Can States Say No to the Feds? Cities Show the Way of State Sovereignty

The United States of America ARE, not the United States of America IS. Each state in the union of states has its own constitution, governor, and body of laws. Each state has its own way of collecting taxes. No group of states can tell other states how to run their state.

Some states have a state income tax, and some don’t.

If we don’t like how our state is being governed, we can move to another state. This is one reason for the inclusion of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

At the time of the ratification of the Constitution, the 13 states were independent of any national government. Bit by bit, state sovereignty was turned over to the national government. The so-called Civil War accelerated the process. The New Deal under FDR and the Great Society under LBJ made the many states into one nation-State.

In constitutional terms, do states have to obey national edicts from either Congress or the Courts? Can the states legitimately say “no”? I believe they can, if they can demonstrate that the new laws are unconstitutional and the decision is done by the elected state legislators. This type of action by the states is not revolutionary. Lesser magistrates (state governments) are calling into question the legitimacy of the greater magistrate (federal government), the very thing the Declaration of Independence did.

Actually, a state government rejecting the illegitimate authority of the national government is less radical than what the Declaration of Independence outlines.

We’re beginning to see resistance from lesser governments when the greater government breaks its covenant with the lesser governments at the city level. Consider the city of Atlanta.

When my wife and I moved to the area in 1979, the city of Atlanta had jurisdiction over a number of municipalities. These districts were chafing under the corruption, mismanagement, and high taxation of the Atlanta city government, so they decided to separate their governments from the city. Consider the following:

“The city [of Atlanta] has experienced an ongoing succession of government scandals, ranging from a massive cheating racket to corruption, bribery, school-board incompetence and now the potential loss of accreditation for the local DeKalb County school system.

“For several years, problems of this sort have fueled political reforms, including the creation of new cities in northern Atlanta suburbs. Due to the intensification of corruption scandals in DeKalb, some state-level reform proposals could become national news very soon.

“As a result of the unsavory politics in urban Atlanta, northern suburban communities acted to distance themselves. Beginning in 2005, many communities began the process of incorporating into cities.”

What’s been the result? Corruption continues in Atlanta, and these northern suburban communities are thriving. They are on sound financial footing. The final act of separation for the city of Atlanta is in the area of education. “The new cities may soon be able to create their own school districts, which would free them even further from the issues besetting Atlanta.”

Like Detroit, Atlanta is a majority-black city. The metropolitan area of Atlanta is made up of more than five million people. If you’ve ever flown anywhere, you’ve landed in Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport. While the metro area is one of the largest economies in the world, about 25 percent of the city lives at or below the poverty level.

Our nation’s welfare system has made these cities, as well as parts of Philadelphia and Memphis, into government wards. There are certainly a large number of black professionals in the city of Atlanta. They are fed up with the corruption and mismanagement of the city government.

As expected, there has been resistance:

“The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus filed a lawsuit in 2011 to dissolve the new cities, claiming they were a “super-white majority” and diluting the voting power of minorities.

“A key leader in the black community and a driving force in support of the lawsuit, who wishes to remain anonymous, bemoaned the ‘disturbing tendency of black electorates to not elect the smartest and brightest, or even the cleverest.’”

The problem is not with the municipalities that are separating from the city of Atlanta. The problem is with the government of the city of Atlanta that believes that the only solution to its problems is more government intervention and control.

Cities like Atlanta are trying to replicate the national model. The only problem is cities, counties, and states can’t print money.