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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Supremacy, Sovereignty, and the U.S. Constitiution

By Douglas V. Gibbs

On Tuesday, I emailed and posted online the handout for the Corona Constitution Class, which meets each Tuesday Evening at 6:00 pm.  One of my email list recipients thought I was mistaken in one of the words I used in the mailer.

He saw:

Tuesday Night, 6:00 pm
AllStar Collision
522 Railroad St.
Corona, CA 92882

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs

www.politicalpistachio.com
www.douglasvgibbs.com
www.constitutionassociation.com


Lesson 11

Debt and Supremacy

Prior Debt

Article VI begins with "All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation."

The first clause of Article VI legally transfers all debts and engagements under the Articles of Confederation into the new government. This is not only the debts and engagements by the United States Government under the Articles of Confederation, but also includes all debts of each of the several States. After ratification of the Constitution, each and every State would be debt free, and all debt would be held by the federal government. This condition, according to the Constitution, would be the last time the States would legally be in debt. In Article I, Section 10, the Constitution forbids the States from issuing bills of credit.

Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary, suggested that the United States should remain in perpetual debt. Maintaining a perpetual debt, he explained, would be a mechanism that could assist in holding together the union, since States would be unlikely to secede when they are responsible for a part of the national debt.

Thomas Jefferson disagreed with Hamilton. He recognized the necessity to maintain the ability to borrow, and the need for credit, but found a national debt to be a potentially dangerous proposition.

"Though much an enemy to the system of borrowing, yet I feel strongly the necessity of preserving the power to borrow. Without this, we might be overwhelmed by another nation, merely by the force of its credit." -- Thomas Jefferson to the Commissioners of the Treasury, 1788.

"I am anxious about everything which may affect our credit. My wish would be, to possess it in the highest degree, but to use it little. Were we without credit, we might be crushed by a nation of much inferior resources, but possessing higher credit." -- Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1788.

"Though I am an enemy to the using our credit but under absolute necessity, yet the possessing a good credit I consider as indispensable in the present system of carrying on war. The existence of a nation having no credit is always precarious." -- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788.

"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing. I now deny their power of making paper money or anything else a legal tender. I know that to pay all proper expenses within the year would, in case of war, be hard on us. But not so hard as ten wars instead of one. For wars could be reduced in that proportion; besides that the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas." -- Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798.

"I sincerely believe... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." -- Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks...will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." -- Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." -- Thomas Jefferson

"... The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating." -- Thomas Jefferson

The Supremacy Clause

Article VI, Clause 2: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misapplied clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the Supremacy Clause has been used in line with the concept of Federal Supremacy. Federal Supremacy is a concept our first Chief Justice, John Jay, believed in. During his stint on the Supreme Court Jay worked feverously to establish broader powers for the courts, and to transform the federal government into a national government. He quit the Supreme Court after failing, pursuing an opportunity to be governor of New York.

Chief Justice John Marshall spent his 36 years on the Supreme Court attempting to establish, and expand federal supremacy, and largely succeeded. Marshall is embraced by statists as the one to develop federal supremacy in his opinion of the Mcculloch v. Maryland case in 1819 where the Court invalidated a Maryland law that taxed all banks in the State, including a branch of Alexander Hamilton's creation, the national Bank of the United States. Marshall held that although none of the enumerated powers of Congress explicitly authorized the incorporation of the national bank, the Necessary and Proper Clause provided the basis for Congress's action. Marshall concluded that "the government of the Union, though limited in its power, is supreme within its sphere of action."

During the 1930s, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Court invoked the Supremacy Clause to give the federal government broader national power. The federal government cannot involuntarily be subjected to the laws of any state, they proclaimed, and is therefore supreme in all laws and actions.

The legally, and commonly, accepted definition, as a result of the courts and the persistence of, regarding the Supremacy Clause, is that all federal laws supersede all State laws.

The commonly understood definition of the Supremacy Clause is in error. To understand the true meaning of this clause, one must pay close attention to the language used.

(finish reading at http://politicalpistachio.blogspot.com/2017/04/corona-constitution-class-supremacy.html)

  • The emailer wrote:

Subject: Question - Re: Corona Constitution Class: Supremacy

Regarding Supremacy, did you mean sovereignty?

  • I responded:
No, I did not mean "sovereignty". While Sovereignty is important, and a basic factor that must always be considered when it comes to constitutionalism, federal supremacy over certain issues is a reality, and an important reality when it comes to certain political policies. The Supremacy Clause indicates that the United States Constitution, Federal Laws which fall under the authority of the U.S. Constitution, and Treaties are the Supreme Law of the land, and the States cannot have laws contrary to the Supreme Law of the Land. That also means that unconstitutional federal laws cannot be supreme, because they are illegal in the first place. The Democrats use the Supremacy Clause to try and force States to comply with unconstitutional laws and regulations constantly. However, when something truly is supposed to be the Supreme Law of the Land, like immigration laws, suddenly the Democrats forget all about the Supremacy Clause. In the case of immigration, if federal immigration laws are the Supreme Law of the Land, that would mean that Sanctuary Cities and Sanctuary States laws are contrary to those lawful federal immigration laws, making the cities and States laws calling for sanctuary status in direct violation of the Supremacy Clause, and are, therefore, unconstitutional (illegal).

Blessings,

Douglas V. Gibbs

Director, Civics and Constitution Studies, CORE

Fellow, American Freedom Alliance

President, Constitution Association

Radio Host, KMET 1490-AM

Author, "25 Myths of the United States Constitution," "The Basic Constitution," "Concepts of the United States Constitution, and "Silenced Screams: Abortion in a Virtuous Society"

www.douglasvgibbs.com

www.politicalpistachio.com

www.constitutionassociation.com

www.constitutioneducation.net

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