HENRY MARK HOLZER
July 18, 2013
Eric Holder, Esq.
Attorney General of the United States
Dear General Holder:
I write because of your remarks two days ago at the NAACP convention, reiterating earlier comments, concerning the need to have a "conversation" about and "reexamine" so-called “stand your ground” laws such as Florida’s.
According to your official biography you attended Columbia Law School. (I have practiced constitutional law for about 55 years and for 21 years of that time taught that subject and related ones as a full-time professor of law.)
I assume that while you were at Columbia Law School constitutional law was a required course, and that whatever the jurisprudential persuasion of your teacher he or she did, at least in passing, mention the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. On the chance that you may have forgotten what it provides . . . .
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.
These 28 words express the brilliant core constitutional principle of federalism.
I remind you that Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America contains a specific delegation of express, limited powers to the federal government.
The Tenth Amendment must be read in conjunction with Article I. Together they created a federal government of limited powers, and recognized that all other residual powers are possessed by the states and their citizens.
At Columbia Law School you should also have learned that those residual state powers have long been considered to embrace legislation designed to further the public health, safety, welfare and morals.
Among those residual powers is a state’s right to enact criminal statutes—such as Florida’s and other states’ “stand your ground” laws. That right is protected by the Tenth Amendment, and even a typically expansive view of Article I would not support a federal attempt at overriding those laws.
You at Columbia and President Obama at Harvard Law School should have learned the basic truths of the Tenth Amendment and Article I, and about their firewall against despotic federal government.
If you both have forgotten, I and countless other Americans are here to remind you.
Have all the “conversations” and “reexaminations” you like with captive audiences and elite Washington toadys about state “stand your ground” laws, but keep the federal government’s hands off the Tenth Amendment.
/s/ Henry Mark Holzer