Miss­ing the mark

The Sentinel-Record - - VIEWPOINTS -

Dear ed­i­tor:

Let­ter writer David Welch to­tally missed the mark by insin­u­at­ing the Alien and Sedi­tion Acts of 1798 and the Smith Act of 1940 in­cludes the or­di­nance of se­ces­sion, which they clearly do not. The Alien and Sedi­tion Acts were highly tyran­ni­cal in na­ture and ba­si­cally gave the fed­eral gov­ern­ment full au­thor­ity to ar­rest and jail cit­i­zens for say­ing or print­ing defam­a­tory re­marks con­cern­ing fed­eral of­fi­cials, which was a di­rect vi­o­la­tion of the First Amend­ment. Th­ese in­fa­mous acts also ex­pe­dited Thomas Jef­fer­son and James Madi­son to au­thor the Vir­ginia and Ken­tucky res­o­lu­tions, which in essence stated that when­ever the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as­sumes un­del­e­gated pow­ers, its acts are unau­thor­i­ta­tive, void and of no force. The Alien and Sedi­tion Acts were even­tu­ally re­pealed, be­gin­ning in 1801 un­der then Pres­i­dent Thomas Jef­fer­son.

The Smith Act of 1940, on the other hand, ba­si­cally tar­geted com­mu­nists, an­ar­chists and fas­cists who were in­deed covertly de­sir­ing to over­throw the U.S. gov­ern­ment. This law had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with se­ces­sion, which is ba­si­cally a po­lit­i­cal di­vorce. The or­di­nance of se­ces­sion is nei­ther re­bel­lion or in­sur­rec­tion, does not ad­vo­cate the over­throw of an ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment, and most cer­tainly is not an act or dec­la­ra­tion of war. It is merely a civil process that has no nec­es­sary con­nec­tion with war and is based upon two is­sues: the nat­u­ral right of self-gov­ern­ment and is a re­served power to the sev­eral states per the 10th Amend­ment, mean­ing they pos­sessed this power both be­fore and af­ter the Con­sti­tu­tion’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion in 1788.

Prior to 1787, when the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion was first pro­posed, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, as we know it, did not ex­ist. The states were in every re­spect sov­er­eign na­tions and were gov­erned by their re­spec­tive state con­sti­tu­tions. Even­tu­ally, those na­tions agreed to cre­ate a fed­eral gov­ern­ment, which would be their agent by affording it spe­cific and lim­ited del­e­gated pow­ers.

Even though se­ces­sion was com­monly un­der­stood to be per­fectly le­gal, the 10th Amend­ment was added in 1791 to draw a line in the sand, which as­cer­tained un­mis­tak­ably the pow­ers that were to be granted to this newly cre­ated fed­eral gov­ern­ment and those that were to be re­served by the states. There­fore, the act of se­ces­sion was clearly not del­e­gated to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment un­der Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8 and was not pro­hib­ited to the states un­der Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 10, which means it was specif­i­cally re­served to the states (na­tions).

Un­til this power is pro­hib­ited to the states by “the Leg­is­la­tures of three fourths of the sev­eral States, or by Con­ven­tions in three fourths thereof” as re­quired in Ar­ti­cle V, se­ces­sion re­mains as le­gal to­day as it was in 1776, 1787 and 1861. Loy Mauch Bis­marck

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