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Along with its report on how Madison would have reacted to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Tenth Amendment Center added: “Thomas Jefferson, in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, declared ‘that every state has a natural right in cases not within the compact to nullify of their own authority all assumption of powers by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise the right of judgment for them.’”

This brings me to another urgent piece of advice from Justice Brennan. “How,” he once asked me, are we going to get the words of the Bill of Rights into the very lives of students?” He then answered his own question:

“Tell them stories about how we fought for those rights.”

It works. As I often recall, when I used to visit elementary, middle and high school classes around the country (before arthritis limited my traveling), I would do just that. And students got excited. Not that I’m a magnetic orator, but they were learning, it seemed for the first time, that they were Americans — and what to do about that.

Moreover, in all the debates and accusations about education reform, the need to involve students in their heritage of personal constitutional liberties is very seldom mentioned.

I worry about what kind of country my grandchildren’s children will be living in.

Nat Hentoff is a contributor to The Washington Times.