Carolina and because of the actions of Southern Democratic leaders in the post-Brown v. Board of Education era to repudiate the decision to integrate schools and society. I certainly get it and understand the negative connotations. But the positive exercises (not necessarily summoning the term “nullification”) have far out-weighed them, such as the actions of the Sons of Liberty which so thoroughly frustrated the British agents in the colonies prior to 1776 that such intolerable acts as the Stamp Act and Quartering Acts could never be enforced, the insistence in the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and in the individual state ratifying conventions for a state “negative” on the federal government (the Senate branch and the Tenth Amendment are examples), the nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act by the southern states, the nullification by a state court of Wisconsin (Glover case 1854) of the Fugitive Slave Act (in fact, the WI court said, despite what the US Supreme Court would later say in Dred Scott that Africans were not a class of persons covered by the Constitution or Declaration and hence were not entitled to any protections offered by those documents, including not having a right to bring suit, slaves and former slaves absolutely have a right to bring an action in a court of law), the state opposition to the federal Real ID which has effectively prevented its enforcement, the nullification of the NDAA by Virginia, and the rejection of state health insurance exchanges by 26 states as a way to show their opposition to federal intrusion into a state matter – healthcare, These are just a few instances of nullification (the pushing back of the federal government because it attempted to over-reach its constitutional authority.

There are many things going on at the national level which threaten our precious American freedoms. The War on Terrorism has expanded executive powers and extended the Rules of War to our homeland, thereby clashing with our Bill of Rights. There is talk of limiting the scope of the Second Amendment. The federal taxing power has been expanded by the Obamacare decision to give the government the option of coercing and controlling human conduct in the marketplace and in controlling human behavior in general.  Unelected officials are using the full power of the federal government to target, harass, censor, and intimidate American citizens. And privacy rights have never been so fragile. Everyone has an issue that is important to them, whether it be gun ownership rights, losing control over one’s healthcare because of Obamacare, gay marriage, the expansion of Homeland Security to spy on ordinary Americans, the drones-in-the-sky program, etc.  It may not be my issue or your issue, but collectively they all touch on the one thing that unites us in a common title – that of an “American.”  Americans enjoy a country where the government is tasked first and foremost with protecting their freedom.  When I think of how groups try to shut each other down or marginalize their issues, I can’t help but think of the words that Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote in light of the Nazi Holocaust:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

To minimize the freedom and expression of one group is to minimize freedom and express for all.

Take, for example, the Daily Kos. It accuses conservatives of trying to prevent and thwart social progress in the United States.  It writes that “their weapons of choice are nullification and secession.” It writes that conservatives resort to “these pernicious ideas in order to prevail on such issues as the rights of the unborn and gun rights.” To equate conservatives as enemies of the state is to silence the voice of our Founding Fathers on critical issues that touch on successful government and human liberty. To shut down those who speak for the unborn is to deny the unborn a voice.

The Daily Kos is wrong.  The weapon of choice for conservatives is education.

Please plan to attend the Nullify Now! event in Raleigh this fall. Once the date and venue are set, it will be posted on the NC Tenth Amendment Center website and Facebook page. In the meantime, please help spread the word.

      ***  Diane Rufino is the Deputy Director of the NC Tenth Amendment Center