"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." -John Adams

Welcome to Patriot's Lament. We strive here to educate ourselves on Liberty. We will not worry ourselves so much with the daily antics of American politics, and drown ourselves in the murky waters of the political right or left.
Instead, we will look to the Intellectuals and Champions of Liberty, and draw on their wisdom of what it is to be a truly free people. We will learn from where our Providential Liberties are derived, and put the proper perspective of a Free Individual and the State.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Of Sovereignty and things

Sovereignty, what a buzz word. We have a national government which claims sovereignty over the states and the people, we have the states rights folks who insist the state is the sovereign entity over the federal government and the people. We have people who claim they are sovereign citizens, and create silly organizations and groups that sell "how to be a Sovereign" packets when in reality they have no clue what they are talking about.
But what is correct? What does Sovereignty even mean, and how does it affect us, or should we even care?
First, let's look up the definition of the word, and define our terms.

Sovereign: A chief ruler with supreme power; 
one possessing sovereignty. 

(q.v.) It is also applied to a king or other magistrate with
 limited powers. 

     2. In the United States the sovereignty resides in the 
body of the people. 
Well that's pretty simple. A Sovereign is one who possesses
 Supreme power.In matters of the state,
 we see the 10th amendment to the Constitution
 telling us that :
 "The powers not delegated to the United States by the
 Constitution, nor 
prohibited by it to the States, 
are reserved to the States respectively,
 or to the people. "
So as far as state matters are concerned, the national government is sovereign in all powers delegated to it within the strict confines of the Constitution. In all state matters not delegated to the national government, the powers are left to the states, and the people, and the states are the sovereign. 
But who is Supreme?
When the People cast off the British crown, they were no longer subjects, their state and federal governments were not yet formed, and each individual was the Supreme Sovereign.
When they formed their individual free states, the people simply combined their Sovereignty into a collective sovereign state. They never relinquished their Sovereignty to that state, they simply elected civil servants to wield that Sovereignty for the protection of their individual Sovereignty.
The individual states then combined themselves to form the union, or union of states. The union now had sovereignty from the states and the Constitution that the states ratified.
How then can the federal government claim Sovereignty over the states outside of the Constitution that the states ratified when they formed the union? The states form and are the union, so how can the created rule over the creator?
Or how can the state now claim to be the sovereign over its people? The People created the state, and nothing created should rule over its creator. The state is the servant of the people, which implies that the people are the masters, or Sovereign over the state. If the People create the state and are the masters of it, then the union that the states combined create is also servant to the People.
Let's see what our Founders had to say about it. Yes, you may be shocked to know that they knew how important it was that the national government, the state governments, and the People all knew where they stood in the pecking order. 

"To the Constitution of the United States the term sovereign, is totally unknown. There is but one place where it could have been used with propriety. But, even in that place it would not, perhaps, have comported with the delicacy of those, who ordained and established that Constitution. They might have announced themselves ‘sovereign’ people of the United States: But serenely conscious of the fact, they avoided the ostentatious declaration." James Wilson, Supreme Court Justice and signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The phrase "serenely conscious of the fact" denotes that the Founders knew full well that the People were Sovereign, and didn't feel the need to include it in the Constitution. It was a given.

"As a Judge of this Court, I know, and can decide upon the knowledge, that the citizens of Georgia, when they acted upon the large scale of the Union, as a part of the “People of the United States,” did not surrender the Supreme or Sovereign Power to that State; but, as to the purposes of the Union, retained it to themselves". James Wilson

"Concerning the prerogative of Kings, and concerning the sovereignty of States, much has been said and written; but little has been said and written concerning a subject much more dignified and important, the majesty of the people. The mode of expression, which I would substitute in the place of that generally used, is not only politically, but also (for between true liberty and true taste there is a close alliance) classically more correct." James Wilson

..."at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects and have none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty. First Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay

From the differences existing between feudal sovereignties and Governments founded on compacts, it necessarily follows that their respective prerogatives must differ. Sovereignty is the right to govern; a nation or State-sovereign is the person or persons in whom that resides. In Europe the sovereignty is generally ascribed to the Prince; here it rests with the people; there, the sovereign actually administers the Government; here, never in a single instance; our Governors are the agents of the people, and at most stand in the same relation to their sovereign, in which regents in Europe stand to their sovereigns. Their Princes have personal powers, dignities, and pre-eminences, our rulers have none but official; nor do they partake in the sovereignty otherwise, or in any other capacity, than as private citizens. John Jay

Strictly speaking, in our republican forms of government, the 

absolute sovereignty of the nation is in the people of the nation; (q.v.) 

and the residuary sovereignty of each state, not granted to any of its 

public functionaries, is in the people of the state. (q.v.) 2 Dall. 471; and 

vide, generally, 2 Dall. 433, 455; 3 Dall. 93; 1 Story, Const. Sec. 208; 1 

Toull. n. 20 Merl. Repert. h.t. ..Bouviers Law Dictionary
To those that want to push the state to be the supreme power I want to warn you. While our federal government is indeed oppressive, looking to the state to be our master is no better. Look at California, where almost every Liberty-inhibiting regulation on the People has its start. While I do think the states must assert themselves and be more willing to fight the federal government for the freedom of the People, ultimately the People must stand up to both the state and federal governments, and reclaim their Rights and Liberties before they are finally and forever lost.  

1 comment:

  1. How can any entity claim sovereignty over another?


    Force. Whichever entity has a monopoly, or even a majority, of force will claim sovereignty over the lesser.

    In our "advanced" state as humans, it all still boils down to who has the bigger club.

    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. The penalty suffered for not guarding against and crushing each attempt at the usurpation of liberty is the gradual surrender of liberty and sovereignty.

    Individuals will not be free until they can live independent of the state. States will not be free until they are weaned off Federal funds (and by this, I mean property coerced from citizens). The Federal, or more accurately, national government will never be reigned in until it individuals and states lose dependence, claim sovereignty, and crush any and all future infringements upon that sovereignty. With force, if necessary.

    We recently saw the borough here try to force federal EPA PM requirements on the people by dictating home emission standards. The people neutered this through a ballot initiative, but still, the assembly and mayor refused to listen.

    Why? They were afraid to tell the EPA no.
    Why? I heard Mayor Hopkins say on the radio that he didn't want to lose federal funds.

    Independence means freedom from rule, but it also means that there is no...dependence.

    Until Alaska, and other states, lose their dependence on FedGov, they can never hope for independence, or sovereignty.

    Sorry for the rant. You got me thinking though. That was the point, right?