Skip to comments.Don't repeat this history [Cokie Roberts and Civil War]
Posted on 04/12/2010 12:13:20 PM PDT by Plutarch
CHARLESTON, S.C. Looking out from the harbor here, it's easy to imagine a mortar lighting up the night sky as it hurtled toward Fort Sumter and signaled the start of the Civil War. It's also easy, standing inside the walls of the island garrison, to view today's nullification battle over health care less as a frivolous political game and more as a serious threat to the Constitution.
"The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault on Fort Sumter," mourned President Abraham Lincoln. Painted on the wall of the fort's small museum, those words remind us that the war was the final act in the unraveling of the union. The disintegration began here in South Carolina as well, with the state's declaration almost 30 years earlier that federal tariff laws were "unauthorized by the Constitution ... and are null, void and ... not binding on this state."
That states' rights sentiment is with us again. The attorneys general of 14 states have filed suit challenging the health care law because, they argue, the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to require the purchase of health insurance. Virginia, acting in direct defiance of federal law, passed a measure making mandated health insurance illegal.
To critics who say this is just political gamesmanship by Republican AGs (plus a Louisiana Democrat who claims he's doing the bidding of the Republican governor), the states' chief law-enforcement officers insist they're following in a tradition dating back to the Founding Fathers themselves. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, they remind us, wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions challenging the Alien and Sedition Acts as an assumption of "undelegated powers" by the federal government. The 1798 resolutions termed the laws "unauthoritative, void and of no force."
It's a familiar argument to anyone who lived through the civil-rights era in the American South when Jefferson and Madison were hauled out regularly as champions of states' rights. The memory of that struggle remains fresh in Arkansas, where the attorney general has resisted pressure to join the nullifiers, sharing Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's view that "They tried it here in Arkansas in '57, and it didn't work." That year, President Dwight Eisenhower sent in federal troops to enforce school integration, deeming the Supreme Court's school-desegregation decision "the law of the land."
Recalling his state's history, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel bluntly concludes: "A state deciding that it wants to singularly defy federal law simply because the citizens may not like it that's not the way the democratic process works. That's not the way the Constitution is set up."
In the 1950s, it was the Supreme Court, not the Congress, that then-Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus took on by his insistence that "neither the state of Arkansas nor its people delegated to the federal government ... the power to regulate or control the operation of the domestic institutions of Arkansas."
And it's the Supreme Court that is likely to have the final say on this current challenge to federal authority. Most legal experts agree that the justices will probably uphold the health care law under the clause of the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce. But the currently constituted court could come to a different conclusion, and the defenders of states' rights could once again, as they did in the days before the Civil War, find a judicial branch sympathetic to their views.
It's hard to imagine what would happen politically if the Supreme Court sided with some states against Congress. The already severely frayed fabric of government would certainly be further torn apart. It's far better to leave the health care debate in the arena of electoral politics and for the losers to accept defeat. That's the essence of democracy.
It's an election, after all, that defused that first challenge to federal authority. Jefferson won the presidency and simply allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to expire. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions became irrelevant until the South Carolina nullification declaration when John Calhoun invoked them as precedent for his actions. But Madison was still around to dispute Calhoun, calling the South Carolinian's attempt to defy the law "anarchical," adding that it would have "the effect of putting powder under the Constitution & Union, and a match in the hand of every party, to blow them up at pleasure."
Which, of course, is exactly what happened 30 years later here at Fort Sumter. It's not a history any American wants to repeat.
Cokie Roberts once hosted a prime time special on the positive effect of Ted Turner being the next President and Jane Fonda the next first lady.
I’m surprised there was not a class action law suit against her and her network for the pain and suffering that followed via a mass barf attack.
If they can make me buy the government approved Health Insurance I don't want, they can make me buy government approved undies at K-Mart. And we all know that K-MART SUCKS!
0bamaCare is about who owns whom. Do we own the government, or does the government own us? If they can dictate how we spend all our money, they own us.
That's enough for a revolution.
“Cokie” Robert*s father Hale Boggs, as House Democrat Leader, signed the Southern Manifesto and opposed civil rights for blacks.
He soon “disappeared” - never again to play corrupt Louisiana political games.....
Amusing how democrats that suddenly become multi-millionaires in Congress love to use US taxpayers money to fund their elitist Socialist dreams, agendas, scams, and extortion schemes.
- In the proud tradition of Obama campaign contributor Bernard Hussein Maddoff - who daily strolled Manhattan sidewalks while under “Penthouse Arrest”
The first thing you should ask to preface any question to any elected official should be:
“How do you see our relationship - do you answer to me, or me to you? We’ll proceed from there.”
By not allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, 0bummerCare specifically excludes this aspect of the commerce clause from applying. Insurance is a purely Intra-State economic transaction.
Strong it is, the Kool-Aid in this one.
Wow, Kookie is really proving her name is well earned.
What she has written is wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.
A democracy - err, no, we are not and I hope we never are.
If Texas was joining a suicide pack, I wish they would have told us upfront when the contract was signed instead to claiming it is 160 years later - what did they use, invisible ink for that clause?
Trying to follow (I can’t) Kookie’s lack of logic would mean if Mussolini comes to power in the US, disbands Congress and the Supreme court - we’re just suppose to shrug our shoulders and “ok, guess we lost, which way to the gas chamber?” What a moron she is.
Kookie really has no earthly idea why their is an America, how it is formed, why it was special, and why people sacrificed their lives to protect it.
It is because of these kinds of wack jobs that I have lost faith in some of the geography of the North America and want a divorce. Even if we leave this marriage broke, we’d be free back on our feet in no time at all.
HAD a Constitutional Republic...I doubt we do anymore.
I cringe when I hear people wallowing about 'democracy'...like it's some sacred religion that all must abide with.
We've degenerated into a 'democracy' over time...with allowing voters to popularly elect Senators, and allowing anyone over the age of 18 to vote, regardless of their contribution to the cost of government.
"That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compactas no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties thereto have the right and are in duty bound to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them.
That’s really clear -
“limited by the plain sense and intention”,
“no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated”...
Of course, the left, inherent in their worldview, looks at anything written in the past, be it law, agreement, or constitution, as being inferior to the “articulated knowledge” of their elected elites.
There was a time The Won was trying to compare himself to Lincoln.
Many here observed that was not a good sign.
The states properly and legally petitioning the courts for redress is part of federalism. Cokie is a fascist idiot. She’d more likely fit into 1930’s Germany and stand around and scream “Seig heil!”
Abandon the Constitution to save it?... http://texas.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2010/04/abandon-the-constitution-to-save-it/
Heads they win, tails we lose?
And no one would ever dare to bring what her father did up to her. Twouldn’t be ‘nice’.....
We're throwing mortars at them now?
Not to point out the obvious, but he has, and she is.
Another question would be: "Cokie, assuming for the sack of argument that your ludicrous, moronic read of the Constitution is correct, then given the fact that the Feds have run roughshod over so much of it for so long, how can you object if the states retaliate by doing the same thing now?"
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