In a solicitous move showing appropriate concern for the state of the United States, a Michigan county board recently voted to categorize the area as a “Constitutional County.”
Begging the question: Aren’t all counties, towns, states, and territories that are part of the United States supposed to be “constitutional” – i.e., running according to the supposed “rules” of governmental operation set down in 1787 and adopted in 1789?
As the Religious News Service (RNS) reports in ham-fisted fashion, somehow, this idea of “constitutional” has been relegated to the realm of “radical” and “potential terrorist” and “far right.” Sadly, the RNS reinforces this dumb association in its “report.”
“The Board of Commissioners of a lakeshore Michigan county has passed a resolution declaring it a ‘constitutional county,’ a designation favored by some far-right groups who believe state and federal governments have become tyrannical.”
At least the RNS correctly notes that this county is actually the second to make the move, noting that “Ottawa County, which borders Lake Michigan, is the second state county to vote on becoming a ‘constitutional county’ in the space of a month. Commissioners in Livingston County, located between Detroit and Lansing, adopted a similar resolution with a focus on the Second Amendment last month.”
And they add a tidbit that allows Americans to remember some important facets of U.S. civics.
“Though the wording of each resolution was different, the effect is to declare that the county will uphold the rights it views as established by the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution, minus whatever laws or mandates the county believes are unconstitutional. It explicitly encourages local law officers such as the sheriff and county prosecutor to not enforce state and federal laws they deem unconstitutional.”
This should not strike the RNS team as “alien” or “radical.” It’s how the system is supposed to operate.
Each functionary of the state and the U.S. – be he or she a bureaucrat, cop, military member, or politician – takes an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Within states, officials also swear oaths to do the same for their state constitutions. They do not swear oaths to uphold “statutes” of all kinds, and they do not swear oaths to uphold “court precedents.” As it is with informed juries, each individual in his position is supposed to assess the constitutionality of a statute or bureaucratic edict. If the proposed or passed edict or statute runs afoul of the U.S. and state constitutions, the official is sworn NOT to enforce it.
What’s the purpose of constitutions, if that is not the case?
Sadly, we see that many politicians, and even supposedly “religious” news services don’t grasp this most fundamental of principles. The RNS writer notes that members of the board were inspired by the ideas of pastor Matthew Trewhella, found in his book, “The Doctrine of The Lesser Magistrates.” Of course, despite how “alien” the RNS folks depict the concepts and principles in Trewhella’s work to be, the book lays out fundamentals.
It traces the idea of local political nullification -- from today, through to the Founders, to the signing of the Magna Carta – as being an essential bulwark against tyranny. I have a copy. It’s valuable reading, and the RNS folks might want to take a close look to help lift the scales of historical ignorance from their eyes.
In fact, the RNS writer(s) focus not on the fundamentals, not on oaths and the actual rights supposedly protected by the US and MI constitutions, but they linger on worries some people have that the county will not engage in activities such as “gun control” – i.e. anti-rights, anti-constitution activities that threaten people who want to peacefully own firearms.
And they roll in a law professor to offer the absolute reversal of how things are supposed to run. Treating this idea of actually conforming to the rules as NOT conforming to the rules, they write:
“Resolutions like this, say law experts, have no teeth.
‘They’re assertions of ideological spleen,’ said Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan. ‘It’s a way for the counties to signal that they are unhappy with the direction the state is going. But legally the declarations are meaningless.’”
Is that what King George said to Jefferson?
What are supposed to be meaningless and of no force are unconstitutional statutes and commands from the arms of leviathan. The default status for all areas of the United States is supposed to be operated according to the rules, the Constitution. Otherwise, why have it at all?
The Ottawa County board has done something that is more than “superficial” and “without teeth.” They have set on record how things are supposed to run, and theirs can be a signal to others, nationwide.
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