Prior to the Revolution, the British claimed the authority to issue Writs of Assistance allowing officials to enter private homes and businesses to search for evidence of smuggling. These general warrants never expired and were considered a valid substitute for specific search warrants.
With British tyranny fresh on their minds many states’ Ratifiers insisted on a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, and among those fundamental rights, the founders included a provision protecting the people from the arbitrary search and seizure.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Note the Fourth Amendment includes NO exceptions for the kind of blanket warrantless monitoring and data collection that the NSA has engaged in for years.
Not for catching “terrorists.” Not for super secret intelligence agencies. Not to “keep us safe.”
Yet the NSA spies on Americans incessantly. It digs through emails, collects Internet data and sifts through phone records. No warrants. No specification. No restraint. British tyranny pales in comparison.
So what do we do?
We could wait on Congress, but it has had plenty of chances to shut it down. Our representatives and senators keep rubber stamping it. We could rely on the courts. But when was the last time those black-robed federal employees did anything to limit federal power? They rubber stamp it too. Maybe the president will save the day. But the commission Obama formed to review NSA surveillance was packed with government insiders. More rubber stamps.
James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, gave us a blueprint for stopping federal overreach.
In Federalist 46, he argued that action at the state and local level, such as “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union,” should be used in response to unconstitutional federal acts, or even constitutional ones that are just very unpopular.
Taking his suggestions, he wrote, would create “serious impediments” for the federal government. And when several states join together doing the same, Madison said it would “present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.” (You can read more about Madison’s blueprint HERE.)
In the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, Madison wrote that “in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise” of power by the federal government, states “have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil.”
NSA spying represents just the kind of dangerous, palpable evil Madison was talking about.
It’s time for states to act.
Northern states successfully followed this blueprint to resist federal fugitive slave acts. Between 1820 and 1860, most northern states passed personal liberty laws to resist these acts that denied due process to any black person accused of escaping slavery. Personal liberty laws included provisions prohibiting state or local officials from cooperating with fugitive slave rendition and denying use of state or local facilities, such as jails. They were so successful, several southern states cited northern noncooperation with the fugitive slave acts in their declaration of causes for secession. (learn more about that here)
FIRST STEP: NOW
We can follow in the courageous footsteps of northern abolitionists who fought federally sanctioned kidnapping at the state and local level, and rein in the U.S. surveillance state.
The first step? A state-level response, the 4th Amendment Protection Act, the first step in the process that James Madison advised.
The strategy? Hinder the NSA’s ability to gather information unconstitutionally in the United States by denying them any cooperation from state and local governments, and incentivize others to refuse cooperation as well.
First off, it prohibits any political subdivision in the state from providing material support to any agency collecting information without a warrant describing the person(s), place(s) and thing(s) to be searched or seized. It denies the use of state resources or state funds for these organizations. And, it bans state and local law enforcement from utilizing such information obtained by the NSA because they’re violating the 4th Amendment.
In other words, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”
Second, it prohibits any political subdivision in the state from providing services to organizations like the NSA engaging in warrantless spying. This becomes particularly significant when considering a political subdivision of Utah supplies 1.7 million gallons of water to keep the NSA spy grid cool. That would shut off.
Third, it makes any person or business cooperating with unconstitutional spying ineligible to do business with state or local governments. This would give Internet providers and other tech companies economic factors to consider before signing on to turn information over to the NSA.
It also provides some pretty severe penalties for anyone violating the act and lending the feds a hand.
Passage of such legislation in your area (state OR local) will begin a process which will lead to “obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.” And once step one is moving forward, Step 2 will up the ante considerably.
GET THE BALL ROLLING TODAY:
The 4th Amendment Protection Act is our opportunity to defend the Bill of Rights, stop unwarranted searches of innocent, law-abiding citizens and stand up against Big Brother.
The best part? It’s a bill to be introduced in your STATE, and doesn’t rely on Congress, the Courts, the President – or the NSA. It’s about protecting the 4th Amendment whether they want us to or not.
In many ways, the NSA’s spying program relies on cooperation, assistance, or partnerships with states and local communities. Information-sharing, use of precious resources, university research and more – with some resistance in our states, the NSA is going to have an extremely difficult time carrying out the programs they’re currently running.
Some examples: Utah is providing the NSA with millions of gallons of water. Texas provides electricity. Augusta, Georgia handles things water and sewage treatment. In almost every state, fusion centers operate and receive information to share with local law enforcement, and major universities partner with the NSA to provide critical research and recruiting grounds for future analysts.
While one might think that the NSA can pull off all their data collection without this kind of state and local help, the facts show the opposite. As far back as 2006, the NSA itself started acknowledging serious issues with resources when it maxed out the Baltimore-area power grid. And from there, the new San Antonio, Texas data center was born.
FACT: Without our help, the NSA just doesn’t have the manpower or the resources to do what it wants to do.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
On a state level, the 4th Amendment Protection Act bans your state from all of these activities, and more. While it doesn’t physically shut down the NSA, it creates what James Madison considered “obstructions which the federal government would be hardly willing to encounter.” (federalist #46).
Here are some examples:
• Hitting their Achilles Heel: NSA needs resources, and if your state has a data center (or “other” location), the act would ban the state from providing those resources – as is currently happening in most every NSA location.
• De-Coupling State/Local Law Enforcement from the Federal Police State: One of the greatest dangers of constant spying is turning your local law enforcement into a federal police force. By banning your state from receiving information from the NSA (or any other federal agency) when it is obtained without warrant, you de-couple your state from the national police state. The NSA is currently funneling information to local law enforcement via the Special Operations Division (SOD) and Fusion Centers.
• Restricting their Research Capabilities: The NSA has partnered with 166 universities around the country. In these locations, their is significant research being done which will help the NSA expand its capabilities. The schools also create a natural fertile ground for NSA analyst recruitment. State universities would be banned from this practice.
• Penalizing Corporations: While many NSA locations rely heavily on state and local governments to operate, in some areas corporations can and do fill the gap. The Act would create the potential for sanctions on the corporations that partner with unconstitutional spying.
The act is based on the universally-accepted “anti-commandeering doctrine.” This is the principle that the states (and their political subdivisions) do not need to take any action to help the federal government carry out any of its acts, laws, rules, regulations or other programs. NSA spying – included.
Whether it’s experts on the left, the right, or in the middle – all agree with this doctrine. There is absolutely zero serious dispute.
Even the Supreme Court regularly affirms the principle. The most significant cases include:
• 1842 Prigg, states weren’t required to help carry out federal slavery laws
• 1992 New York, a locality wasn’t required to carry out federal trash disposal regulations
• 1997 Printz, a locality wasn’t required to carry out federal gun restrictions
• 2012 Sebelius, states weren’t required to implement health care expansions under the Affordable Care Act even under the threat of losing federal funding.
If you can not identity a friendly state lawmaker to introduce the state legislation, don’t worry. There is a local version of the 4th Amendment Protection Act available HERE. This is a way for you to turn your community into a vehicle for defending the rights of the people.
A local 4th Amendment Protection resolution is a powerful vehicle to build support for the state-level act.
If enough communities voice their disdain for the NSA’s illegal spying by passing a local resolution against it, the state legislature will be forced to take notice and act. Getting involved locally also inspires other leaders to take it upon themselves to defend freedom, and it wakes up government officials who might not fully understand the scope of the NSA’s ‘intelligence’ program.
Big Brother wants us all to remain fragmented and atomized so we do not understand the true power that we have to stop them. They will not succeed unless we get involved NOW to organize and encourage methods of resistance. By targeting the feds’ need to use our natural resources for their nefarious schemes, we can bring their totalitarian ambitions to a screeching halt.
Are you ready to make history? Are you ready to show big brother who’s boss? If so, join us!
Provided by The Tenth Amendment Center.