What is my duty as a Legislator?

 When an individual enters the Legislature of a state, that person takes an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and of the State of  (my state).”  It is as solemn and sacred a pledge as a human being can give and is a covenant binding that person with all those who have gone before, beginning with colonial America.

Those who served in the legislatures of the British colonies are the people who were responsible for leading our forefathers out of tyranny into our Republic.  A miracle system that venerates, and for the first time in history protects, individual freedom.  Those people were the ones that cried out for our “inalienable God given rights.”  It was in the Virginia Legislature, the House of Burgesses, that Patrick Henry immortally said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Our “Bill of Rights” came a large part from that same Virginia Assembly, which in its wisdom sent a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress, a brilliant young legislator.  That delegate, Thomas Jefferson, who using as his guide the recently enacted “Virginia Rights of Man” wrote one of the greatest documents of all history, the American Declaration of Independence.

It was those same Legislatures of the Colonies that sent their very best emissaries to the Continental Congress which conducted the affairs of the war that won us our independence.  Those Legislatures, after we gained our independence, again sent their very best to Philadelphia to write the Constitution of the United States of America.  And when it was written, it was the Legislatures that provided for its adoption.

Many, if not most, who have taken the oath, have not reflected deeply upon what its obligations are.  However, it is obvious that there is no obligation to “protect and defend” unauthorized laws.  Constitutionally unauthorized laws are no law at all.

Most of us are not aware that many of the most prominent Revolutionary leaders were very fearful of the new Constitution when it was being considered for ratification.  They felt that the document did not overtly protect those “inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator” nor did it give due deference to its creator, the States.  Great Revolutionary patriots like Patrick Henry, George Clinton, Melancton Smith, George Mason and Henry Lee openly and stridently opposed the writers of the “Federalist Papers,” James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay because they were proposing (although they, for the most part denied it) a superior government that could and probably would present a tyranny over the States and ultimately the People not unlike that that the Revolution had so recently overthrown. 

The vote on the adoption of the Constitution by the States was a narrowly run thing, it being adopted by miniscule majorities in many states … and only then after the Federalists promised their opposition that the first order of business of the new government would be to adopt a “Bill of Rights” that guaranteed the status of the States and the inalienable rights of the people that already existed in the Constitutions of many of the States.  With those assurances, the Constitution was adopted.

The “Bill of Rights” consists of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.  We are all familiar with the rights of free speech, press and religion and the right to bear arms.  We, for the most part, have never given any thought to quartering troops in our houses and we are all aware of the freedoms of the individual when standing before the law and courts that are guaranteed in the 4th through the 8th Amendments.  The unarticulated rights of man protected by the 9th Amendment have never been truly tested or vetted.  And the Federal government has never attempted to enforce the 10th Amendment.  Nevertheless our government under the Constitution of the United States of America would be, I believe, unthinkable without the “Bill of Rights” that the “Anti-Federalist” patriots fought so hard for.  And don’t forget that the Founders held that all the ten amendments in the “Bill of Rights” to be fundamental to the protection of our Freedoms.

Most of us who have made a limited study of the application of the US government can cite many of the advantages given our great Republic by the “Bill”, but in my experience and acquaintance with state government there is a continual complaint … why does the Federal government ignore the 10th  Amendment?

Consider why!  None of the three branches of the Federal government has any interest in policing laws that favor the States … any consideration of the States opposes the powers of one, two or all three of the branches of the Federal government.  The prima-facie truth is that the 10th Amendment provides the Constitutional vehicle for the States to oppose and refuse un-Constitutional actions by the Federal government.  It provides that any law (or court decision interpreting a law) that is not specifically authorized in the Constitution is no law at all.  The States have full Constitutional power and sanction to ignore and refuse to enforce such epistles from the President, Congress or the Supreme Court.  State Legislatures are fully authorized by the Constitution to not only to disregard such illegal attempts, but to provide penalties for attempts to do so.

Much devilment of the States has been provided by Supreme Court decisions that find “hidden intent” in the plain language of the Constitution.  Where in the Constitution is there a clause that says that the Federal Courts can determine the make-up and apportionment of state legislatures when the plain wording in the Constitution guarantees the States a Republican form of government?  How does the Federal government gain the right to pass any law whatsoever that it wishes because the Supreme Court in Wickard v. Filburn found that a pig eaten by a farmer, grown by the farmer, fed wheat grown by the farmer, none of which ever left his farm was in interstate commerce?  These decisions and the States sycophantic adherence to them were the precursors to the fulminating federal tyranny now descending upon us.

There are precedents as to how to proceed.  One being that when the Statists of the early Republic attempted to impose the tyranny of the “Alien and Sedition Laws” upon the populace and the States and the Supreme Court upheld them, great champions of freedom, no less than Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, proposed “nullification” by the States.  Their efforts resulted in the laws being repealed.

Yes, as a legislator your duty is to represent, protect and advance the views of your constituents to the state gathering for the benefit of all.  But another duty … a higher duty is to protect the people of your state from tyranny … from whatever quarter it comes.  The 10th Amendment of the precious “Bill of Rights” demands that you stand up to the statists in the Federal government.

Where in the Constitution does it say that this state is inferior to the EPA; or the Fish and Wildlife Service; or the Department of Labor; or the Department of Education or any other bureau?  The answer is that it does not … none of the rules, edicts, mandates, coercions, regulations or other demands are legally authorized in the Constitution.

If we, in the legislature do not stand against this descending tyranny, then tyranny we will have… 


The Legislature is duty bound for the protection of our freedoms to inspect and then reject all actions from the Federal government that do not conform to the 17 actions authorized to the Federal government under the Constitution.  The 10th Amendment protects us from Federal tyranny and demands our protective vigilance.  There would have been no Constitution without the 10th Amendment.

The only powers specifically given to Congress appear in Article I Section 8, and are the following:

  • To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
  • To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
  • To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
  • To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
  • To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
  • To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
  • To establish post offices and post roads;
  • To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
  • To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
  • To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
  • To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
  • To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
  • To provide and maintain a navy;
  • To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
  • To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
  • To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
  • To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles (16 km) square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.

Only these powers were given under the original Constitution and the only subsequent powers are those necessary to enforce several amendments.

Remember, the 10th Amendment gives Congress only the right to make laws that are specifically authorized … all other laws not specifically denied to the States are reserved to the States or the People.

This entry was posted in Lee's Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What is my duty as a Legislator?

  1. Maurice Clements says:

    Well done, Lee. Why don’t you consider sending this to all legislators in Idaho.
    Some will read it and you may get some interesting comments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.