Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Trump's Illegal Invasion

President Trump’s sending federal agents to suppress peaceful protests in Portland, Oregon is an invasion that violates the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States [i.e., the federal government] by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The importance of this Amendment is that it draws a line between the power of the federal government and the powers of state governments. The only power the federal government has is explicitly granted to it by the Constitution. There is no granting of power to the federal government to police the streets of any city or state without an explicit request from the governor of a state, and the process for doing this is set forth in legislation.

When President Donald Trump on his own initiative sent federal agents to police the streets of Portland, Oregon, and those agents apprehended people believed to be engaged in protesting various racist practices of local police forces, he crossed over the boundary set by the Tenth Amendment. Crossing that boundary constituted an invasion by one sovereign entity, the federal government, into another sovereign entity, the State of Oregon. Trump refused to withdraw these agents when the Mayor of Portland and the Governor of Oregon asked him to. In principle and as a matter of legality, this act by the federal government was no different from an invasion of one country by another. It is an act of war, even if no one violently responds to the invaders.

I, along with numerous others, sounded the alarm with a succinct letter published today online by The Boston Globe:

What is going on in Portland, Ore., is an attempt by the federal government to take over the city. It is a precedent that, if not stopped, will be used across the rest of the country. Boston could be next.

John L. Hodge
Jamaica Plain

Note: The qualifier in the Tenth Amendment, “nor prohibited by it to the States,” means that a state’s sovereignty does not extend to violation of the Constitution—as occurred when many southern states refused to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Trump did not even allege that Oregon violated anything in the Constitution.

Personal Note: This is my first blog post in over a year and a half. I have been devoting my time to a book, the publication of which I hope to announce soon.