Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bush v. America

In an interesting twist, the Federal Department of Fatherland Security is suing a political sub-unit because they wish to exert their independence from Imperial Fiat on a certain matter.

U.S. Sues Illinois For Defying Immigration Law

There are a couple of interesting issues this raises. The first is that this calls to mind the Jeffersonian principle of “States Rights”, and the power for individual States to nullify federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional. First expressed in The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 , these principles played out in American politics on a variety of issues from central banking and the enforcement of fugitive slave laws throughout the early years of the American Republic. Of course, in 1865, the idea that the power of individual States was to serve as an additional “check and balance” on the power of the Federal government was finally squashed by force of arms. But before then, when our government was still a Republic, these principles were central to the concept of Federalism, upon which the entire structure of U.S. government was built.

Prior to this smashing of State autonomy, however, many States sought to stave off the Federal Leviathan by asserting their independence in such a manner. Ohio, for example, helped to cripple early incarnations of a central bank by levying massive taxes on the bank’s branches, even sending troops to collect the tax right from the vault. (Talk about armed robbery!!) Wisconsin (as well as other northern states with more abolitionist leanings) refused to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Act which demanded that the States help return runaway slaves back to the their southern masters. A strong case can be made that the principle of nullification helped speed up the downfall of slavery – an economically untenable system which required massive State intervention, federal intervention no less, to help prop it up. And its more than ironic that many people still insist that a war was needed to end slavery, lest the seceding states be enabled to practice slavery forever and ever.

But I digress.

So Illinois wishes to flip the bird to Federal dictates about what sort of people businesses can be “allowed” to hire. (Since when is freedom of association dependent upon getting permission from government to exercise?) The Feds don’t like it, and they wish to bitch-slap these punks into line, and so they sue. On what grounds do they claim this authority?

Keep in mind, the U.S. Constitution says absolutley nothing about Federal authority to regulate where people can live, work, play, study, think, learn, etc. – ie. immigration. The Constitution does grant the Feds the authority to set the terms and conditions for acquiring citizenship, but that is a completely different thing than immigration. Someone can move here to live and work, and not seek the benefits of citizenship (such as the ability to vote). So where does the Fed get this authority to tell businesses who then must and must not hire? Per the 10th Amendment, powers not expressly delegated to the Feds by the Constitution are denied to it.

The Anti-Immigrant crowd, no doubt, is cheering on Big Government in this case, which is not surprising. They may claim, “Oh! So we should protect the ‘rights’ of half a million law-breakers??”, without first asking whether the “law” being broken is itself a violation of natural, moral law. Is it moral to tell Person A that he must not be allowed to associate with Person B, simply because Persons C, D, and E wish to prevent that from happening? Does morality give way to legislation? Can Congress rewrite the laws of universal justice simply by voting on it?

But in a structural sense, their argument in this case, flies in the face of the Constitution, and the concept of Federalism, upon which this government was founded. The Anti-Immigrant crowd, by claiming to love America and wishes nothing more than to “protect it”, is actually serving to undermine not only the written law of the land, but the spirit and intention under which it was established. The Anti-Immigrant crowd, in short, wishes nothing less than to overturn America.

So in this case, Big Government Loving, Unified Nationalist State types will be joined by the Anti-Immigrant crowd…a natural alliance if ever there were one. We liberty lovers, as much as we despise the State, can only root for the political sub-unit called Illinois in this battle, and hope that the power of the Imperial Federal Government is beaten back an inch or two.

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