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When the "bogeyman" of federalism returned to Alabama last week, the current stewards of that once-defiant State caved to the demands of the federal courts.

The current controversy surrounds the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from outside the Alabama State Courthouse.  The issue is the "separation of church and state" found nowhere in the Constitution.  This continues to be divisive because the majority of Americans have never read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or even the First Amendment.  Instead, they allow legal "experts," politicians, and activists to teach them that the Constitution is a "living" document.  The ignorant and intellectually lazy blindly accept that as society "evolves," so too must government; it must grow to "facilitate" and "regulate" change.

Federal authority has expanded ceaselessly while the reserved powers of the States have disappeared.  The rights of the individual citizen have been regulated out of existence by the federal courts under the pretense of "balancing" rights with the "needs" of government.  The federal demand to remove the monument in Alabama, and the slavish compliance of that State's current "leadership," are, as Jefferson might have identified, part of that "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" which condemn posterity to a permanent condition of slavery.

The Ten Commandments monument is not a federal issue.  If people in this country spent more time reading and thinking, and less time reclining, they would understand why this is not a federal issue.  Nothing in the U. S. Constitution gives the president, Congress, and most certainly, the federal courts, the authority to promote, inhibit, or regulate religion at the State level.

The only reference to religion in the Constitution is the Article VI prohibition of a religious test as "a Qualification to any office or public trust under the United States," which is not applicable to the individual States, and the First Amendment directive that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The fact that federal courts have misinterpreted and misapplied the Fourteenth Amendment should in no way negate the explicit wording of the Constitution.  By implication, then, the opinions of "experts," analysts, and politicians are based upon the incompetence and malfeasance of federal judges.  States and individual citizens should be absolved from taking them seriously or following their official directives.

Ayesha Khan, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, described defiance to the monument's removal as "tyranny" and "anarchy."  She added that "defiance of a federal court order (to remove the monument) is the least patriotic act a person can take."  She personified the delusional state of many Americans when she said, "we live in a country where the federal courts are the ultimate arbiters of what violates the Constitution."  If she is correct, "unpatriotic" Americans currently protesting in Alabama should be able to verify her claim by referring to the proper amendment to the Constitution granting that authority to the federal courts.  In point of fact, no such authority legally exists.

Thomas Jefferson once addressed who was the "final arbiter" of what the Constitution said, and it was not the federal courts.  In the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, Jefferson wrote, "the government created by this compact (the Constitution) was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself."  To do so would make "its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers."  In the federal compact, each state had "an equal right to judge for itself" what constituted federal "infractions" of proper authority, as well as "the mode and measure of redress" to those infractions.   

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal "analyst," which to the mentally-challenged is synonymous with "expert," said, "if the federal courts say the monument has to go - the monument has to go.  And you don't have a First Amendment right to defy that ruling."  Despite his "expert" status, Mr. Toobin is no more qualified to render an opinion than Ms. Khan.

The federal courts have no authority at the State level on this issue.  Precedent is irrelevant.  Once again, referring to Jefferson in the Kentucky Resolution, "whenever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force."  The protestors and the State of Alabama have a right to defy the federal court's ruling on the basis that it is, as Jefferson pointed out, "of no force," simply because it exceeds properly delegated authority.

The Bush administration added its own subterfuge to the monument removal.  Speaking through spokeswoman Claire Buchan, the White House asked all Americans to "respect our laws and our courts."  The White House position is more a tactical move than one of "leadership."  With Attorney General John Ashcroft touring the country promoting the president's pet project of unconstitutional government authority, the Patriot Act, the last thing the White House wants to do is go on the public record as encouraging Americans to defy the order of federal judges, the Constitution be damned.

Appropriate leadership on the issue of "church and state" was expressed long ago by Thomas Jefferson.  Responding to a request that he call for a day of national prayer and fasting, President Jefferson wrote Reverend Samuel Miller that the power to "prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline" in our system of government, can only "rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority."  Federalism, and not the president, Congress, and most certainly the courts, was the solution to religious issues at the State level.

If one State will not defend a harmless rock now, then several States will never again stand in defiance of real federal oppression later.  When you get the chance, thank ignorant, lazy, and cowardly Americans; they have forged the shackles which await your grandchildren.
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In Defense of a Harmless Rock

Harry Goslin September 9 2003

No longer do the halls of Alabama State government resonate with the passion of George Wallace, whose unpopular stand for segregation in defense of federalism unfortunately tainted that indispensable principle of limited government.
Harry Goslin welcomes your comments at
Previously by this author: I Have a Dream, 2003
Disclaimer: This column appears as would a syndicated column in a newspaper. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Alex Jones.