Two years ago, James Madison’s Montpelier Center for the Constitution conducted a survey of Americans’ knowledge of the Constitution of the United States of America. The report card should worry us all. Although the opening phrase of the Constitution says, “We the People,” 50% of respondents said that they believed that the government’s source of authority comes from elected officials while 48% believe it comes from “We the People.” Surely James Madison is turning in his grave.
And while 88% of respondents believe that limited government is important, only 35% believe that the Constitution specifically limits government power. The irony in these results is that while 30% of Republicans believe that the Constitution specifically limits government powers, 46% of Democrats do.
1 : withdrawal into privacy or solitude : retirement
2 : formal withdrawal from an organization
There are those who would have Arizonans view the Checks and Balances Initiative with contempt. They allege that this Initiative is tantamount to an act of secession. It is difficult to assign great weight to this allegation in a day and age where only 28% of Americans report having bothered to read the entire Constitution. It is equally likely that they also didn’t bother to read the wording of this Initiative.
You can read it for yourself here: http://checksandbalancesaz.com/initiative-wording/, but let’s examine its most important and perhaps most powerful sentence:
“The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land and may not be violated by the federal, state or any local government.”
Now compare the wording of this Initiative with the Ordinances of Secession passed by the states that actually seceded in 1860 and 1861.
Let us again review the text of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
“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.”
For those who have read the Constitution, endeavored to understand its mandates and to maintain “a more perfect union”, demanding that the federal government respect the 10th Amendment rights of the States and of the people and for Arizona to assert those rights on behalf of her citizens is a far cry from a formal declaration of withdrawal from the Union.
If the Checks and Balances Initiative were a prelude to secession, it is doubtful that it would mandate ever stricter adherence to and interpretation of the very Constitution whose ratification by the people of the state of Arizona it would be seeking to repeal.
If Congress believes that Arizona (or any other state) should surrender to the federal government control over issues that have long been the constitutional province of the states, such as education and healthcare, then Congress has the power to propose such an amendment to the Constitution and send it to the states for their ratification and if 38 states so agree, then those issues would then rightfully transfer to the province of the federal government.
The federal government has no problem marching into Court to defend its constitutional right to set immigration policy or to regulate affairs with foreign nations, and all Checks and Balances does is empower the state of Arizona to do the same – assert and defend her constitutional rights and those of her citizens.