Tenth Amendment Rights Townhall (Part 3)

Posted on March 20, 2010. Filed under: Activism, Conservative, government, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |



We come now to the third segment in our series on the Tenth Amendment Town Hall in Plano Texas. This segment focuses on the states’ rights panel, and the panel on nullification.

The States’ Rights Panel was comprised of the following distinguished individuals:

  • Texas State Representative:  Bryan Hughes
  • Rachel Brand:  Attorney with WilmerHale; Former Assistant Attorney General
  • Ken Emmanuelson:  Attorney and Co-founder of the Dallas Tea Party
  • Matt Miller – Attorney, Institute for Justice, Texas Chapter

There are several options that should be considered as the states reaffirm their rights. There was a lot of discussion in this segment on how the Federal Government has chipped away at state rights for decades. Interstate Commerce became an umbrella clause used to permit almost any action the Federal Government wanted to mandate. Several cases such as Lopez as come up that are bringing the rights back into the states.

States can refuse to cooperate with federal mandates. The entire panel agreed the states need to take their power seriously and step up and control the situation. The Texas Constitution defines everything perfectly and complements the powers given to the people in the US Constitution.

This segment began with questions from the audience on specific topics. One of the most lively discussions was about immigration. Given that the 10th amendment exists, is there a way for TX to enforce the immigration laws? As a practical matter, in Texas we are allowed to enforce laws. Representative Bryan Hughes stated “We have put more people and technology in the border area, even if we cannot do specific enforcement at the border.” Ken Emmanuelson thought we need to enforce at the local level. Everyone should do their homework and hold local officials accountable. The speakers agreed the concept of sanctuary cities needs to go. The panel thought it would be useful to institute e-verify.

Ms. Brand spoke extensively about the 287 G law (cooperative immigration law that uses Federal and State authorities working together) that is in place. Immigration law is very complex between the federal and state government. There are some instances where we need to accept fed money. She acknowledged there are some unique issues such as immigration that are paid by the fed government. We can’t arrest them for entering illegal, but we can arrest them for breaking other specific laws.

Can we impound the fed tax money and use it for our purposes? Per Bryan Hughes: Unfortunately, how can we do this without fear of consequence from them? Texas is one of the few states that can say no to a lot of the stimulus and other funds. It would not be possible to refuse all of it. There are many things that should be covered by the Federal Government.

The Nullification Panel was comprised of the following distinguished individuals:

  • Robert L. Flournoy: Attorney
  • Greg Holloway: Attorney and co-founder of Common Sense Texans
  • Hiram Sasser:  Director of litigation, Liberty Legal Institute
  • Dan Mornoff, Atty. K & L Gates

The opinion of this panel was unanimous with regard to the topic of nullification. Nullification is a possibility, although it is practically very limited in scope. This is clearly not the best course of action for the state or the citizens at this time.

Enforcement of State Rights is not the only means, but is the most immediate and effective resource we have to combat the Federal expansion of power. We do our job with honor and decorum, but we as Texans will do whatever is possible to ensure this government does not succeed in expanding their power. Texas is full of great men and women who are stepping up to ensure this government is not successful in limiting our liberty.

Nullification is like using a water pistol to put out a forest fire. You will be laughed out of court if you file stating federal mandates do not apply to us. In fact, sanctions may be levied against the respective state and the citizens who file this action.

The panel of constitutional experts agreed for a successful result, we need to pursue aggressively and collectively (as many states as possible) to maintain our 10th amendment rights. Legally this is the most effective way to ensure the desired result.

From the audience, there was some discussion on the topic of immigration and what we can do to limit Texas money from being sent out of the state by the illegal immigrants. The following suggestion was made: Is it constitutional to put a transactional tax on financial transactions going from here to Mexico? The panel’s response was: This is a good example of how to affect a behavior using a legal transaction, however yet again, this would involve a cooperative effort with the Federal Government because it involves a transaction that crosses the state border and involves an international transaction.

The panel was clear in their overview on nullification. This will not work, given how far we have come from state rights due to the decisions over the past decades by the US Supreme Court. The states must use the most powerful tool at their disposal for such an obvious attempt of the expansion of Federal Power. The choice is to use the state rights to protect the citizens.

For further information on the topic, I’ve included the link to the positioning paper offered by the Texas Conservative Coalition:  http://www.txcc.org/files/TenthAmendmentIssueBrief.pdf
Thank you to Brent Connett of the Texas Conservative Coalition for assisting us with this document.

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