Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “[John] Taylor stands up and says: Okay, let me swat this thing out of the park and let’s pass these resolutions. He answers all the arguments. One of the… primary arguments that he has to answer is whether or not the states that have ratified the U.S. Constitution are equal parties to the document. And if they are, why would they ever ratify something that they had no equal part in determining the extent of the powers of the document, or the government that the document created? This is Taylor’s entire argument, that we never would have ratified if we were told that only your little Supreme Court and the Article III judiciary branch got the final say. That’s not what it says.”
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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
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Mike: Let’s go to the next famous epoch in American history that has a lot of bearing on today, 1798, Alien and Sedition Acts, nullification and interposition. Jefferson is Vice President of the United States. He can’t go to the Virginia Assembly and advocate on behalf of the Virginia Resolution for interposition. Under the Alien and Sedition Acts, he’ll be guilty of sedition. Adams will have him arrested and thrown in the clink. Madison can’t do it because Madison is a member of Congress. There are a couple of others who can’t do it for the same reason. So who in dude’s name can go to the Virginia Assembly, deliver the Virginia Resolution, which was primarily authored by Madison, on interposition? Who can go do this? The only person left that can actually carry the day and flesh the argument out in his head was Taylor.
Jefferson writes a letter to Taylor and says: Man, you’re going to have to do this. Taylor says: I already knew you were going to ask me. I’m ready. So on December 10, 1798, Taylor goes in and makes a speech. He hands the resolutions in as if he has written them. Even though Madison has written them, he hands them to the Virginia Assembly because throughout the rest of the debate, they are referred to as the Taylor Resolutions. That’s their official name. They go through this and Taylor gives the first speech, laying out why the Alien and Sedition Act is unconstitutional, why Virginia has to act, yada, yada, yada. Then he sits down. It’s not a very long speech. It’s in the book. You’ll be able to read it for yourselves. He sits there and he listens to the counterarguments that are presented for a week.
Then after the last counterargument has been made, Taylor stands up and says: Okay, let me swat this thing out of the park and let’s pass these resolutions. He answers all the arguments. One of the arguments that he answers — as a matter of fact, the primary argument that he has to answer is whether or not the states that have ratified the U.S. Constitution are equal parties to the document. And if they are, why would they ever ratify something that they had no equal part in determining the extent of the powers of the document, or the government that the document created? This is Taylor’s entire argument, that we never would have ratified if we were told that only your little Supreme Court and the Article III judiciary branch got the final say. That’s not what it says. That’s not what it says. That’s not what you guys told us. If that’s the case, you guys lied, basically.
So he makes the argument in the last day of the debate. I just want to read the last maybe ten minutes of it. It’s thrilling. He makes the argument of why the states not only should but are duty-bound, they have to interpose. For those of you that have been told that because James Madison wrote a letter in 1832 that nullification is off the table, [mocking] “Because Madison said in 1832 that the Virginia Resolution…,” Madison wasn’t the brains of the operation; Taylor was. Madison was not in the assembly in Virginia; Taylor was. Madison can write all the letters he wants. It’s Taylor that made the argument. It’s Taylor that won the debate. And interposition is Taylor’s handiwork. Yeah, you can refer to Madison, but let’s look at what the Virginia Assembly did and who led the day: John Taylor of Caroline County.
Here’s a brief snippet of why you people that are state legislators, and those of you that want to do something about Obamacare and whatever other federal atrocity, why you are duty-bound, we are all duty-bound to act in our states and do something. You know, if we did this often enough, the Feds would either one, get tired of it and stop passing these monstrosities, or two, the state legislatures would get tired of it and say: Okay, that’s it, we’re out. We’re going to start a new union and we’re going to do it under pretty much the same constitution, except we’re going to have a clause thrown in there saying it’s a compact and we do have the right to hold our own councils and tell you tinhorn tyrant dictators in Mordor to go pound sand. We don’t have to live by the edict passed on us by a majority of states that we don’t live in, unless it’s for a very specific purpose, and it probably won’t be. Got it? That’s why this is important. From December 20, 1798, just a part of Taylor’s argument on the very subject that is at hand:
Suppose a state should by law violate the Constitution. Would there be no other remedy but for the people to petition that state or for the judges of that state to decide upon the constitutionality of the law? Why would there be another remedy? Because the Constitution, having bestowed rights upon the General Government, a violation of the Constitution which should infringe those rights would justify that Government to take measures for its own preservation, because the Constitution does not leave the remedy to depend upon a petition of the people to the aggressor. Reverse the case, said he. If Congress should unconstitutionally infringe rights reserved to the state governments, should they depend upon a petition of the people to the aggressor for their defence? They were then conducted, he said, to this clear position, that as Congress holds the rights bestowed by the Constitution under that, and independent of the states; so the states hold the rights reserved by the Constitution under that, and independent of Congress; and of course that each power possesses the further right of defending those constitutional rights against the aggressions of the other; for otherwise it would follow, that the power having constitutional rights, to maintain which was however unconstitutional, must presently disappear.
He said, that the last argument in favour of the sedition-act had been drawn from the law of Virginia respecting treason, which had been read.
With respect to this law, he replied, that the same arguments applied, which he had before used, to show the impropriety of quoting state laws, to justify congressional. It would be as just to say, that a state could pass laws for raising fleets and armies, because Congress had done so, as that Congress could infringe the liberty of speech, because the states had done so. The states are expressly forbid to do the one, and Congress the other. But this reference to the treason law of Virginia furnished a strong argument to prove the unconstitutionality of the sedition-act. The law evidently considers sedition as being one species constituting that genus called treason, which was made up of many parts. It therefore accurately expresses the idea of Virginia of the word “treason,” and shows how she understood it, as used in the Constitution. By that, treason is limited to two items, with the punishment of which only, the general government is entrusted. Hence it was evident, that Virginia could not have conceived that Congress could proceed constitutionally to that species of treason called sedition; and if this was not the true construction, what security was derived from the restriction in the Constitution relative to treason? Congress might designate the acts there specified by that term, and they might apply other terms to all other acts, from correcting which, that clause of the Constitution intended to prohibit them; by doing which, as in the case of sedition, they might go on to erect a code of laws to punish acts heretofore called treasonable, under other names, by fine, confiscation, banishment or imprisonment, until-social intercourse shall by hunted by informers out of our country; and yet all might be said to be constitutionally done, if principles could be evaded by words.
Mr. Taylor concluded with observing that the will of the people was better expressed through organized bodies dependent on that will, than by tumultuous meetings; that thus the preservation of peace and good order would be more secure; that the states, however, were clearly parties to the Constitution, as political bodies; that rights were reserved to them, which reservation included a power of preservation; [Mike: I cannot read that sentence more often than it needs to be read.] that the legislature of the state was under a double obligation to oppose infractions of the Constitution, as servants of the people…
Mike: What are we learning here? Again, compact theory, very simple 18th century stuff. Everyone alive understood this, not the dunderheads that are legislators and quasi-statesmen today, but every statesmen alive understood this. Some of them may not have wanted to act on it, but they understood it. What else are we learning? [/private]
We’re learning, as he gets into his closing stanza here, his crescendo, if you will, that the State of Virginia had a duty. They were duty-bound. Their legislators swore an oath. They were duty-bound to oppose this infraction on the Constitution because the Adams administration had delved into issues, had delved into powers that were reserved by the states. The states then had a power of preservation. This is just brilliant. This is inarguable. This is the same case that Albert Taylor Bledsoe makes in Is Davis a Traitor – Was There a Constitutional Right to Secession Previous to the War of 1861? To me this sounds so simple, so straightforward that even a caveman in a GEICO commercial could do it. Maybe that’s just me. Let me finish up because we only have one sentence left. This is how he finishes the argument:
…that the states, however, were clearly parties to the Constitution, as political bodies; that rights were reserved to them, which reservation included a power of preservation; that the legislature of the state was under a double obligation to oppose infractions of the Constitution, as servants of the people, and also as the guardian of those rights of sovereignty, and that qualified independence reserved to the state governments by the Constitution; and to act up to this duty was the only possible mode of sustaining the fabric of American policy, according to the principles prescribed by the American Constitution.
Mike: That is just brilliant, powerful. Bear in mind that he’s making this argument after eight days of his previous argument being assaulted by the opponents of it in the Virginia Assembly.
End Mike Church Show Transcript