Constitution Support in Cities, Counties, and States
It’s high time that local and state governments stop doing what we the people will do better ourselves, and start making our rights secure.
February 12, 2021
But governments directly deprive individuals of liberty and property through all government spending that doesn’t secure individuals’ inalienable rights. Also, governments indirectly deprive individuals of liberty and property through all unconstitutional government rules that coerce individuals.
A city, county, or state government officer can secure individuals’ inalienable rights by not respecting any unconstitutional rules, by further limiting governments, and by enacting limits in his charter.
Not Respecting Any Unconstitutional Rules
Rules can be unconstitutional in multiple ways.
One way is by depriving persons of life by enabling abortions.
A second way is by depriving persons of liberty and property through spending.
Government spending projected for fiscal year 2021 as 35% of GDP means that for every 2 choices individuals make, 1 choice is taken away . Unfortunately, governments don’t know what each individual wants and don’t tailor choices as well as individuals do, so governments are making a whole lot of choices for individuals that individuals would make better for themselves . Suboptimal spending deprives people by destroying property.
But people create this property in the first place in exchange for using up some of their time on earth at liberty. So deprivations of property are also deprivations of liberty . In the words of Greta Thunberg, “How dare you!”
A third way rules can be unconstitutional is when rules are created not using constitutional legislative processes but using unconstitutional administrative processes . This is done in all modern administrative governments.
A fourth way rules can be unconstitutional is by exceeding enumerated powers. The powers of the national government are enumerated in the Constitution  and are commonly violated. The powers of state governments are not enumerated in state constitutions , which unconstitutionally denies the people a republican form of government  in their states.
The Constitution is the supreme law, and the Constitution formally requires all government officers to take an oath or affirmation to support  or protect the Constitution . So it’s not just legal but also mandatory that each officer interpret constitutionally himself and not follow or respect any rules that he considers unconstitutional.
So then, local and state government officers should immediately not follow nor respect any unconstitutional statutes, orders, opinions (or any associated regulations, recommendations, or guidance of any sort), whether these rules were created by another government (local, state, or national) or these rules were created by the officers’ own government.
Fortunately, fast, extensive political change  works best always . Change for the better, as advocated here, creates good results and new interests that overcome entrenched interests, making the change lasting.
Systematically Limiting Governments
Deprivations of individuals’ life, liberty, and property can be prevented not only ad hoc by not respecting unconstitutional rules, but also systematically by limiting governments.
Local plus state governments outspend the national government. In fiscal year 2021, governments’ net spends as percentages of GDP are projected to be 9% in localities plus 9% in states, vs. 17% nationally .
To whatever extent that a local or state charter delegates executive power to the state of local executive like the Constitution delegates the executive power to the president, the executive should prevent deprivations of life, liberty, and property by using his power thoroughly .
The executive should organize the structure of the executive branch.
He should lay off and hire in every position not otherwise controlled explicitly in the charter. In doing this, he should triage among scope that he himself considers either ongoing, a temporary obligation, or harmful.
For ongoing scope, he should appoint officers suited to protect the Constitution as they execute the law. For temporary obligations, he should appoint officers suited for selling unproductive assets, managing productive assets, and fulfilling limited, defined obligations. For harmful scope, he should appoint officers suited for shutting down enterprises efficiently.
He should not generate revenue to support spending he considers harmful. He should set operational targets and control spending by department. He should assign tasks and require timely performance.
Even on the scope that’s retained by his government, the executive should continually reevaluate and manage in such a way as to minimize the portion provided by monopolist government people and maximize the portion provided by producers in open competition. Make-or-buy decisions should always promote further development of the institutions of a freer future society in which these choices, too, are made by individuals for themselves .
The executive should screen, review, and insist that his legislature fully repeal each statute that he considers in any part unconstitutional. He should veto any bill that he considers in any part unconstitutional.
To inherently separate powers, each statute should consist solely of rules and sanctions. Each statute should contain no rule that delegates legislative power, that directs the executive branch, that directs the judicial branch, that misleads, or that exceeds the limited, enumerated powers .
Legislators should not try to write into the laws the judgment needed in individual cases, but should rely on judges to do their own jobs on cases. Each statute should be concise enough to leave the whole corpus comprehensible, intuitive, and memorable. The statutes should leave we the people with a good sense of where we stand as we go about our lives freely.
When statutes inherently separate powers, statutes make it so that legislators pass bills, executives enforce statutes, and judges opine on cases. Administrative agencies do not exist. Due process is clear and is readily followed.
The local or state executive should screen, review, and insist that his legislature fully repeal each statute that interferes with customers freely buying or with producers freely selling .
Producers arise quickly, and customers regulate producers excellently . Even immediate abolishment of government schools, for example, will be handled by individual producers and individual customers more helpfully than, say, COVID responses have been handled . Existing private schools will first absorb the increased demand, new schools will at first be modeled on the previous government schools, and new schools will increasingly create quality innovations such as advancing students not based on age but based on achievement.
An executive is not a government salesman. Governments aren’t sold to we the people; governments are instituted by we the people, to secure certain of individuals’ inalienable rights.
Each executive is we the people’s agent, with strong centralized power to limit the government he’s responsible for, and with the constitutional duty to do so in the way that makes our lives, liberty, and property the most secure.
When all the scope that we can do better ourselves is released back to us, then what limited scope remains will be executed better.
The central and singular mission needs to clearly be to make our lives, liberty, and property more secure from each executive’s own government, from other governments, and from tyrants nominally outside governments .
Enacting Charters that Are Limiting
The Constitution is the most-highly-developed and best-proven republican form of government.
Every city, county, or state government charter should rigorously follow the Constitution’s republican-government model of limited enumerated powers ; separated legislative , executive , and judicial powers ; nondelegable legislative powers ; and offsetting powers .
In order to provide republican forms of government in each government, it’s essential to limit the powers enumerated to each government.
New charters that enumerate limited powers could conceivably include temporary powers, but it would be wiser to instead enumerate only the minimum enduring powers. This way, there will clearly be no statutory support for letting preexisting temporary obligations continue without end.
The powers of state governments were understood by the founding generation to be limited .
States would train the militia and appoint officers. States would control criminal law. States would administer civil justice other than in cases concerning national law or concerning disputes between citizens of different states.
States could incorporate local governments and regulate them. States could regulate real property. States could regulate personal property outside of commerce. States could control domestic and family affairs. States could regulate nonagricultural business.
States might or might not regulate agriculture.
No governments would control religion, education, or social services.
The founding generation’s and succeeding generations’ shared understanding of the limits of governments led to small government spending that as a percent of GNP totaled only 4% to 8% through 1913 . These worlds’-smallest governments let the USA’s customers and producers become the archetypal model that brought the world unprecedented wealth and freedom.
The founding generation, through the Constitution, codified both high principles and highly-practical processes for limiting governments.
But the founding generation stopped short of extending these principles and processes universally throughout state and local governments; and also throughout parties, which are the critical control mechanisms by which Progressives now defy the Constitution’s limits . These tasks fall on us now.
The path to freedom is clear. We need not, we should not wait for the national government to improve. With straightforward actions in cities, counties, and states, and ultimately in parties , freedom will be dramatically increased very rapidly.
The time is now.
James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party and rConstitution Papers, and has written in The Federalist, American Thinker, and Foundation for Economic Education. He’s a chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering and a strong background in process design and control.