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Federalist No. 58 and Redress of Grievances

Monday, November 28, 2005

NOTE: The following is a copy of an email I sent to We The People organization. They're an organization that is attempting to petition our government on four key issues. They're promoting and using the motto, "No Answers, No Taxes." in an effort to send their message. The group believes they have the right to withhold taxes until government answers them. I decided to post the email here to get comments from you...
Presented for your consideration:
While reading and researching for an article I'm writing about early U.S. history, I came across the following passage in the Federalist Papers that reminded me of your adventures with our federal government. I thought I'd pass this quotation on for you to see. While I'm positive that you've read this at some point in your research, I thought that it could not hurt to shed light on it. (One can never know for certain if you're aware of it.) In Federalist No. 58, James Madison wrote,
"The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse, that powerful instrument by which we behold ... an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure." (Emphasis added.)
It seems that Madison intended that the peoples' representatives would have the power to withhold moneys from the federal government by voting down or against any spending bills put before them, when tasked by their constituents via a petition for redress of grievances. To support this power, the first amendment made to the Constitution of the United States contained a restraint on Congress that it "shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people ... to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
I don't claim to be a great scholar, but, if asked, I would have to conclude that the people of the several states would need to instruct their state representatives to cut off the funding of the federal government until it responded to their petitions. I have to think that since the Constitution of the United States is a compact between the several states, you may be out of order by directly withholding moneys from the federal government. From what Madison wrote, it appears that you would need to task your state representative to vote against spending measures that support the federal government. Doing this directly may have you over-stepping your bounds. (The House of Representatives ... alone ... supplies ... the support of government.) Individually, your efforts would be daunting, but uniting your voice with the voices of other Americans throughout our country, your cause being just, would effectively shut down the government until it responds to your petitions.
If any of this holds water, one would have to conclude that the proper course of action would be to ask the people of the several states to task their state representatives, via petition, to vote against the supplying of support for the federal government until their petitions were addressed. If state representatives refused to cooperate, they would need to be replaced. Logic dictates this course of action in a representative form of government. People vote with their feet, people vote with their dollars, but when it comes to the federal government, people vote with/through their respective state representatives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

See my response on my website.

1:54 PM  

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