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The NAFSL urges states to stand up and rightly reclaim the sovereignty originally granted to them in the US Constitution, thereby reestablishing the proper balance of federalism as envisioned by our Founders. 

 

We are fortunate to have time-honored principles and an historical perspective to guide us in this essential recovery of freedom.

Not long after gaining independence, our fledgling nation of assembled and autonomous states realized that some very specific issues needed national or centralized leadership. As a result, they convened a convention of the states in 1787 to initiate a discourse on federalism, a consensual agreement of shared governance, authority, and limitations between the states and a national government, and then codify the compact in a new constitution.

 Throughout the debate, the Founders were very wary of creating a national government that they knew would naturally gravitate toward centralization and potentially infringe on the sovereignty and rights of the states. As expected, during the state ratification process of the new constitution, bitter disagreement arose between some of those who authored the document, and others who disagreed with the proposed federal arrangement; including the so-called “anti-federalists.”  Even though the powers delegated to the national government were enumerated, for some it was not enough to ensure the security of liberty. 

 

Taking into consideration the deficiencies of the agreement pointed out by the opposition, a compromise was reached in the form of a Bill of Rights which ended up being the first ten amendments to the new constitution. The first nine amendments emphasized and articulated individual rights, while the 10th amendment put an exclamation mark on a clearly defined balance of federalism. The authority granted to the national government was very specific and very limited in scope, while all other powers were reserved to the states and individuals.  

 

Although they acknowledged some of the potential shortcomings of their efforts, as men always bring with them “their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views”, those great and focused minds gathered together, toiled, and drafted a Constitution that they acknowledged, if not the best, could not have been much better - a document that, they said, “will astonish our enemies”. 

 

However, and unfortunately, with the passage of time, the original apprehensions of the Founders began to emerge and take shape when unwarranted alterations to the new constitution, and interpretations of it, encouraged the predictable inclination of the national government to assert more power and leverage over the states.

 

We have on clear display a national government growing in potency beyond the distinctly defined boundaries given to it, while the influence of state governments is noticeably waning in proportion.

This increased centralization and overreach of the national government left the states to contend with the ambition, avarice and dictates of a national behemoth, putting state sovereignty at risk and the proper balance of federalism at stake.

 

Elected state leaders need to be vigilant more than ever. Although pre-occupied with pressing matters in their respective states, our state legislators must come together and devise strategies to repel the unconstitutional edicts of the national government in order to reclaim their state’s sovereignty and reaffirm the balance of federalism created by our Founders.

National Association of Former State Legislators