Most world governments have historically given way to tyranny when allowed to seize too much control over its people. However, American citizens, accustomed to our unprecedented freedom, will only endure a “long train of abuses” for so long.  When the federal government behaves more like a king and master than a servant by plundering natural rights through unjust laws, decrees, or bureaucratic policies, it is the duty of state and local officials to stand against it.

For this very reason, America’s Framers established the essential principle of “dual jurisdiction." According to the 10th Amendment, the bulk of governmental authority is retained at the state and local level, making local authorities the last line of defense from a federal government run amok.  In contrast to the tyranny of a monarchy, which deals directly with the people, a more stable form of government that “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed” was established. Representation from the grassroots up –not solely from the top down- is essential for maintaining liberty and stability.

This system of checks and balances will only work if state and local officials have the backbone to enforce it.  Anarchy will naturally occur when the people’s representatives fail them, and are forced to defend themselves from a system bent on absolute control.

In today’s culture, we are intentionally led to believe we must obey an “all-powerful” federal government unconditionally.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Because this absurdity is rarely challenged, we are easily deceived into believing we have no choice but to comply with assaults against liberty. Contrary to popular belief, it is those elected at the LOCAL level that are our last peaceful line of defense against unlawful federal encroachment.

This memorable quote from America’s Revolution explains why the principle is so essential: “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”  

Or as Martin Luther King referred to illegitimate power grabs, “An unjust law is no law at all."

In Matthew Trewhella’s book, The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates, he explains that a government in which local magistrates protect the people from the cruelty of lawless rulers was not a new idea in 1776.  America’s Framers attribute the basis for “dual jurisdiction” to examples woven throughout Biblical accounts and specify these same principles detailed in the Magna Carta. The principle of “dual jurisdiction” is woven throughout our Republican form of government and was established for the primary purpose of protecting the rights of the American people from injustice and tyranny at the hand of their own government.  

Remember the legend of Robin Hood? This classic tale was inspired by the true account of King John’s unjust and immoral acts against the people of England. The cruelty ended only because the Christian noblemen of that day interceded on behalf of their fellow citizens. These noblemen acted in the same capacity as our modern-day state and local officials. The Magna Carta peace treaty of 1215 ultimately ended the reign of evil King John and served as a cornerstone for the U.S. Constitution.

When an unjust law, decree, or policy is imposed by a federal authority, local elected officials must make a choice to either cave in to the authority’s abuse of the people, or stand in opposition to the injustice in order to protect the fellow citizens who elected him or her. But this takes courage.

Were the noblemen in 1215 afraid of coming against the tyranny of evil King John and his henchmen on behalf of their countrymen?  

Do we think for a minute that the Continental Congress –the people’s layer of protection from tyranny by King George- was not terrified of coming against the British military, the most powerful empire on the globe?

Did the Hebrew midwives –responsible for the safety of Israel’s innocent newborns- fear for their lives when they refused Pharaoh’s heinous demand to kill all male Hebrew infants?

What about Daniel, who defied King Darius and prayed anyway, spending the night in the lion’s den?

Of course! All of them were afraid. Their refusal to obey meant certain execution. But they were honorable men and women of courage who were more concerned with obedience to God and the future freedom of others than submission to evil tyrants.

Sometimes, resistance to tyranny comes at a high personal cost. However, the duty rests with all citizens, especially local officials, to recognize when federal authorities have overstepped their bounds. Local authorities are duty-bound to intervene on behalf of their fellow citizens - ALL locally elected and appointed officials, from the school superintendent to the governor.  If their duty is neglected, social instability results and can eventually deteriorate into anarchy when citizens are left with no choice but to defend their own natural rights.

With the federal onslaught on liberty raining down on the states like a hailstorm, the duty of local authorities defending their fellow citizens must become America’s new normal. Citizens must understand their Constitution so they know when liberty is under assault and can encourage their elected officials to stand firm on their behalf.

The people are responsible to elect only those who are serious about upholding their oath of office to protect and defend liberty. Few elected officials are able to muster this kind of courage, yet it must be a requirement for holding public office, especially in this day of blatant federal overreach. Otherwise, candidates need not apply for the job.  

*Article by James Wilson

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