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NH HCR 6: Wonderful Legislation

A RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles

Key points:

  • whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force
  • all acts of Congress which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void
  • to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government [...] is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States
  • where powers are assumed [by the Federal Government] which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy
  • it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism
  • this State does therefore call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the federal compact
  • the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, 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, shall be exercised within their respective territories

any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually.

I love this. It is legislative notice that NH views the Constitution as an agreement between the states, and that usurpation of powers by the federal government beyond those granted to it by the Constitution are a violation and revocation of that agreement. This does not change anything–as you remember from Civics class, this is in theory how things work already–but it’s a formal reminder of that fact.

I’d be surprised if this thing passes; perhaps I am cynical, but I think that people are in general too comfortable with the notion of the United States as a single federal entity to truly enjoy the possibility that the states can effectively limit its powers. Even so, I plan on writing to encourage this thing’s passage. If you’re also a NH citizen, I encourage you to do the same; you can find who to write to here.

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Comment by Explodicle Windows XP Internet Explorer 6.0
2009-02-11 09:28:06

The whole “states rights” thing has gone downhill since the civil war. Now that a state cannot secede from the union, the growth of federal power is inevitable.

Comment by coriolinus Windows XP Mozilla Firefox 3.0.6
2009-02-12 11:49:58

I am not convinced that secession is forever impossible. If NH were to make the attempt–and base it purely on laws like this, limiting federal power–what would happen? A War on New Hampshire? A War on State’s Rights? The federal government would surely win the first, at the cost of making it much harder for it to win the second.

Comment by "Rourke" Windows XP Mozilla Firefox Subscribed to comments via email
2009-02-12 11:19:11

Um. I’m one of those people who thinks the decline of the “states’ rights” movement was a good thing. Sure, federal power must always be watched and people must always ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand… but I don’t, honestly, think states should be able to secede or nullify laws. It’s just more useful to have a strong federal government.

Comment by coriolinus Windows XP Mozilla Firefox 3.0.6
2009-02-12 11:46:43

Really? How are states supposed to regulate federal power if they don’t have the power to secede or nullify laws that the federal government is not allowed to pass?


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