Saturday, June 2, 2012

Expanding the Federal Police State (Power)...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

Often over the past four decades I have pondered with great concern what I see as an obvious trend towards increased state militarization of our law enforcement and a slowly expanding control over our lives by the federal government. While we still enjoy liberty on many levels and fronts the myriad of regulations and unnecessary restrictions placed on law abiding citizens has undoubtedly reduced or shutdown many liberties heretofore enjoyed by our parents and grandparents.

While contemplating the trend of the last forty to fifty years (actually go back one hundred years) I stumbled upon the Cato Handbook for the 105th Congress which addressing this quite well. Chapter 17 of the handbook specifically addresses the issue of expanding federal police power. The Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act and the TSA are perhaps the most recent example of this expansion.

All American citizens ought to be concerned over this trend as both political party's have extended and expanded the police powers of the federal state. The following excerpt from the Cato Handbook for the 105th Congress is well worth the read. Every liberty minded individual, regardless of political affiliation will find the read interesting as well as disconcerting.

Congress should; repeal all federal criminal statutes that involve conduct that takes place solely in one state, unless the conduct involves uniquely federal concerns, such as destruction of federal property; and tighten the Posse Comitatus Act so that it proscribes all use of military personnel and equipment, including the National Guard.

Since the 1980s the federal government has prompted the militarization of federal, state, and local law enforcement. That militarization has led not only to well-publicized disasters, such as Waco and Ruby Ridge, but to a widespread increase in violent law enforcement, which has played a major role in alienating Americans from their government. Such baleful consequences are the result of another dangerous trend, the expansion of the power of federal criminal justice far beyond its legitimate constitutional limits. Law and order begin at the top; the most important criminal justice reforms that Congress can enact are those that return federal law enforcement to its constitutional role.

The Constitution specifically authorizes federal enforcement of only three types of laws, all of which involve uniquely federal concerns. The first is based on the congressional power "To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States.'' The counterfeiting enforcement power immediately follows the delegation of power to Congress to "coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin.''

The second congressional criminal power is "To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.'' The third is, "Congress shall have Power to declare Punishment of Treason.'' Although counterfeiting, treason, and piracy clearly involve areas of federal, not state, concern, it is notable that, even in those cases, the authors of the Constitution felt a need specifically to authorize congressional law enforcement.

While the body of the Constitution grants only narrow criminal powers to the federal government, the Bill of Rights, in the Tenth Amendment, specifically reserves to the states all powers not granted to the federal government.

Even the Federalist Papers, which were, after all, a defense of increased federal power, made it clear that criminal law enforcement would not come within the federal sphere under the new Constitution. James Madison wrote that federal powers "will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. . . . The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.''

Likewise, Alexander Hamilton, the most determined nationalist of his era, explained that state governments, not the federal government, would have the power of law enforcement and that that power would play a major role in ensuring that the states were not overwhelmed by the federal government: "There is one transcendent advantage belonging to the province of the State governments, which alone suffices to place the matter in a clear and satisfactory light--I mean the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice.''

Madison, Hamilton, and Jefferson were right to recognize that law enforcement is properly a local matter. As former attorney general Edwin Meese put it, "Federal law-enforcement authorities are not as attuned to the priorities and customs of local communities as state and local law enforcement. In the Ruby Ridge tragedy, for example, would the local Idaho authorities have tried to apprehend Weaver in such an aggressive fashion? . . . More fundamentally, would Idaho officials have cared about two sawed-off shotguns? In the Waco situation, would the local sheriff's department have stormed the compound, or instead have waited to arrest David Koresh when he ventured into town for supplies, as he did frequently?''

Local law enforcement agencies spend local tax dollars and are directly accountable to local voters. In contrast, federal law enforcement agencies spend from a vast pool of "other people's money'' and are subject, at most, to very indirect democratic control. It should be no surprise that so much federal spending on crime goes to programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education and the McGruff Crime Dog, which sound good on the Senate floor but have been proven to be failures by social scientists.

The bulk of federal law enforcement activities is not aimed at stopping the crimes against persons and property that concern most Americans. Instead, federal enforcement involves primarily statutory offenses: controlled substances, firearms, gambling, and the like. In many cases, the federal laws regarding victimless crimes are much more severe than state laws, as if the people of the 50 states were of such poor moral fiber that they are not "tough enough'' on marijuana cultivation or possession of unregistered firearms.

The misuse of two constitutional powers has been the basis for the overexpansion of federal criminal power. The enumerated powers of Congress "to lay and collect taxes'' and "to regulate Commerce . . . among the several States'' have been turned by specious interpretation into congressional powers over issues that have nothing to do with taxes or with interstate commerce.

Recently, in United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court reminded Congress that the interstate commerce clause is not a grant of general police powers and that "states possess primary authority for defining and enforcing the criminal law.'' Even after the Lopez decision, though, the huge infrastructure of federal criminal law remains in place. Today, there are more than 50 different federal law enforcement agencies, 200 federal agencies with some law enforcement authority, and more than 3,000 federal crimes.

Guns and drugs (two quintessentially nonfederal concerns) have been the primary engines for a massive expansion of federal law enforcement. From 1980 to 1992, the number of criminal cases filed in federal courts rose 70 percent; drug cases and firearms cases both quadrupled. {Read More}

The above document was written fifteen years ago, the threat has only increased and continues to increase during the Obama years.

Via: Liberty Maven


  1. Excellent find! Government has turned into a giant blob, slowly growing and eating everything in its path.

  2. What happens when State authorities cannot, or will not enforce the law, or State leaders are breaking the law themselves?
    Al Capone had the Mayor, Governor, and the judges paid off to assure he could continue his criminal activities. When George Wallace refused to follow the Constitution, the feds had to step in to ensure the rights of citizens. There are many examples when the feds have to step in to ensure the protection of Constitutional rights for all citizens.

    1. Why don't you just come cleans and fully admit to what you're advocating, more and more federal control over everyone's lives?

      I merely pointed out the dangers inherent in federal control. I never advocated no federal control, just reasonable as the constitution provided for. The rest should be reserved to the states, as the Constitution clearly states.

      Your faith in Leviathan is troubling indeed anon. The examples of government run amok are plentiful if you only look. The Patriot Act and Homeland Security are but two recent examples. ObamaCare is another.

    2. Anon: What happens when Federal authorities cannot, or will not enforce the law, or Federal leaders are breaking the law themselves?

  3. Great post. It is tragic that MANY "conservatives" don't understand that Leviathan has grown demonstrably due to Republicans. I caught an interview with a Cato scholar recently on Jerry Doyle's show and he mentioned that almost 50% of Federal agencies were created by Republican administrations. But, if you listen to the blabbermouths on talk radio (Rush and Sean Hannity) every single problem in this nation has been caused by Democrats...

  4. You chose the topic, the article, and made your comment about it. No where did you, or the article make the point I made, which has to be made in the face of the false argument about States rights, which Republicans are so adamant about.
    My comment was asking you what should be done, if State laws infringe on Constitutional rights. No answer, just a false accusation against me. Well done.

    1. No false accusation, other than in your own mind. My position is well know, supported by the constitution, and I never implied federal law is unnecessary.

      The issues are complex, I stand on the side of limiting federal authority and militarization of the police {state}to the greatest degree possible. I recognize the dangers in increasing power in the hands of a few elected officials.

      If you do not favor greater federal controls as I stated I believe you do then just say so and set me straight. Make your position clear man.

  5. I believe in a government big enough to enforce its laws and serve its people. We have more laws. We have more people. Implementing the articles of the Constitution, is expensive. I agree our government is bigger than it needs to be, but you have already, falsely, prejudged me on that so it's your mistake and not worth discussing.
    You pick an article that's 15 years old by an author not readily known. His article is flawed, false. The only three reasons he cites (from the Constitution) have been updated by 230 years of federal law, which are supported by the Constitution through the Supreme Court, our third branch of government.
    I don't read anywhere that you accept any other reasons for federal involvement, than what the author wrote. It's you who needed to make your position clear.
    If you want to discuss States rights and the size of government, you have to acknowledge the size of the job is bigger and different than it was 230 years ago. I wonder why you did not make those points, so I did.

    1. Fair enough.

      There are many sources that will support this man's premise, and I believe you know it.

      I believe the size of the federal government is too large, too intrusive, and too corrupt.

      Liberty is worth guarding, THEREFORE recognizing the dangers of A too large and intrusive government, either by legislation or regulation can be dangerous.

      Are we there yet? Perhaps not. But in my opinion only a fool would think it isn't possible but what we might get there.

      And by the way, I am not saying by the previous statement that you are a fool. I know you are not.


As this site encourages free speech and expression any and all honest political commentary is acceptable. Comments with cursing or vulgar language will not be posted.

Effective 3/4/18 Anonymous commenting has been disabled and this site has reverted to comment moderation. This unfortunate action is necessary due to the volume of Anonymous comments that are either off topic or irrelevant to the post subject.

While we appreciate and encourage all political viewpoints we feel no obligation to post comments that fail to rise to the standards of decency and decorum we have set for Rational Nation USA.

Thank you for your understanding... The management.