States were Once Sovereign Entities

The battle for states rights began almost immediately after the ratification of the Constitution. With the French threatening war over revolutionary war debt upon the election of John Adams in 1796 the "federalists" used the non-existent war to pass 4 pieces of legislation that were patently opposed to the Constitution and the principles upon which the Union of States of the Republic compact had been crafted. His Vice President, Thomas Jefferson, a Republican vehemently opposed These acts came to be called the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The Naturalization Act, least of the controversial enactments extended the period required for foreigners to become citizens. It was repealed after four years. The Alien Friends Act authorized the President to deport alien residents considered dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, and it expired after two years. The Alien Enemies Act, still on the books today, authorizes the president to deport aliens whose home countries are at war with the United States. The Sedition Act established fines and jail time for any person who shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering, or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either House of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt, or disrepute, or excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States.
Supporters defended the legislation by citing the "general welfare" and "necessary and proper" clauses of the Constitution. [notice the common trend today?] The constitutional problems with this are clear, because its partisan nature cannot be denied.
President Adams was a Federalist and the Congress was dominated by Federalists and under the Sedition Act they could not be criticized. Jefferson, Vice President, a Republican. The Sedition Act imposed no penalties for criticizing him. This was fine with Jefferson, who believed that it was his and every public servant's duty to submit to public scrutiny and whatever criticisms the public might voice.
One of the first convictions under the Sedition Act was a U.S. Congressman from Vermont for writing a letter and publishing another criticizing President Adams' "continual grasp for power," and "thirst for a ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation and selfish avarice." The letter he published was from an American in France who wondered why Adams had not been committed to "a mad house." Lyon was sentenced to four months in prison and fined $1,000. Stevens T. Mason, a U.S. Senator from Virginia, joined by ordinary citizens from Vermont, collected money to pay Lyon's fine and the outcry over the conviction resulted in Lyons winning re-election to the House while incarcerated. There were, of course many other such egregious convictions under the law.
Jefferson saw that some form of resistance was necessary to preserve the Republic. He had become reluctant to write letters, fearing that his letters were being opened by the Federalist postal workers. He puzzled over what form resistance to unconstitutional acts should take. He was after all a constitutional republican first, Vice President second. He believed that there needed to be a stronger response than petitions and protests. But he wanted the states to avoid secession [if possible. At no time did Jefferson or James Madison rule out the possibility that states would have to secede to protect their sovereignty and their citizens]
Here it must be remembered that immigrants became citizens of the states wherein they resided. That was the process by which one became an American. It was through the process of becoming a citizen of the SOVEREIGN STATE that one became a citizen of the REPUBLIC.
Jefferson laid forth his political view of the federal union in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 that were sponsored in the Kentucky Legislature by John Breckinridge, who argued that when the federal government enacted merely "impolitic" laws, the people should strive to repeal them. However, when the federal government passed laws that extended beyond its constitutional powers, the people at the state level ought to make a legislative declaration that, being unconstitutional, they are therefore void and of no effect. With regard to the Alien and Sedition Acts in particular, while Breckinridge hoped the Congress might repeal them, he declared that the states could nullify them.
Here it is important for students to keep in mind that in the formation of the compact between states, which is THE CONSTITUTION the federal government is limited to ONLY those powers which are EXPRESSLY delegated by the States and WE THE PEOPLE not the converse. In that era those true to the ideals set forth in the Constitution knew that for ANY LAW to be enforced within ANY STATE the state had to ascend, that is APPROVE and issue it as LAW within its borders. That is why archives of every state still have volumes regarding all legislation passed by the federal government that was or was not endorsed and approved by the legislature of that state. Barring that approval and issue from the STATE no law held power within the borders of that state. A fact that even Constitutionalists today fail to clearly understand. It was this process that inspired Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky Resolutions and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 respectively.
Breckinridge stated this, "I hesitate not to declare it as my opinion that it is then the right and duty of the several States to nullify those acts, [here referring to any unconstitutional acts] and to protect their citizens from their operation." To those who replied that federal judges had found the Acts [specifically the Alien and Sedition Acts] to be constitutionally unobjectionable and so the matter was closed, Breckinridge replied, "Who are the judiciary? Who are they, but a part of the servants of the people created by the Federal compact? And if the servants of the people have a right, is it good reasoning to say that the people by whom and for whose benefit both they and the government were created, are destitute of that right?"
Let me here give a bit less eloquent explanation. The federal court, being an entity of the federal government is unlikely to oppose an dictate of the federal government. It is like expecting your adversary's brother to arbitrate an dispute you may have with his brother fairly. That is why State sovereignty is so important to preserving individual liberty. The federal government has to be chained to the powers only specifically assigned to it by the States as set forth in the Constitution.
The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 addressed the duty of the states to protect their citizens from abuse of federal powers. Herein in part most relevant:
Resolved; That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united in principle of unlimited submission to their general [federal] government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes-delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general [federal] government assumes undelegated its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress. [Emphasis added]
The conclusion is returned to general principles read the text, "This Commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its Co-states are, tamely to submit to undelegated and consequently unlimited powers in NO MAN OR BODY OF MEN ON EARTH."
We see that today WE THE PEOPLE are in a struggle against a tyrannical federal government that is imposing its UNCONSTITUTIONAL acts upon SOVEREIGN STATES. If we have surrendered the Sovereignty of the States to the Federal Union, as was Lincoln's intent, then we must RESTORE STATE SOVEREIGNTY by NULLIFYING THE POWERS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and then rejoin the compact anew with the Constitution stripped of all illegal amendments from 1861 forward, nullifying all power of legislation that emanated from that illegal federal [centralist] government and moving forward as a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC , the Union of Sovereign States of America.
The only way to restore the Republic is to dismantle the existing centralist federal tyranny; the Corporate State and all the agencies and agents thereof.

Michael A. Turley