Nearly 150 years after the end of the War of Northern Aggression, North Carolina’s constitution — in spite of subsequent revisions — still bears the mark of Northern occupancy of the Tar Heel State.
More to the point, clauses of the NC constitution are antithetical to liberty, internally inconsistent, and are a denial of state “sovereignty”, a hallmark of the Founders’ intent.
Consider Section 4 of Article I (Declaration of Rights):
This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.
This clause is inconsistent with the Founders’ intent for a federal government, as revealed through the writings of numerous authors of the time, most notably Jefferson. John Taylor of Caroline devoted much attention to this matter, providing lengthy refutations of ‘national supremacy’. This clause was forced on the state unconstitutionally by the Washington government after the war; that it has never been repealed is a burden that this state alone must bear.
Consider the preceding clause:
Sec. 3. Internal government of the State.
The people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering or abolishing their Constitution and form of government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness; but every such right shall be exercised in pursuance of law and consistently with the Constitution of the United States.
Anyone see a contradiction there? If the state of North Carolina was party to the ratification of the US Constitution, is it rational to think that we could do to that authority what we cannot do to the federal government it created? And does not history show that nullification and secession were clearly a major factor in the united states ratifying a federal constitution, knowing that should it deny state ‘sovereignty’, the states had those options as recourse. Is secession not the very nature of the colonies declaring independence?
Now consider the subsequent section:
Sec. 5. Allegiance to the United States.
Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.
This clause affirms national government supremacy, which was the very crux of the debates that nearly killed the US constitution in its cradle. The Anti-Federalists, in exchange for their acceptance of the document, were given every assurance that the federal government would never exercise supremacy over the states.
We are long overdue for a reversion to the concept of state ‘sovereignty’. The passage of time, with its concomitant erosion of individual liberty by the national government and its ‘special interests’, makes this battle difficult. But we can start within the state, and send Washington a message, by removing the stain of “Reconstruction” from our state constitution.