America Rising: Open Letter to Democrats
By Daniel Baker
There is indeed nothing new under the sun. The answer to the federal government’s current expansion far beyond the limits set by the Constitution lies in Thomas Jefferson’s response to the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Sedition Act blatantly ran afoul of the First Amendment by forbidding any speech against the government. It stated in part.
And be it further enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish … writings against the government of the United States, … then such person, being thereof convicted … shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.
Over the course of the past two hundred and twenty-two years, we have forgotten many of the basic principles that were fresh in Thomas Jefferson’s mind when he drafted the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. These resolutions lay out the proper response to the federal government’s unconstitutional actions and are quoted in the sections below.
Foremost of the forgotten principles is the fact that the states were fully autonomous before uniting under a contract known as the Constitution. Each state voluntarily gave up a portion of its sovereignty, but never surrendered it completely, in joining the United States. Thus, every state is a party to the Constitution, with the other states as co-parties. Here are some excerpts from Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions:
1. Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution … they constituted a general government for special purposes – delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government.