The 14th Amendment – or, when is a State not a State? … with reflections on secession

14th Amendment

Text of the XIV (14th) Amendment to the United States Constitution:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…

(Section 1: full text is found here.)

As a review of the full text makes clear, the 14th Amendment was intended to a) penalize the States which had seceded in 1861 and defended that decision by force of arms for the next four years, and b) make it clear that any further acts of secession would not be tolerated, either. But as a friend of mine accurately points out:

Before the 14th was “passed,” the South was under martial law (itself unconstitutional). Southern states were told to “pass” this amendment if they wanted to rejoin the union.

A. If the South was not part of the union, how could it vote on a federal issue??

B. If it was part of the union, then there was no need for the jackboot methods used to control the South or martial law or provisions to become a federal state by “passing” an amendment.

C. The feds are just as sneaky today.

This is a very good point. If the states of the (surrendered) Confederacy were not in fact considered States of the Federal Union (*), how then could they vote on an amendment to the Federal Constitution? They would have no legal standing to do so. And if they were, why would they need to vote on this in order to “rejoin” the Union, of which they were already a part? You can’t have it both ways, logically; yet both ways is exactly how the Union – having crushed the Southern Confederacy in an un-Constitutional (see below) war, now further humiliated them upon its conclusion.

(* Leaving aside the moral issues involved with “We’re going to beat the crap out of you for leaving the Union, force you back in, then make you jump through all sorts of hoops and hurdles in order to get back in!” Anyone who thinks that is fair and just has a rather skewed view of fairness and justice, in my opinion.)

With respect to secession itself, another friend comments,

This Virginia’s ratification act of the US Constitution, [dated] 9/17/1787, which was accepted by the federal government. Read it carefully. The great Virginian and American generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and JEB Stuart certainly did. I’ll bet your high school history teacher didn’t, and I’m very sure your local neighborhood Antifa hooligans haven’t either.

We the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the general assembly, and now met in convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby, remains with them and at their will; and therefore no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by the congress, by the senate or house of representatives acting in any capacity, by the president or any department, or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the constitution for those purposes; and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.

With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the Searcher of Hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under the conviction that whatsoever imperfections may exist in the constitution ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into danger by delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments, previous to the ratification: We the said delegates, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, do by these presents assent to and ratify the constitution recommended on the 17th day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, by the Federal Convention, for the government of the United States; hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said constitution is binding upon the said people, according to an authentic copy hereto annexed.

It seems pretty clear from the text above that Virginia specifically retained, in its ratification documents, a stipulation that the Commonwealth (of Virginia, often called “the Old Dominion” due to its status as the first English settlement / colony in North America) retained the right to secede from the Federal Union should the latter cease to act in the best interests of the said Commonwealth: “the powers granted under the constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.”

And by implication, not just the Commonwealth, but everyone in the United States: “being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them.” It’s rather hard to read this in any other way, without a perversion of language, logic, or both! And the fact that this ratification document was in fact accepted by the US Government seems to indicate pretty clearly that the entire document was accepted, including the reservation in favor of secession. Again, as I pointed out above, you can’t logically have it both ways; yet both ways is exactly how the Federal government has insisted on having it, since 1861!

Interestingly, the South was not alone in invoking secession; New England nearly seceded over the War of 1812, and there were secessionist rumblings in that region again during the Mexican War and the acquisitions of land in the Southwest that followed. One wonders whether Federal troops would have been sent North rather than South, had history taken a different turn! But at any rate, it is clear that secession as a remedy for out-of-control Federal assumption of power is not and was not unique to the South, and indeed was considered pretty generally to be a valid remedy, prior to 1865.

When is a State not a State? And does might, in fact, make right? These are questions which are as much worth pondering in the 21st century as they were in the 19th.

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On recognizing the REAL threat to our culture and institutions (hint: it’s not the Right)

A tale of two rallies.jpg

A dear Facebook friend of mine accurately and perceptively posted the following, this morning:

I am constantly being told we need to find common ground and meet in the middle to deal with the alt left and alt right. I just made this reply on a comment on my timeline:

Well, I am not personally concerned with the so-called alt right. I believe that’s all smoke and mirrors meant to pull our focus away from the extreme leftist agenda. Suddenly, everyone is screeching about alt right, kkk, neo nazi, white supremacists… when was the last time you recall a bunch of skinheads pillaging, vandalizing, attacking cops, defacing property, throwing bottles filled with cement at folks and shooting people with paint guns? There is a BIG difference in exercising [our] first amendment right to speech, even if it’s racist in nature and I disagree with it, and being a violent mob that tries to stop free speech and peaceful assembly as well as demand the destruction and removal of anything “offensive.”

There is no middle ground there for me. I will stand by anyone’s constitutional right to express views, contrary to mine or not. I will not even attempt to compromise on the issue of violence and lawlessness. I don’t see how I can find middle ground with folks whose main agenda is the destruction of my nation and my freedom.

Needless to say, I agree completely. Some things should not be compromised on, period, ever. There are radical rightists, of course. Some of them are pictured (if they are authentic, and not planted agents provocateurs) in the top image, above. But they are small potatoes indeed, compared with the large, well-funded, media-savvy, and politically well-connected radical Left, who are actively attempting to destroy not only our historical and cultural heritage, but the very fabric of American society.

Besides, the problem with “finding middle ground” is that the “middle ground” keeps shifting. I saw this with the struggles in the Episcopal Church, back in the 1990s (and later): OK, so you agree to “middle ground.” Well, guess what? You now have 50% of what you once had. And you’ve been pegged as being “willing to compromise.” So then they come back and want to “compromise”… again. If you agree, you’re down to 25%. Then 12.5%. And so on… Nope. Sooner or later, we’ve got to take a stand. Better to do it sooner, while there’s enough ground left to stand on!

It’s one thing to compromise on whether to play checkers or chess, whether to go out or stay in tonight, or even which neighborhood to live in. It’s another thing entirely to compromise on issues like freedom of speech and assembly – and the right to exercise these rights freely, without being broken up by violent assault – or the protection of history and heritage. On these issues, in my opinion, there can be no compromise.

Either one supports the inalienable rights given to us by God and enumerated in the Constitution, or one does not. Either one believes that history should be preserved, even the parts of it which one finds problematic, or one does not. There is no “middle ground.”

Some will attempt to use the Biblical imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself” to justify the actions of the iconoclasts and the barbarians. But a foolish or misplaced compassion is not truly compassion at all. God is a God of truth, as well as a God of love, and a love which is grounded in falsehood is founded on shifting sand and will not long endure. And much of what is going on today is rooted in ignorance of our nation’s history (and the world’s), or worse yet, an unwillingness to even seek the truth.

And this willful ignorance is leading, in too many cases, to violence. Violence against human persons, violence against historical imagery (the difference between Antifa and ISIS has more to do with geography than principle), and violence against the truths of history. As another friend has put it, “it is Kristallnacht in the U.S.” A long, slow-motion Kristallnacht, but I agree. And it is not coming from neo-Nazis or the KKK, but the Left.

When they destroy statues with impunity, can burning books – or, these days, electronically altering them – be far behind? And then, can it be long before they come for us?

As my dear friend so aptly put it:

There is no middle ground there for me. I will stand by anyone’s constitutional right to express views, contrary to mine or not. I will not even attempt to compromise on the issue of violence and lawlessness. I don’t see how I can find middle ground with folks whose main agenda is the destruction of my nation and my freedom.

I stand with her.

Huckabee calls for repeal of 17th Amendment after healthcare failure | TheHill

Source: Huckabee calls for repeal of 17th Amendment after healthcare failure | TheHill

I am ambivalent about the repeal of Obamacare, as there are positives to that program as well as negatives, and there is no preferable alternative in the pipeline.

But I am in favor of Governor Huckabee’s proposal.

The 17th Amendment was the last nail in the coffin of States Rights, and arguably of the Constitutional, representative Republic our Founders set up. Those Founders intended the election of Senators by States to be one of their carefully crafted network of checks and balances; it was intended to help States keep a reign on the Federal government. That ended in 1913. It’s been all about the Federal government and the individual – or even more usually, the interest group – ever since!

I’m not going to hold my breath for the 17th Amendment to be repealed, but I’d like to see it happen.

GAH!!! The stupid – it burrrrrns!

Source: Idiot Liberal Proves She Knows NOTHING About US History In Embarrassing Post

This is the level of arrogance and idiocy we’re dealing with, folks. In case you hadn’t already realized it, we have an uphill battle to fight. I’m reminded of the late Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork’s phrase: the “vertical invasion of the barbarians” – meaning that the worst “invasion” we have to face is not external, but from arrogant idiots and ignoramuses from without our own nation(s) and culture(s). Sadly, that invasion is not only underway, but well-advanced…

Confession 2017 — Bernie Sanders’ Christophobia | The American Spectator

I am a Jew. All of my ancestors have been Jews since Judaism was founded almost 6,000 years ago on the belief of a monotheistic God. I pray in Hebrew every morning and every night. And I am deeply, cruelly, painfully embarrassed at my fellow Jew, Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont…

Source: Confession 2017 — Bernie Sanders’ Christophobia | The American Spectator

There was a time when I kinda liked Bernie, I must confess. But those days are increasingly coming to seem like “a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

Commentator Ben Stein writes, inter alia,

Christianity, here in America, which has been such a great friend of us Jews, is far too powerful to be taken down by one angry Vermonter. But I am scared that as a nation, we among the political and media self-selected elite, so strongly blast “Islamophobia” but do not hear the onrushing sounds of Christophobia throughout the world and especially here at home.

Thank you, sir. Needless to say, I agree!

On a related note, Tim Count writes in “An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor,”

Your [Senator Sanders’] actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country…  Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” …

As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of [Old First Church in Bennington, VT] would have been shocked at your statements, as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys. Continue reading “Confession 2017 — Bernie Sanders’ Christophobia | The American Spectator”

The prescient wisdom of Robert E. Lee

General Lee - portrait photograph

“I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, is not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”

~ Robert E. Lee in correspondence with Lord Acton

As “Marse Robert” accurately perceived, our Founders carefully set up a detailed and intricate system of “checks and balances” to preserve our Constitutional liberties, and our status as not a pure democracy, but a representative Republic.

And that included not only a balance of power between and among the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), but between the Federal government and the States. Indeed, it it worth noting that the Preamble to the Constitution speaks of the establishment of a Constitution “for these United States.” Note that: “for these” States, as distinct, sovereign entities, not “for the” single entity called “the United States.” That is not accidental, or an infelicitous choice of words!

Unfortunately, since our Founding, the corruption that comes with the desire for power has been leading the Federal government to constantly accrue powers to itself, against the clear directive of the Constitution: “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” (the Tenth Amendment).

President Lincoln’s determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of the Constitution – against which Lee, at the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, so ably but ultimately unsuccessfully contended – was a body-blow to the Founders’ intentions, and the pace of Federal usurpation has been accelerating ever since. For many of us, “aggressive abroad and despotic at home” is not too strong an expression of the unfortunate result.

8 reasons constitutional monarchy is the best form of government • The Crown Chronicles

Many people say that having a Monarch as Head of State is good for tourism, but not much else. But, hang on, aren’t Monarchies cheaper than Presidencies? Yes.  And doesn’t having a King or Queen ensure that there cannot be a dictatorship? Yes!  So why is monarchy good? Here are 8 reasons why constitutional monarchy is the best form of government…

Source: 8 reasons constitutional monarchy is the best form of government • The Crown Chronicles

Can’t argue with anything here! An excellent essay, entirely. 🙂

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N.B. The article notes,

“While a number of examples relate specifically to the British Monarchy, most of these reasons are applicable to the other Monarchies of the world, and we have tried to include some broader examples and statistics.”