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We the People Act(HR 3893 IH)March 4, 2004 To limit the jurisdiction of the Federal courts, and for other purposes. Mr. PAUL (for himself and Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland) introduced the bill in the 108th Congress and needs to be introduced in the 109th Congress.
Sunday, December 5
While he was President, he asserted his position by his action (or inaction) rather than by theories, but after he had left office he made clear in letters and otherwise his position. For example, he wrote in a letter in 1820: "You [William C. Jarvis] seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions, a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy . . . The constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that, to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party its members would become despots." 9
Jefferson's position was that neither the United States, nor any of the branches of the government, nor of the states, is the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution. Ultimate authority is not vested in the United States government. It is a limited government. On the dispersion of powers among the governments, he wrote to Joseph C. Cabell in 1816: "Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties. . . , " and so forth. "It is by dividing and subdividing . . . that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body . . . 11 The ultimate arbiter of the Constitution, Jefferson explained, "is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention at the call of Congress or of two-thirds of the States." 12 In short, if some issue of power so agitates the country, let the matter be settled and put to rest by constitutional amendment
the Supreme Court took the lead in the 1950s and 1960s, and during those two decades it out-consolidated and out- concentrated the executive and legislative concentrators and consolidators of earlier decades. The high court planted its foot on the neck of the state and local governments, took away their independence of action, compelled them to perform their functions under its directives, and removed them entirely as an obstacle to federal power.
The substantive obstacles to the exercise of federal power, and especially by the Supreme Court, had been so far ignored, evaded, and misconstrued by the 1970s that the Constitution no longer served as a restraint on government. Instead, it had been largely re-construed as the fount of a cornucopia of benefits bestowed upon a dependent people by a government ravenous for the wealth of America and bent upon directing the course of the lives of Americans. Is this oppression? Jefferson would have said so, for he said that concentrated power is by definition oppression. But Jefferson spoke in terms of essences, not existences, of reason, not feeling, and many Americans will not recognize oppression until they feel it. That, too, may come; for many, it already has.
The strange thing is that even though this vast consolidation and concentration of power has taken place in the twentieth century, the Constitution has been little changed since 1791, and then mainly by the Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Amendments, and these were only made adjuncts of the concentration, they did not mandate it. The Constitution is still there to be recovered, if we but knew how and had the will to do it.
Clarence B. Carson, The LibertyHaven Foundation