Utah Legislature Approves Sound Money

Today, the Utah Senate passed HB317, a bill which will legalize gold and silver as tender within the state of Utah and exempt the exchange (purchase) of such specie from sales and capital gains taxes. Having already passed the House, the bill will now be sent to Governor Herbert to be signed into law, should he so decide.

This type of bill is one that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country, with multiple states introducing and considering such legislation. Though Utah is now the first state to have a legislature approve of the idea, the sustained momentum of getting other states to review the proposal demonstrates the resiliency of the campaign for sound money. With the U.S. Dollar plummeting in value, this is an issue that will become more popular as time goes on.

As the author of the bill noted in a Fox News article on the subject, this bill will allow Utahns to better prepare for financial turmoil ahead, more easily diversifying into currency with a long history of stability.

This bill, however, is a watered down version of the original submission by the author, Larry Hilton. As we reported previously, the goals of this effort are far more comprehensive and specific. The limited provisions included in this final bill, while certainly welcome, are merely a first step. Expect to see successive legislation in upcoming sessions to expand and broaden the scope of what the legislature passed today.

Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution states emphatically that “no state shall make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.” Plainly put, this is the goal: to restore the Constitution’s mandate of gold and silver as the only currency accepted in payment of debts by the states. A recent op-ed at notes what the realization of this goal would achieve:

Over time, as residents of the State use both Federal Reserve Notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve Notes do will lead to a “reverse Gresham’s Law” effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve Notes). As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the State’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the State (as citizens residing in other States carry out their desire to bank with sound money), and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve Notes for any transactions.

With this vote, Utah has demonstrated leadership among the states on the issue of sound money in taking one step towards the constitutional mandate that has for decades been ignored. Please contact Governor Gary Herbert’s office at 801-538-1000 and ask that he sign this important bill into law.


You can download the Constitutional Tender Act template here:

Track Constitutional Tender legislation in the states at this link:

Is Senator Mike Lee a "Radical Tenther?"

If you read Think Progress’s article by Ian Millhiser you may think so.   The article is even listed under “Radical Right-Wing Agenda” to help readers understand how radical Lee’s interpretation is.  Reading the many comments on the article most of the Think Progress readers accept the authors’ view.  What is left out is key to understanding what helped create a country of citizens living more free than any other in history.  Federalism is not radical; it is painted by progressives that way to help mask just how regressive their philosophy of governing truly is.

Before looking deeper into the commentary itself it is important to see just how accurate the author is.  The first indicator the author may not be too concerned with accuracy beyond his views is a simple confusion on the date this video was posted.  Mr. Millhiser begins his attack, and it is an attack, by stating, “Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) posted a lecture on his YouTube channel where he explains in great detail his views on the Constitution.”  His article was posted Jan. 11, 2011.  Clicking the link to the video shows it was posted on Jan. 04, 2010 as he was beginning his campaign for the U.S. Senate in Utah.  Where was the claim of radicalism a year ago?


The 2011 Utah Tenth Amendment Agenda

Last night, the Utah Tenth Amendment Center held its first annual legislative briefing, bringing together pro-10th amendment legislators with over 75 leaders and influential members of the various political and patriotic groups throughout the state. The purpose of this meeting was to allow any legislator to present to this group who planned to introduce a bill this session that relates to the 10th amendment.

What follows is a basic summary of each presentation.


Introducing the Utah Intrastate Commerce Project

Throwing any anachronistic caution to the wind, Congress now assumes the authority to regulate anything and everything it deems worthy of its attention. Over 300 federal regulatory agencies exist, such as the FDA, EPA, USDA, CDC, OSHA, HHS, ATF, FDIC, FAA, FCC, FTC, FETC, FEMA, FERC and many others, each of which is empowered by Congress to effectively legislate through its regulations that are enforceable by law.

As with any institution, these seek greater influence and power—ostensibly to better accomplish their agency’s mission. Capitalizing upon any circumstance that might justify a request for an augmentation of their powers, bureaucratic busy-bodies are constantly clamoring for more legislation to attain that end. At times, they simply produce a new power by fiat.

If and when asked where they derive their authority to micro-manage the economic exchanges of American citizens, congressmen will defer to the judicially-inflated commerce clause. Like a plastic surgery addict, this constitutional provision has become entirely unrecognizable from its original form.


Governor Herbert Calls for Ongoing Resistance to Un-Constitutional Federal Laws

During his inauguration ceremony today, Governor Gary Herbert said the following in his speech:

As a state, we will advocate states’ rights and we will vigorously resist the increasing burden of federal intrusion into our lives.

We at the Utah Tenth Amendment Center have a feeling that the Governor will be given several opportunities over the next few months, as the 2011 general legislative session ensues, to demonstrate his ongoing commitment to the Tenth Amendment. We are aware of several bills—some already publicized, others not as of yet—that will strengthen the resistance to extra-constitutional encroachments by the federal government.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for updates on these and others bills as they are announced and work their way through the legislature!

The Utah Sound Money Act

photo credit: Corey Holmes

In 1980, Zimbabwe became a sovereign African nation, gaining its independence from the United Kingdom. At that time, their dollar was valued at a higher rate than the U.S. dollar, at a rate of 1 to 1.25. Earlier this decade, President Mugabe—in power since 1987—began to fulfill a long-standing campaign promise to equalize land ownership, through a campaign called Fast Track Land Reform. While white Zimbabweans constituted less than 1% of the population, they owned around 70% of the land. In 2000, Mugabe began to seize and redistribute land owned by whites to black Zimbabweans.

The economy quickly tanked in response to these moves, as well as the resulting sanctions imposed by several Western nations. That year it declined by five percent, then by eight percent in 2001, then twelve percent in 2002. Inflation quickly surpassed normal percentages and increased into the tens, then hundreds, then thousands, and then like an asymptote, skyrocketed towards infinity. At its highest rate, Zimbabwe’s inflation reached a monthly high of nearly 80 billion percent.

I carry in my wallet one of the most potent objects that can be used in teaching others the nature and importance of sound money: a 100 Trillion Zimbabwe Dollar note—the highest amount ever printed. (Get your own!)


Where's the Line?

A simple question each of us needs to learn.  As Ken Ivory (UT-HD47) has stated, “I don’t have all the answers but I have a really good question, where’s the line?”  We just came from a presentation by Mr. Ivory and he is creating a ground swell of excitement here in Utah that will be spreading across the country and you can help!  As a matter of fact this is so simple to grasp and powerful to enact you will want to help.

Anyone investing a few minutes to read this knows the 10th Amendment.  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  In his new booklet Mr. Ivory talks about the foundations of our “Compound Republic” and it is built upon a vertical separation of powers even more important to our preservation than the horizontal separation most were taught in 8th grade civics classes.  “The founders of this nation understood that it is the nature and disposition of men and governments to amass and consolidate unbridled power and control, or, in their words, tyranny.” (Ivory, p. 1)  The basic roots of Federalism, that unique grand experiment formed by our U.S. Constitution, has a line drawn between two governments, the State and General government levels.

Today our General government forgets there is a constitutional line while many state legislatures and governors forget their responsibility to hold the line against national encroachment, or usurpation.   When the powerful forces from D.C. send down mandates to the states there are many ways they control the strings of those who forget their responsibility to protect citizens from direct government control.  Instead they accept the mandates and all the incessant strings that come with acceptance.   By doing this the states are liable to the people for helping to weaken our governing dictates designed to secure the Blessings of Liberty for our Posterity.

According to Mr. Ivory, “The constitutional relationship among sovereign governments, State and national, is formalized in and protected by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.” (p. 19) Remember the words of Jefferson who reminds us the States are, “the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies.”  If we wonder why we are developing rapidly into a representative democracy and losing our republican roots it is due to States failing in their responsibility for too many decades.

Mr. Ivory has clearly outlined the 37 enumerated powers found in the Constitution.  Beyond any of these the people need to ask their state legislatures why they are allowing the national government to cross the line.  We will be fighting against a long tradition of usurpation, so long it is an accepted form of operation today and it should not be.  If we continue to allow the line to be ignored then we can expect men and governments to follow the natural tendency, to draw power to the center.  Can you learn to ask the simple question, where’s the line?  More importantly, will you join many across this country over the next year who will ask this question so often it will become the one question all politicians know will be coming no matter what they do.

Stay tuned for the soon to be available booklet and website.  The title of Mr. Ivory’s timely booklet is ‘Where’s the Line?  An Investigation into the Rights, Powers, and Duties of State Legislatures.’ Armed with this booklet and a voice you too can join together with many who are tired of governments crossing their line of power.  We are a Federalist, Compound Republic built with the double security of vertical and horizontal separation of powers.  Only by restoring this can we once again take back our responsibility to raise our children, care for our needy, and embrace the level of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity our Framers and Founders envisioned.  Where’s the Line? Alexander Hamilton knew it well, he knew the proper guardianship.

It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority. (Federalist #28) (emphasis added)

We may safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority. (Federalist #85) (emphasis added)

Join the new group at the Heritage Training Center network;

Our state legislators' right and duty

The following was an email we sent to each legislator in Utah last week.

Dear Legislator,

I hope that by now you’ve had the time to read, or at least thumb through, the copy of Nullification you were recently sent. Whether or not you agree with all the points presented in the book, the compilation of historical examples, quotes, and sources provide a frighteningly relevant comparison to our own political climate.

I wanted to briefly share with you a quote which I think encapsulates your charges as legislators for the sovereign state of Utah. The following is from Governor Jonathan Trumbull, speaking to the state legislature in his state, Connecticut, in 1809:

Despairing of substantial relief from any other quarter, the people are now looking with anxious solicitude and hope, to the wisdom and direction of the Legislature of their own choice [their state legislature] ; and seem confident that some mode may be devised to remove the pressure under which they are at present suffering. To your collected wisdom and prudence they submit the task. And may it not be hoped, that, with our united efforts under a temperate, discreet and firm consideration of our situation and circumstances, we may be able by the influence of divine aid, to fulfil the just and reasonable expectations of our fellow citizens? Whenever our national legislature is led to overleap the prescribed bounds of their constitutional powers, on the State Legislatures, in great emergencies, devolves the arduous task—it is their right—it becomes their duty, to interpose their protecting shield between the right and liberty of the people, and the assumed power of the General Government.

This statement was made at the opening of a special session convened by Governor Trumbull to deal with an embargo enacted by President Thomas Jefferson. In addition to the above, he specifically declared that it would be “useful for the general good, if the State Legislatures were often to cast a watchful eye towards the general government, with a view, candidly to consider, and judiciously discern, whether the powers delegated to the United States are not exceeded, or are so exercised as to not interfere with or counteract those which are reserved by the people for their own management.”

Whether the subject be the TSA’s invasive screenings, the food bill which the U.S. Senate passed this morning, commercial regulation, health care mandates, or a host of other issues, it is readily apparent that a large number of situations exist in which the citizens of Utah “despair[] of relief”, looking to “the wisdom and direction” of you, our state legislators.

I submit the preceding quote for your consideration, in hopes that it will serve to emphasize the gravity of the issues that lay before us. I invite you to take the time to study the tools of interposition and nullification, and explore ways, leading up to our next general session in January, that you can demonstrate to your constituents, and Utahns as a whole, your commitment to holding up a “protecting shield between the right and liberty of the people, and the assumed power of the General Government.”

We at the Tenth Amendment Center stand ready to assist you in whatever way we can.

The Disunited States of America: False Unity Between States in Bondage

photo credit: Randy Son of Robert

While many people assume that the thirteen colonies which declared independence from Great Britain did so jointly as part of a newly-formed (or -forming) nation, this is incorrect. This belief is not only erroneous, but also dangerous.

If one assumes that a conglomeration of the colonies secured independence and international recognition as a single unit, then this warped view of history would lend support for seeing our country today as similar in nature: a singular entity, “The United States.”

History tells a different story. For example, an 1840 history book written by Abel P. Upshur notes the following:


Is the Repeal Amendment What We Need?

Anytime there is any constitutional amendment proposed the first thing everyone needs to think about is basic.  As Constitution Scholar Gary Alder says, “When you change your constitution you are altering your form of government.”  He further states, “I can’t help but think that when amendments are proposed as readily hastily as they are these days without regard to the ramifications of those changes, it is like two doctors arguing that their method of performing a complicated operation is best—one because it takes less time and the other because it leaves a smaller scar—rather than sitting down together and discussing the interrelationship between the circulatory and respiratory systems and how the proposed operation can be performed without damaging either system.  NO AMENDMENT SHOULD EVER be HASTILY DRAFTED or ONLY SUPERFICIALLY EXAMINED.”

There is a good argument the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution did not alter the form of government as Madison originally identified areas within the Constitution to add what we now refer to as the Bill of Rights.  However, every amendment since then has impacted our form of government, most in a negative way (19thAmendment, however ladies, was a good one).

In a move that the amendment’s author, Georgetown University Law Professor Randy Barnett, says will help restore the authority reserved to the states it initially appears this might be a good amendment.  ”This amendment reflects confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, and elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states,” Barnett was quoted as saying by Andrea Stone. “Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.”

The Repeal Amendment is short and to the point, something indicative of a possibly good change.  It does not have the infamous words that have haunted so many amendments since reconstruction, “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The text simply states;

“Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”

Knowing the growing pressure in many states to revive support for the 10th Amendment it is easy to understand why this is gaining such a positive response in Tea Party circles.  Since being submitted Tuesday by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) it has gained a lot of steam early.  Rep. Bishop, founder of the 10th Amendment Task Force, called it a weapon in states’ quivers and alluded to this being one of several proposals to come.  ”I actually hope to have a series of statutes and amendments — several amendments and several statutes — that we can introduce this year,” Bishop said, “with the sole goal of not just cutting down the power of Washington to do things to people, but more importantly, is to empower states.”

Is it easier to empower states by creating a series of new changes to our form of government or to use the same passion, energy, and effort to repeal errors of past changes?  Also, are we to believe Rep. Bishop, Cantor (R-VA), and other D.C. representatives when they say this amendment will check federal government while restoring power to the states and people as it was meant to be?  Of course we are to believe this is the easiest and best way to restore order, after all these are Tea Party backed, grassroots politicians proposing these changes so we know it is OK to trust in their proposals, don’t we?  As a matter of fact, we should be rallying at capital steps across the country with big signs and cheering grand cheers to our new defenders and their saving amendment…repeal~repeal~amending federal power~repeal~repeal~such an easy deal!

Excuse me if I sound a wee bit skeptical Rep. Bishop and Rep. Cantor.  First, the repeal process, outlined in the amendment, does not consider one of the fundamental aspects of federalism our founders developed.  It was a part of Article VI, Clause 2 and it was a necessary part for both vertical separations of powers and sound checks to work.  Yes, I am referring to the often court abused, media misconstrued area commonly known as the Supremacy Clause. Before you jump up and down and scream this Wood fellow has no clue what he’s typing about I fully understand only federal legislation 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.”  The key word, Pursuance, was so important it was capitalized (our framers equivalent to bold type today).

Second, the amendment requires 33 (34 if you round up) states to be opposed to an item.  What will this do for the important state mechanism the 10th Amendment does help illuminate, the Doctrine of Interposition? With the common threat of nullification of unconstitutional laws, would this be all but negated by the repeal amendment?  If the 2/3 rule is not met then all states would be stuck with an unconstitutional law.  Historically, far less than 2/3 of states have adopted the same Resolutions of Interposition and yet the federal, or general, government has backed down in challenges to their wayward laws.  True 10th Amendment stances, based on sound nullification doctrine, works even today.  Medical marijuana is just one of many growing examples of this.

What about laws passed by the general government that are constitutional, based on the original meaning?  If enough states can rise against constitutional laws they too can be overturned, whether passed ‘in Pursuance thereof’ or not.  This amendment truly alters the vertical checks and balance provided under the original meaning.  In theory this amendment could weaken the federal level to a point of it being little more than it was under the Articles of Confederation. Although the federal government is far too large and intrusive today we will not find ourselves ‘securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’ by turning the dial that far back.

Is it really time to completely alter our form of government or, again, would it be better if all these efforts were focused on restoring original meaning before completely changing it?  Would Madison embrace such a departure?  I don’t believe he would yet I am quite confident he would fully support the restoration of today’s 10th Amendment efforts and the Doctrine of Interposition.  My confidence stems from his words, written in Jan. 1800 as part of his Report on the Virginia Resolutions in which he was defending his resolution rejected by other states. He wrote no truer words, words Rep. Bishop and Rep. Cantor should still be holding true to if they are as ardent defenders of the sovereignty of the states and our 10th Amendment as they seem to be.

The states, then, being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal, above their authority, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently, that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.

Ken Ivory further reminds us of the words of Thomas Jefferson, written in 1791 to Archibald Stuart;

It is important to strengthen the State governments, and as this cannot be done by change in the Federal Constitution (for the preservation of that is all we need contend for), it must be done by States themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government.  The only barrier in their power is a wise government.  A weak one will lose ground in every contest.