- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 20, 2003

Last week’s column, (Commentary pages, Dec. 17) provided unassailable evidence the protections of liberty envisioned by the Constitution’s Framers mean little today. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses from fellow Americans expressing disgust and fear over what our nation is becoming. Several asked how we can regain our liberties. My short answer is: I’m not sure they can ever be recovered. Let’s look at it.

We all have a moral obligation to pay our share for constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government, but we have no such obligation to have Congress take the earnings of one American and give them to another American. Forcing one American to serve the purposes of another is one way slavery can be defined.

I’m an emancipated adult fully capable of taking care of my own retirement. Why should I or anyone else be forced to pay into the government’s Social Security? Do you see any signs on the horizon such practices are coming to an end? The list of encroachments on personal liberty like these is virtually endless.

Self-determination is a human right we all should respect. If some people want socialism, that’s their right — but it is not their right to use brute government power to force others, who want liberty, to be a part of it. Liberty-minded Americans might organize to acquire government power to impose their will on socialist-minded Americans, but that’s not right either. A far more peaceful method is simply to part company.

That’s an idea already being explored by Free State Project. Their plan, as stated on their Web site (freestateproject.org) is: “20,000 or more liberty-oriented people will move to New Hampshire, where they may work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government. The success of the Free State Project would likely entail reductions in burdensome taxation and regulation, reforms in state and local law, an end to federal mandates and a restoration of constitutional federalism.”

In 1788, during New Hampshire’s ratification convention, a concerned people said “amendments and alterations in the said Constitution would remove the fears and quiet the apprehensions of many of the good people of this state and more effectually guard against an undue administration of the federal government. The Convention do therefore recommend that the following alterations and provisions be introduced into the said Constitution: (among them) First that it be explicitly declared that all powers not expressly and particularly delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several States to be, by them exercised.” The Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which mean virtually nothing now, were added to our Constitution in response to these fears.

While members of Free State Project have not proposed it, I would imagine that if New Hampshire’s elected representatives couldn’t successfully negotiate with the U.S. Congress to obey the Constitution, the only other alternative would be that of making a unilateral declaration of independence and go our own way just as our Founders did in 1776.

Many people might argue it’s the U.S. Supreme Court that decides what is constitutional. Here’s what Thomas Jefferson said about allowing the court to hold a monopoly on the interpretation of the Constitution: “The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what are not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the legislature and executive also in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.”

The history of the court, not to mention the recent decision on the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform that attacks free speech, proves Jefferson was right and Alexander Hamilton wrong in his Federalist Paper No. 78 prediction that the judiciary would be the “least dangerous” branch of government.

Walter Williams is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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