does not appear to hold much hope for its success. “Cougressnwill not fix this problem,” writes Governor L.eavitt. “Congressnhas every incentive to continue the trend toward centralization,nand the federal bureaucracy has even more. And we cannot dependnon the courts. Over the last 60 years, the federal courtsnhave generally not been friendly to states in their disputes withnthe federal government.” Governor Leavitt insists that thenGonference of States remain scrupulously bipartisan and sticknto the single issue—restoring state sovereignty—not gettingncaught up in gun control, abortion, school prayer, or whatever.nThe conference will ask each state to send five delegates tonthe conference, four of them legislators, two from each partynand two from each house. The fifth delegate will be the governor.nThe 250 delegates will then produce a “States Petition”nconsisting of specific amendments to the Gonstitution thatnshift the balance of power in the direction of the states. For example,nan amendment allowing the states to initiate constitutionalnamendments and to “sunset” any law made by the nationalngovernment not dealing with defense and foreign affairsnhas been suggested by at least one group. The delegates wouldntake the States Petition back to their respective state houses fornratification. They then would “ask” Gongress to pass thenamendments as written and send them back to the states fornratification. Should Gongress refuse, or tamper with thenamendments, the threat of convening an unlimited ConstitutionalnConvention which could dissolve the union would probablynbecome a reality.nThe iVIontana Shooting Sports Association (P.O. Box 4924,nMissoula, Montana 59806) proposes a somewhat more directnsolution to the problem of silly laws generated by the government;nit proposes the “s” word, secession from the union.nTimed to coincide with President Clinton’s signing of thenGrime Bill, the MSSA announced its Freedom hiitiative.n”When Montana agreed to become a state, there was a basicnpresumption that the peo]3le of Montana would always be protectednfrom the federal government by the Bill of Rights,” saysnMSSA President Gary Marbut. “Congress has abridged thatnpresumption, and thereby nullified Montana’s contract withntlie other states. Therefore we have no further legal obligationnto maintain the Compact with tl:e United States. . . . Therenmay be some debate about what the Second Amendmentnmeans to the Supreme Court or the people of Peoria, but therenis no question about what the Second Amendment means tonthe people of Montana. ‘The great purpose,’ as Patrick Henrynsaid, ‘is that every man be armed.’ Gongress is willing to tradenour rights for temporary political gain, but we will not submitnto this accelerating betrayal of our constitutional rights. Wenchoose to opt out.”nMontana’s constitution may be changed only by a vote ofnthe people. MSSA will begin gathering signatures in June (theneariiest date allowed by law). Assuming it is successful, it needsnonly 20,000 signatures—the Freedom hiitiative will appear onnthe Montana Ballot in November 1996, just below Clinton’snname. If enacted. Article One of the Montana Gonstitutionnwill be replaced with one that not only declares Montana to bena “free, sovereign and independent constitutional republic,”nbut also puts it on a hard money standard and fodjids the Nationnof Montana to create or allow a monopoly bank to borrownmoney. No other nation may own land within Montana, andnMontana specifically disentangles itself from American treatynobligations.nThe ideas proposed by the MSSA are unique only in theirn24/CHRONICLESnnncandor. Most of the states’ rights supporters I spoke with would,nif pressed, concede that the legal dissolution of the union ornlegal secession were legitimate options once all other legalnavenues for the restoration of constitutional federalism hadnbeen exhausted.nWhenever the subject of secession comes up, someoneninvariably says that the issue was “settled” during thenWar Between the States. While the South lost the war, it doesnnot follow that its legal position was incorrect. Joseph Stumph,nauthor of the Ultimatum Resolution and director of the Committeenof 50 States (4808 Quailbrook Circle, Salt Lake City,nUtah 84118) is one of the premier scholars on the subject, “hinessence, our federal government is the agent of all state governments,”nwrites Stumph in the Ultimatum Resolution. “Thenstates are the creator and the federal government is the creature.nIt is axiomatic, or self-evident, that the creature cannot exceednthe creator. The agent cannot exceed the authority grantednby its principle. Any attempt to do so is ultra vires, or withoutnauthority, and a usurpation of its power.” Thus, “if the federalngovernment no longer obeys the will of the states, and is continuallynin violation of the contract of agency, each state is freento withdraw its support of the federal government and select, orncreate, another agent to carry out the collective will of thenstates.”nSome might argue that although the original states were indeednsovereign nations prior to ratifying the Gonstitution, mostnstates that joined the union over the years were carved out ofnland purchased by the national government and have no suchnclaim to sovereignty. Not according to the “Equal Footing Doctrine.”nUnder Coyle v. Smith (1911), all states are on an “equalnfooting” with each other, regardless of the terms under whichnthey joined the union. Since the original states owned all thenland within their borders, the “federal land” that makes up thenbulk of the Western states became de jure property of the statenupon annexation.nAt first glance it may seem surprising that the next battle fornliberty is originating in the West. But the West was settled innlarge part by Southerners fleeing Reconstruction. The desire tonbe left alone runs in the veins of many citizens of the IntermountainnWest, as does the willingness to fight for that freedom.nNor has the spark of liberty been completely extinguishednin the South. A new organization called The SouthernnLeague (P.O. Box 40910, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35404) promisesnto rekindle the flame.n”The Jeffersonian principle that a free people may change itsngovernment if that government threatens life, liberty, and propertynis the cornerstone of our political tradition. Since the presentncentral government has consistently violated the originalncompact of 1789, we hold that the time has come for thenSouthern people to engage in a serious discussion of politicalndivorce,” writes Professor Michael Hill, president of The SouthernnLeague, in the inaugural issue of the Southern Patriot.n”riie Southern League does not advocate the overthrow of thenUnited States government; on the contrary, we wish simply thatnSoutherners in their states be left alone to run their own affairsnwith the independence they enjoyed under the Gonstitutionnof 1787.” What people are saying all over the West and Southnis simply this: either the Gonstitution can and will be restorednor the people in the separate states will be morally, politically,nand legally free to pursue their own destinies.n<5>n