The “supremacy clause” is dealt with in Mack/Printz, in which the U.S. Supreme Court stated once and for all, that the only thing “supreme” is the Constitution itself. Where by the powers, the Sheriff reigns supreme above the president.
Does there remain any governmental Horatius who can stand in the gap; who can lead the Battle for America and restore the Constitution? There is. Lock and load, mount up and prepare for the return of the Sheriff.
My guess is that in the minds of many Americans the sheriff is an antiquated figure who lives in the movies. In the older movies he is the hero; he is Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” awaiting the train that will bring killer Frank Miller back to town. In the new ones, he is the southern sheriff, even bigger than Rosie O’Donnell, sneering, sadistic, racist, violent, etc. He has no modern relevance.
But now here comes Sheriff Richard Mack, elected and re-elected in Graham County, Arizona, where he served for eight years. During his tenure, three federal agents came to a meeting of Arizona sheriffs and told them in certain terms how they would be dragooned as unpaid federal bureaucrats and administer the new, federal Brady gun registration law.
The law was named of course for Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who was severely wounded in the immensely suspicious attempt to assassinate the President. Since then, Mrs. Brady has become a leader of the campaign for Nazi gun confiscation. I don’t know whether she was as crazy before the shootings as she is now. Just one more increment of lunacy and they would have to lock her up.
Richard Mack and the other Arizona sheriffs at the meeting rebelled. Sheriff Richard says the language he heard – in which he did not participate – could not be repeated in the presence of genteel Christian ladies, so we can’t tell you here what the sheriffs said. But Sheriff Mack did take the government to court. He sued the United States, and Sheriff Jay Printz of Montana joined him as plaintiff.
On June 27th, 1997, the sheriffs won; in Printz v. U.S. (521 U.S. 898) the U.S. Supreme Court struck Brady down. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the ruling for the Court, in which he explained our system of government at length. The justly revered system of checks and balances is the key:
“. . . The great innovation of this design was that ‘our citizens would have two political capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the other’” – “a legal system unprecedented in form and design, establishing two orders of government, each with its own direct relationship, its own privity, its own set of mutual rights and obligations to the people who sustain it and are governed by it.” (P. 920)
Scalia quotes President James Madison, “father” of the Constitution: “[T]he local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.” The Federalist, No. 39 at 245.
Again and again, Justice Scalia pounds the point home (page 921): “This separation of the two spheres is one of the Constitution’s structural protections of liberty:
‘Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front.’. . .” Gregory, 501 U.S. at 458.
He quotes President Madison again: “In The compound Republic Of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments.
Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.” (P. 922)
No one could make this any clearer. The primary purpose of the Fathers was to prevent someone from grabbing all the power. When that happens, they knew, the result is arbitrary, confiscatory, government, the kind Thomas Jefferson described in the Declaration of Independence. We would call it totalitarian.
Madison explains: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788.
To prevent that from happening, they divided the power. First, they divided the federal power into three parts: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. They would bicker among themselves, so that no one of them could seize all the power the Constitution grants to the federal government.
The Founders divided the power even more. They set the limited power the Constitution grants the “general authority,” Madison’s term for the federal government, against the vast residual powers of the states.
Each sphere of government, state and federal, would be supreme in its own sphere. Neither could control the other. Each protects itself from intervention by the other. Each has its own laws and rules.
Madison says this: “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” Loc. Cit.
What does all this mean today in the Battle for America? Sheriff Mack says it proves that the sheriff is the highest governmental authority in his county. Within that jurisdiction – inside his county – the sheriff has more power than the governor of his state. Indeed, the sheriff has more power in his county than the President of the United States. In his county, he can overrule the President and kick his people out. Remember, the President has few and limited powers.
What? The sheriff can do that? He’s not just a character in a movie? That’s right. Not only can the sheriff do that; sheriffs have already done that, more than once.