The Tenth Amendment is alive and well in Ohio. On June 28, right before the state legislature recessed, Representative Michael Wise and Senator Grace Drake introduced into the Ohio General Assembly “House Concurrent Resolution No. 44” with 27 house cosponsors and 3 senate cosponsors. The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Economic Affairs and Federal Relations, where it sits until committee members return and schedule hearings. My representative reports that our legislature will not reconvene for any significant period of time until after January.

Our organization, We the People, is a loose network of people interested in constitutional issues, and we are busily building a network of allies who are sick of seeing our liberty chipped away by federal mandate. We are meeting with our representatives and taking note of their voting records and stands on constitutional issues. We, together with organizations like United We Stand, The Christian Coalition, garden clubs, cafeteria meeting groups, and with any interested individuals we can find, will make sure our governor, state representatives, state senators, state attorney general, even county sheriffs hear our message: “Get Washington out of here! The 10th Amendment says they don’t belong here! Ohio is to be governed by Ohioans, as dictated by the Constitution!”

Our goal is a minimum of 100,000 letters. Testimony before the House Committee will come soon, followed by citizen delegations to the governor and each state representative and senator; demonstrations with the Ohio state flag proudly waved are a real possibility. The next step will be to enact implementation legislation along the lines of Colorado’s State Sovereignty Resolution, which sets up the “review” mechanism to identify which federal mandates the state will and will not obey, based on whether the mandates meet a “Constitutional Test.” This may not impress the feds, so Ohio should set up accounts through which moneys for major federal programs, such as gasoline taxes and federal license fees, must pass. Ohio will make monthly disbursements to the feds from these accounts, but only if the funds are used for purposes that the Constitution allows. Then, if the feds withhold funds from certain programs involving the state, Ohio will simply stop making monthly payments and retain the funds in the escrow account. In Colorado, the amount of money sent to the feds compared to what comes back to the state is within 2 percent.

The issue is pregnant with possibility. None of the 10th Amendment Resolutions I have read qualifies the word “mandate” with the adjective “unfunded.” The issue is not simply to stop the imposition of hidden taxes on the states and on the people. The issue is to counter and confront unconstitutional mandates that run roughshod over a state’s right to republican government under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution and an individual’s inalienable rights under the Constitution. The issue is that the checks and balances at the federal level no longer work: the three branches are, in concert, abrogating Americans’ freedoms with virtually every new law passed. It is time to shake the dust off the “forgotten amendment” and for the states to enforce it, for we are witnesses to the exact situation that the amendment was written to guard against, something we, because of our apathy, have allowed to happen.

The 10th Amendment Resolution is sweeping the country. It has passed the legislatures of Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, and California. It has passed the Senate and House of Illinois (not a joint resolution). It has passed the House of Oklahoma and of Louisiana (where it passed unanimously). It has been introduced into the general assemblies of Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey. It has sponsors in Pennsylvania, Florida, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, Connecticut, Washington, Maine, Wisconsin, and Texas who plan to introduce the resolution in upcoming sessions. Representatives from Massachusetts and Tennessee have inquired about it, and the Georgia State Chair for United We Stand America is working to have it passed there. People are networking in 49 states now (every state except Vermont), all with the intention of waking up their state legislators to the constitutional means our Founding Fathers granted us.

On August 27, the South Carolina State Libertarian Party passed a resolution about the “Crime Bill” that said “honest citizens of reason cannot abide illegal laws, designed for whatever cause, that would deny lawful citizens liberty hard won and unalienable God-given rights and provide a framework for despotism and tyranny now or in the future. Honor and duty compel us to call for the immediate repeal of this illegal act.” And in the absence of such a repeal, “we must respectfully call upon the Legislature of the sovereign State of South Carolina to issue an ultimatum stating that they will not suffer this illegal Act to be enforced within the borders of South Carolina, and, further, if agents of the Federal government attempt to enforce this illegal Act within the borders of South Carolina, it will be considered a direct violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the state will take whatever legal action is necessary to preserve its sovereignty.” The resolution then urges all citizens to join the Citizen Militia now forming in South Carolina.

Other states are acting boldly, too. Witness Governor Pete Wilson in California. The Los Angeles Times reported on August 26 that “Governor Pete Wilson has ordered his administration to defy the federal government and refuse to implement the so-called motor-voter registration law unless Congress forwards the money to pay for the new program.” The article said that “Wilson’s Finance Department estimates that it will cost the state $35.8 million annually [my emphasis] to implement the law.” They, of course, are expecting a challenge and are preparing to fight.

They, like we, now realize that the legal means to resist the statism thrust upon us are in our founding documents, in the 10th Amendment, which needs no interpretation as to what powers the states possess. The task before us is to educate our state legislators to their responsibilities to protect us from unconstitutional mandates from a federal government that wants to usurp the guarantee of republican government.