Supreme Court Overturns Thomas Jefferson. Time to Nullify!

Supreme Court Overturns Thomas Jefferson. Time to Nullify!
by JBS President John F. McManus

There is no mention in the Constitution of federal power to start a medical care program. Likewise, there is no place in the Constitution authorizing any branch of the federal government to redefine marriage away from its millennia-old assertion that a union is of one man and one woman. But the Supreme Court has just sanctioned these federal power grabs adding both to an already frightening accumulation of federal dominance.

Thomas Jefferson commented on this kind of possibility when he wrote:

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government [branch] upon another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

It is hardly an excess to conclude that these two power grabs are not alone, and that all government is being “drawn to Washington.”

Our nation’s third President looked ahead and worried about such an accumulation of power by the federal courts. In 1821, twelve years after he left the Presidency, Jefferson wrote:

It has long been my opinion … that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary … working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.

When Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act (that’s the official name for ObamaCare), its text stated that tax credit subsidies were to be given to people living where a marketplace for the insurance, called an exchange, had been “established by the state.” Some sharp eyes noted that the federal government, not the states, was already operating the sites where people could sign up. In other words, the feds were breaking the law that clearly said these exchanges were to be state-run. A suit, known as King v. Burwell, went all the way to the Supreme Court. Legal scholars felt correctly that a victory for the plaintiffs would wreck ObamaCare. Fans of federal involvement in the medical industry knew that something had to be done.

And it was done – in a way that even Mr. Jefferson himself would likely not have ever imagined. The Court ruled 6 to 3 in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts that those who created the law didn’t mean what they had stated, and that “established by the state” didn’t mean that the exchanges (the insurance marketplaces) had to be under state jurisdiction.

What happened here is a continuation of revolutionary court action: the Supreme Court actually re-wrote the law. Justice Scalia’s dissent noted that the words “by the state” were removed from the law “seven times.” The Supreme Court has no authorization to make law because the Constitution’s very first sentence states, “All legislative powers … shall be vested in Congress….” In effect, the current Supreme Court has changed the Constitution’s word “all” to mean “some, if we think it’s necessary.” It has no authority to do so.

So what should be done? States should continue to nullify this clearly unconstitutional law. More and more Americans are clamoring for the states to stand up to the feds. State legislators should oblige them. Our newest video on nullification demonstrates how nullification works and why it works well.

Also, the Constitution, that still stands and to which each Supreme Court justice and each member of Congress still swears a solemn oath to honor, deals with a potentially rogue court in Article III, Section 2. It states: “… the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction … with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”

In other words, the Congress that has just been insulted by the Supreme Court’s arrogance in rewriting its law can pass a measure barring the Supreme Court from having anything to say about the matter. If it followed this path, Thomas Jefferson would rest more easily. And so would all Americans who don’t want the federal government to control the medical profession via ObamaCare.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Alabama Chief Justice Defiant Over Same-Sex Rulings

Alabama Chief Justice Defiant Over Same-Sex Rulings
by JBS President John F. McManus

For many years, a monument depicting the Ten Commandments was prominently situated in Alabama’s main judicial building. In 2000, the state’s chief justice, Judge Roy Moore, balked at being told by federal officials that its presence in such a public place violated the U.S. Constitution and had to go. Moore fought that demand and lost. He was then removed from his post and the monument came down.

In 2006, with threats against the institution of marriage developing throughout the nation, Alabama’s voters overwhelmingly (more that 80 percent) chose to amend their state’s constitution in order to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Then in 2012, voters put Moore back into the post he previously held.

The truly popular chief justice is back in the news. Moore just sent a letter to Governor Robert Bentley urging defiance of “judicial tyranny.” He specifically asked the governor and other state officials to ignore a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Grenade stating that the definition of marriage in Alabama had to conform to recent federal rulings recognizing same-sex marriage. Moore stated in his letter to Bentley, “As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage.” He further pointed out that the people of Alabama had only recently amended the state’s constitution stating that marriage is a “sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman.”

Moore’s letter even cited an 1825 opinion registered by Thomas Jefferson regarding nullification of unconstitutional federal mandates, a stand he will stand by. States, said Jefferson, could refuse to comply with unjust and unconstitutional federal dictates. Moore also pointed to the Tenth Amendment and its clear affirmation that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” remain with the states and the people – and no such delegation of power had ever been made. Governor Bentley issued a statement supporting Judge Moore’s call for defiance.

Defenders of traditional marriage may indeed salute Judge Moore. But the attack on the institution of marriage continues. Federal courts have already sanctioned same-sex marriage in 21 states and pressure from the homosexual lobby continues to grow. In no other state has Moore’s style of resistance been adopted. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the matter this year. Judge Moore’s expression of defiance may well be tested again.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Stop Legalizing Same Sex Marriage!

Stop Legalizing Same Sex Marriage!
by JBS President John F. McManus

There are, of course, many who insist that conferring legitimacy on same-sex marriage is perfectly proper, even overdue. Permit this writer to label the idea absurd, even an attack on civilization itself.

If marriage between two men or two women is legal, even fostered by some in government, then the question ought to arise about how such a departure from previous norms became accepted. The answer is that there has been a turning away from traditional moors by the people, and the emergence of activist judges, even within the highest court in the land, who claim power to set their own rules for the conduct of fellow Americans, or who wink at the discarding of previous norms by their judicial partners.

One can only wonder what will be next. Will polygamy and polyandry be accepted? Will children be targeted? Will any sanctions against what has always been considered aberrant behavior be cast aside?

In just a few years, the nation has gone from a strict view of traditional marriage to open season on its actual meaning. With a large margin, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but the Supreme Court voided it. State after state has bowed to pressure from the homosexual lobby and given a green light to what had previously been termed abominable. Then, in October 2014, the Supreme Court turned its back on marriage by refusing to stop lower court federal judges from canceling existing state laws against the procedure.

Which brings us to the question: Is there any recourse for those who value the traditional moors that have always characterized this nation and Western civilization itself? And the answer is that there are some steps that can be taken – but only if there are enough concerned Americans who demand that leaders take them.

First, there has to be a realization that members of the judicial branch have no authorization to make law. Those who do so should be labeled “judicial activists” and barred from meddling where they have no authorization.

Second, the Constitution’s Article III, Section 1 grants Congress power to abolish federal district courts (called “inferior Courts”) and to remove from office any judges who do not adhere to “good behavior.” Judicial activism is a prime example of bad behavior.

Third, The Constitution’s Article III, Section 2 grants Congress power to limit the court’s jurisdiction over whatever topics it chooses. Congress could have forbidden the federal courts from having anything to say about abortion. In like manner, Congress has the power to tell the Supreme Court and all federal courts that they have no say in marriage.

Will Congress use its constitutional powers to reverse the advances that threaten to overturn the moral base of the great experiment known as America? It’s up to U.S. citizens to push hard for members of the House and Senate to do exactly that.

In 1821, more than a decade after he had left office as President, Thomas Jefferson spoke out about usurpation of authority by the courts. He stated:

It has long, however, been my opinion … that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary …working like gravity by day and by night, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all shall be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; because when all government shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided … and will become as venal and oppressive as the government [of King George] from which we separated.

The Jeffersonian warning surely applies today.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism

An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism
By JBS President John F. McManus

As far back as 1786, Thomas Jefferson stated an elementary principle much in need of restating today. He said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.” Are any Americans being forced to finance what they abhor? They certainly are.

Labor unions extract dues amounting to approximately $8 billion annually from 11 million workers who are forced by federal law into their grasp as a condition of employment. Huge unions then spend more than a billion dollars each election cycle to finance candidates for political office who will support their big government agenda. Many workers oppose both the politicians financed by the unions and the left-wing causes that fill Big Labor’s agenda.

This process gained acceptance in 1935 with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (often referred to as the Wagner Act because its chief sponsor was New York Senator Robert Wagner). The law effectively made union membership a condition of employment wherever the union was certified as the employees’ exclusive bargaining agent. Although it was dubbed “the Magna Carta of Labor” by some, it was a gross denial of freedom. Labor unions should never have been awarded power to compel membership.

In 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act intending to correct the process of forcing workers into unions. It succeeded only partially. But it did allow states to pass what is called a “right to work” statute that voids compulsory union membership within its jurisdiction. There are currently 22 states where compelling a person to join a union as a condition of employment isn’t permitted. In the remaining 28 states, workers, many of whom don’t support labor-backed politicians and measures, are nevertheless forced via existing federal legislation to finance what they oppose.

Currently a measure sits on the Senate legislative calendar that would amend the Wagner Act and do away with the power of labor unions to compel membership. Introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), S.204 has gained 26 Senate co-sponsors (all Republicans). Prominent Democrats Harry Reid (Nev.), Charles Schumer, (N.Y.), Diane Feinstein (Calif.), are among the strongest opponents of S.204 as its passage would result in a severe drop in labor union funding of their candidacies, those of their Democratic colleagues, and the left-wing causes they and the unions favor.

No one who opposes compulsory unionism opposes labor unions per se. If workers want to form a union, they should be able to do so. But forcing anyone to join, thereby compelling them to finance the wishes of union leaders can never be considered just. S. 204 should be enacted, sent to the House for its approval, and even backed sufficiently to overcome a certain veto from the current occupant of the White House.

For more about right to work, read The New American article “Right to Work Works!” 


Nullification: A Proper Remedy To Federal Overreaching

Nullification: A Proper Remedy To Federal Overreaching
by JBS President John F. McManus

Is there any recourse when federal power exceeds its constitutional bounds? Do the people and the states have to accept whatever the federal government dictates? What can be done in the face of federal overreaching?

Image from our friends at The Tenth Amendment Center.

One generally forgotten answer to the above questions is the process known as “nullification.” It holds back federal power, even cancels any excesses federal officials (in all three branches) require of the people and the states.

Nullification involves a state formally telling the federal government that a particular measure it has handed down will not be obeyed. This isn’t anarchy; it’s common sense. It starts with the seemingly forgotten truth that the states created the federal government, not the other way around. When the states agreed to build a federal government, they didn’t give up their sovereignty. They ceded some powers to a central government and retained the rest.

The Tenth Amendment makes this point very clearly: “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.” Only the powers awarded to the federal government by the Constitution are legitimate; any overstepping of those delegated powers is illegitimate. Should the federal government exceed its properly delegated authority, a state through its legislature has the right to say, “NO!” Without such a right, states could be taken into tyranny.

In 1799, Thomas Jefferson was asked to help in composing what became known as “The Kentucky Resolutions.” Having been welcomed as the 15th state in 1792, Kentuckians wanted to define more clearly what relationship existed between themselves and the federal government. In the Kentucky Resolutions, one can read, “Resolved: That a nullification, by those sovereignties of all unauthorized acts done under the color of that instrument [the Constitution] is the rightful remedy.” Jefferson wrote that for his friends in Kentucky and they happily accepted and published it as their own thinking.

Later, in 1834, James Madison issued his “Notes on Nullification.” He stated: “…nullification of a law can … belong rightfully to a single state as one of the parties of the Constitution; the state not ceasing to avow its adherence to the Constitution.” In other words, refusing to accept the dictates of the federal government is the right – even the duty – of a state. And doing so does not in any way distance the state from the Constitution.

With both Madison who has rightly been named “the Father of the Constitution” and Jefferson on the side of nullification as a proper remedy for federal government excess, no one should deny its use in these troubling times.

Moves are underway in several states to issue decrees nullifying portions of ObamaCare – if not the entire measure. Lovers of liberty will support such moves without hesitation. And once many more Americans become aware that nullification is the proper and useful procedure available to rein in a voracious federal government, liberty will have been given a new – and much needed – boost.

For resolutions you can share with your state legislators on a variety of issues, check out our action projects at JBS.org.