Walter E. Williams

Recent opinion polls demonstrate a deepening distrust of the federal government. That's not an altogether bad thing.

Our nation's founders recognized that most human abuses are the result of government. As Thomas Paine said, "government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil." Because of their fear of abuse, the Constitution's framers sought to keep the federal government limited in its power. Their distrust of Congress is seen in the governing rules and language used throughout our Constitution.

The Bill of Rights is explicit in that distrust, using language such as "Congress shall not abridge," "shall not infringe," and "shall not deny." If the framers did not believe that Congress would abuse our God-given, or natural, rights, they would not have provided those protections. I've always suggested that if we see anything like the Bill of Rights at our next destination after we die, we'll know that we're in hell. A perceived need for such protection in heaven would be an affront to God. It would be the same as saying we can't trust him.

Other framer protections from government are found in the Constitution's separation of powers, checks and balances, and several anti-majoritarian provisions, such as the Electoral College and the two-thirds vote to override a veto.

The heartening news for us is that state legislatures are beginning to awaken to their duty to protect their citizens from unconstitutional acts by the Congress, the White House, and a derelict Supreme Court. According to an Associated Press story, about four-fifths of the states now have local laws that reject or ignore federal laws on marijuana use, gun control, health insurance requirements and identification standards for driver's licenses. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback recently signed a measure threatening felony charges against federal agents who enforce certain firearms laws in his state.

Missouri legislators recently enacted the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which in part reads that not only is it the right of the state Legislature to check federal overreaching, but that "the Missouri general assembly is duty-bound to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the basis of the Union of the States, because only a faithful observance of those principles can secure the nation's existence and the public happiness."

The bill further declares that the Missouri General Assembly is "firmly resolved to support and defend the United States Constitution against every aggression, either foreign or domestic." The legislation awaits Gov. Jay Nixon's signature or veto.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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