A revolution both revolutionary and constitutional

Glenn Reynolds linked a post by Gay Patriot the other day that touched on a very familiar issue:

Are we facing another American Revolution?

Gay Patriot links this widely circulated piece that appeared in Investors Business Daily, and adds,

It is interesting to see a number of people now thinking the way I have been since August 2009. I certainly am not advocating armed revolution. But I also know that we have the right to it under the Declaration of Indepedence.
Except I don't think we need to reach back quite that far. Our right to a revolution is something we have here and now, in the form of the United States Constitution.

Few people knew that better than Thomas Jefferson when he faced an out-of-control federal government which was directly violating the Constitution by asserting powers it did not have. Jefferson (the author of the Declaration of Independence) could easily have reached back in time to assert the natural rights of the Declaration, which was a mere 22 years old in 1798. But he didn't. Instead, he asserted -- in the Kentucky Resolution -- the revolutionary rights found in the Constitution itself :

Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the laws of nations, and no other crimes, whatsoever; and it being true, as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that "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,"--therefore, also, the same act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and entitled "An Act in Addition to the Act entitled 'An Act for the Punishment of certain Crimes against the United States;'" as also the act passed by them on the 27th day of June, 1798, entitled "An Act to punish Frauds committed on the Bank of the United States," (and all other their acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes other than those so enumerated in the Constitution,) are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish, such other crimes is reserved, and of right appertains, solely and exclusively, to the respective states, each within its own territory.
(Emphasis added.)

You can take out "An Act for the Punishment" of this or that, and plug in any or all of umpteen thousand federal laws -- every one of which Jefferson (who would be a federal felon were he alive today) would agree are null and void.

And Voila! There's your revolution. Call it a constitutional revolution if you will, but right there in the Constitution there is a constitutional right to what would absolutely be a revolution by today's standards.

Let me repeat, the assertion of our constitutional rights is now a revolutionary act.

I realize that many in the so-called "ruling class" would throw a fit over this idea, and they would argue that such thinking would bring about what they'd undoubtedly call a "Constitutional Crisis."

Hey, when the Constitution has been ignored and violated as long as it has now, when we have reached the point where the final coffin nails are being driven in, I'd say that we're already way past the "Constitutional Crisis" stage.

An ignored and violated Constitution is a Constitution in crisis.

We have the right to do something about it, and the state of Missouri is leading the way.

Jefferson's Kentucky Resolution was shortly followed by Madison's Virginia Resolution, which echoes the same central point.

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government as resulting from the compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties, appertaining to them.
I shouldn't have to point out the obvious, but as Madison had been the principal author of the Constitution, I think it's fair to conclude that he knew what it meant.

Interestingly, Jefferson biographers have argued that the idea of asserting the revolutionary rights which are within Constitution would come back to haunt the country:

Called forth by oppressive legislation of the national government, notably the Alien and Sedition Laws, they represented a vigorous defense of the principles of freedom and self-government under the United States Constitution. But since the defense involved an appeal to principles of state rights, the resolutions struck a line of argument potentially as dangerous to the Union as were the odious laws to the freedom with which it was identified. One hysteria tended to produce another. A crisis of freedom threatened to become a crisis of Union. The latter was deferred in 1798-1800, but it would return, and when it did the principles Jefferson had invoked against the Alien and Sedition Laws would sustain delusions of state sovereignty fully as violent as the Federalist delusions he had combated.[5]
Far be it from me to defend Thomas Jefferson against charges made by his biographer, but the insinuation made there (by Merrill Peterson in Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography) clearly involves the Civil War. And I hate the way liberals try to chain-link federalists to constitutionalists, to states rightists, to racists, to "neo-confederates" and probably to Nazis, in demagogic connect-the-dots fashion.

The simple fact is, just as it did not prohibit murder or any other non-enumerated activity, the Constitution did not prohibit slavery. It now does. That's not simply by action of war, but because of the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment. So, in addition to having only the enumerated powers that Jefferson and Madison made clear, the Constitution prohibits slavery, allows women to vote, allows taxation of all income from whatever source derived. And for a time, it prohibited booze.

All the rest is unconstitutional.

And we have a truly revolutionary remedy.

All we need to do is assert it.

posted by Eric on 08.05.10 at 01:05 PM


Its important to recognize that the recent rebirth of revolutionary zeal didn't arise in a vacuum. The triumvirate of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid is accomplishing a dramatic growth of the federal government and also attempting a long term transformation of political power and culture. Some believe that our economy is too powerful and our belief in individual freedom is too ingrained for them to succeed. Regardless, I think that they intend to push the envelope until something breaks. Its time to start thinking a few steps ahead.

TomA   ·  August 5, 2010 4:05 PM

The Revolution Will Be Exit-Polled.

filbert   ·  August 6, 2010 12:17 AM

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