Cracking up

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  March 19, 2009

These organizations spout all manner of anti-federal-government rhetoric; the Ohio Freedom Alliance, for example, advocates for that state to introduce its own gold and silver currency as an alternative to federal money. Some of the groups have close ties with militia groups, as well.

Jerome R. Corsi, author of the wild-eyed smear tract The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, and one of the movement's main spokespeople, has frequently appeared on the nationally syndicated Alex Jones Show to discuss sovereignty resolutions. So have several of the state lawmakers. The eponymous host of that radio program is a big fan of the state-sovereignty efforts — and a full-throated conspiracy hawker. Jones's latest documentary purports to show how "the Obama phenomenon is a hoax carefully crafted by the captains of the New World Order . . . in an attempt to con the American people into accepting global slavery."

Obama-hatred and anti-government anger are also readily apparent among many of the resolutions' sponsors. South Carolina representative Michael Pitts, in a recent interview about the resolution he is sponsoring, said that "the trend toward federalism" is leading the country "headlong" into "socialism and maybe even communism." Pitts added that he would "prefer" to reverse this trend without the course of action "tried in 1861" — i.e., secession.

The resolution's lead sponsor in Michigan has called it "the first shot across the bow" for a movement to challenge the federal government. In Oklahoma, lead sponsor Charles Key is best known for chasing conspiracy theories regarding the federal government's role in the Murrah building bombing. The sponsor in another state has also filed a bill to prevent the federal government from building the "NAFTA Superhighway" supposedly being planned by the mythical North American Union — a new, European Union–style alignment with Mexico and Canada, to which the US secretly intends to abrogate its sovereignty.

The North American Union, a favorite conspiracy of Corsi and the Ron Paul crew (though denounced by Paul himself), comes up a lot in this crowd — second only, perhaps, to ubiquitous warnings about impending gun-control measures. Itse, in fact, tells the Phoenix that his "overriding concern" when he began drafting his resolution last year was "the US ceding our sovereignty to a North American Union."

Regardless of how many "state sovereignty" resolutions are introduced, or even passed, they will have no actual effect on anything — and secession is less realistic than even the North American Union.

But there's talk of such nonetheless — and no matter how often its proponents insist that the Tenth Amendment Movement is nonpartisan, or has nothing to do with the Democrats' taking control of Washington, that is exactly what is driving it.

While the federal-state balance has indeed moved far to the federal side, constitutional experts say that this is old news. It is certainly no truer today than when George W. Bush and a Republican Congress were in power — and there were no such resolutions introduced then.

In fact, since the last round of state-sovereignty resolutions, the Supreme Court has actually begun to set some limits on federal reach, says Bloom, with three decisions issued between 1995 and 2000.

Those rulings are apparently unknown to the authors and supporters of the sovereignty resolutions. Because most of their new resolutions are simply copied from the 1994 versions, none of them cite any of these rulings (although many cite a 1992 decision), nor are they discussed on supporting Web sites or other materials. The people claiming to suddenly be so concerned about the federal-state balance do not even seem to know where that balance currently stands.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to David S. Bernstein can be reached at

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