Skip to comments.Don't repeat this history [Cokie Roberts and Civil War]
Posted on 04/12/2010 12:13:20 PM PDT by Plutarch
CHARLESTON, S.C. Looking out from the harbor here, it's easy to imagine a mortar lighting up the night sky as it hurtled toward Fort Sumter and signaled the start of the Civil War. It's also easy, standing inside the walls of the island garrison, to view today's nullification battle over health care less as a frivolous political game and more as a serious threat to the Constitution.
"The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault on Fort Sumter," mourned President Abraham Lincoln. Painted on the wall of the fort's small museum, those words remind us that the war was the final act in the unraveling of the union. The disintegration began here in South Carolina as well, with the state's declaration almost 30 years earlier that federal tariff laws were "unauthorized by the Constitution ... and are null, void and ... not binding on this state."
That states' rights sentiment is with us again. The attorneys general of 14 states have filed suit challenging the health care law because, they argue, the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to require the purchase of health insurance. Virginia, acting in direct defiance of federal law, passed a measure making mandated health insurance illegal.
To critics who say this is just political gamesmanship by Republican AGs (plus a Louisiana Democrat who claims he's doing the bidding of the Republican governor), the states' chief law-enforcement officers insist they're following in a tradition dating back to the Founding Fathers themselves. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, they remind us, wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions challenging the Alien and Sedition Acts as an assumption of "undelegated powers" by the federal government. The 1798 resolutions termed the laws "unauthoritative, void and of no force."
It's a familiar argument to anyone who lived through the civil-rights era in the American South when Jefferson and Madison were hauled out regularly as champions of states' rights. The memory of that struggle remains fresh in Arkansas, where the attorney general has resisted pressure to join the nullifiers, sharing Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's view that "They tried it here in Arkansas in '57, and it didn't work." That year, President Dwight Eisenhower sent in federal troops to enforce school integration, deeming the Supreme Court's school-desegregation decision "the law of the land."
Recalling his state's history, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel bluntly concludes: "A state deciding that it wants to singularly defy federal law simply because the citizens may not like it that's not the way the democratic process works. That's not the way the Constitution is set up."
In the 1950s, it was the Supreme Court, not the Congress, that then-Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus took on by his insistence that "neither the state of Arkansas nor its people delegated to the federal government ... the power to regulate or control the operation of the domestic institutions of Arkansas."
And it's the Supreme Court that is likely to have the final say on this current challenge to federal authority. Most legal experts agree that the justices will probably uphold the health care law under the clause of the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce. But the currently constituted court could come to a different conclusion, and the defenders of states' rights could once again, as they did in the days before the Civil War, find a judicial branch sympathetic to their views.
It's hard to imagine what would happen politically if the Supreme Court sided with some states against Congress. The already severely frayed fabric of government would certainly be further torn apart. It's far better to leave the health care debate in the arena of electoral politics and for the losers to accept defeat. That's the essence of democracy.
It's an election, after all, that defused that first challenge to federal authority. Jefferson won the presidency and simply allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to expire. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions became irrelevant until the South Carolina nullification declaration when John Calhoun invoked them as precedent for his actions. But Madison was still around to dispute Calhoun, calling the South Carolinian's attempt to defy the law "anarchical," adding that it would have "the effect of putting powder under the Constitution & Union, and a match in the hand of every party, to blow them up at pleasure."
Which, of course, is exactly what happened 30 years later here at Fort Sumter. It's not a history any American wants to repeat.
The states were right in 1861 and right now. Cokie would gladly give up her freedom if Barack asked her to do so.
“That states’ rights sentiment is with us again.”
You bet your ass it is...and if it has to be resolved, so be it...your move, Marxist.
Obamacare is unconstitutional. Up yours, Cokie.
If the leftists want to have an actual shooting war to force communism on the country, well I guess we’ll just have to participate.
The Federal Government cannot dictate speed limits, drinking age, or DUI blood alcohol levels. Even with "commerce", the Fed holds no control over these laws. So the Feds withhold highway funds to force States to pass the legislation in areas that the Fed is not supposed to control.
Education is likewise a States' only issue. Funding is from local school districts.
But the witchhunting Leftists like to whip up a hysteria of "racism" whenever States' rights are mentioned.
Cokie, born into Beltway aristocracy, needs get familiar with this flag.
The spoiled little brat who started the fight, then crying to the teacher “he pushed me first”
Cokie has been smoking something that is illegal.
This argument is so utterly divorced from the facts of the matter words simply fail one.
Cokie’s an idiot.
Her inability to read the 10th amendment is staggering.
It’d be interesting to ask her this question:
If the Federal government can ignore the 2nd and 10th amendments (as it has continuously for years), why shouldn’t it ignore the First and Fourth, as well?
yeah... just bend over and take it
The civil war was less about slavery than it was about STATES RIGHTS
Slavery would have died out one way or another, and the USA LED THE WAY to getting rid of slavery.
Leftists get a big ol’ virtual stiffy
when they think about using the state
to punish and kill their ideological opponents.
“[Cokie Roberts and Civil War]”
Cokie’s comments are very revealing if you read between the lines. While the left generally trivializes the Tea Party as just a small group of fringe whack jobs, her comparison to the Civil War reveals her recognition of the depth and breadth of the movement, and that it must be taken seriously. That’s the closest thing to respect anyone from the left has uttered.
The Federal government also is prohibited from dictating marriage and age of consent laws.
Plenty of States’ rights that the Pravda Media does not want to acknowledge.
It will revive the 10th ammendment. It will breathe new life into it, and that probably scares them more than anything.
If it ends people stealing my life's work and giving it to slackers, I'm all for it.
Just to ask these folks that say that states can’t secede (which was “settled” by force, not by agreement, in the 1860’s) -
what are the states to do when the federal government,
the entity created by the states through the Constitution,
refuses to abide by that contract?
What is the recourse if secession is off the table?
There is a difference between 14 states using the legal system to challenge what they believe is an unconsitutional power grab by the federal government, and bombarding a fort into submission. Or didn't Cokie notice that?
Neither this queen of the beltway or her hubby have a clue about our Constitution. They have been raised to believe the Federal Government is the end all be all. Instead of whining about the second coming of the Civil War, perhaps they should take a few minutes to read the Constitution specifically the 10th Amendment.
“If the leftists want to have an actual shooting war to force communism on the country, well I guess well just have to participate.”
Proof liberalism is a mental disease. The lefties keep picking fights with the group that has all the guns. If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is. :<)
By the way, "It's far better ...for the losers to accept defeat."
That's a new one!
Hey, Cokie, was it the “essence of democracy” for the Supreme Court to invalidate the abortion laws of every state?
She’s taking “offense” to the idea of states or people
defying her god, the federal government.
They think they have the “sword of state” on their side.
Far better for the losers to accept defeat, unless those losers are Democrats who jam through a bill after losing a filibuster proof senate.
The first statement is correct, but the second is not. The US was one of the last civilized nations to abolish slavery. The British Empire used their navy to suppress the slave trade all over the world for three decades before the US abolished slavery. Only Brazil and Cuba were still practicing slavery after 1865, and Yankee ships continued to carry slaves to them until the 1880's.
CWII would be 78% versus 22%
It wouldn’t be a “Civil War” -
it would simply be the third war of independence in America.
The independence win/loss record is 1 and 1.
When we use the courts, that's good. When you use the courts, that's bad. It must be a liberal magnetic field; the logic needle always aligns in their favor no matter how they twist and turn.
The fuzzy logic here is: States lost all rights under the Constitution after the Civil War.
The desire for State’s rights is what led to the birth of this country. Further, it was a Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, which led to the protection of African American civil rights. The left has no problem with USSC enforment of the constitution when they agree with the ends. But hate it when the constitution gets in the way of their socialist agenda. How long before Obama proposes a court packing scheme?
Bill Ayers said some 30 years ago that in order for them to make America into a communist country that over 30,000,000 Americans would need to be eliminated, that means KILL us.
A more appropriate metaphor would be inaction of decent Germans in 1933.
Yes, indeed. That's the utopian fantasy that emerges from the sick parade of collectivist pornogaphy that passes for their thought processes. And they've said as much - Bill Ayers blithley dismissingg the slaughter of upwards of 25 million americans as necessary to usher in the new socialist world, forexample.
These people are monsters, all of them. Monsters. They are unfit to live in a free society.
They are simply following their master, the prince of this world.
We have an enemy, and he hates us because of who we are, creations in God’s image.
And he’ll kill and destroy as many as possible.
Their is no threat of civil war, and the Dems have to take Cokies advice and accept their losses graciously.
It's much harder to imagine the SCOTUS siding with Congress in mandating the purchase of goods and services, or fines and jail if you don't.
That would truly be time for a Revolution and/or Civil War.
Wouldn’t just be easier to disband the courts?
Britian, lead by William Wilberforce and numerous anti-slavery societies, actually outlawed the slave trade before America did sometime in the early 1800’s, but we were in the fight against slavery during the same time period as England was.
Er, no. It persists in the third world and Britain took the lead in outlawing it, in 1834.
But this is just a distraction. Whatever states' rights may be about in the current debate, it isn't slavery. And armed conflict is a lot less likely tactic than citizens' witholding federal taxes, which the feds simply lack the manpower to impose by force without state aid.
No one was forced to buy any service in 57, or any other year, you jackass.
Yeah... we should just put some ice on the Constitution as it lost to "democracy"...
The US Supreme Court is an entity of the Federal (created by the states) government. It is acting with the power of that entity, and as an agent thereof.
It is insanity to vest an agent of one party of a contract with the sole power of interpretation and modification of that contract. It is insanity to suppose that this was the ONLY recourse that the sovereign states would create in the system.
Ditto. Don't tread on me.
Cokie omits to mention that her father, as House Democrat Leader, signed the Southern Manifesto and opposed civil rights.
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