Federal Government Overstepping Its Constitutional Bounds?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," May 15, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: We're back with our special, "The 'Civilest' of Wars." It's part of "The 9/12 Project," how do you take your country back.

I'm going to tell you here in just a few minutes. Right after the bottom of the hour, we're going to — we're going to share with you what somebody is doing in Montana and how it is now spreading to other states. And there is a step-by-step instruction program that we've given you.

The judge is here. Judge Andrew Napolitano is with us.

Video: Watch Beck's interview

And you actually wrote something for our newsletter — if you go to GlennBeck.com and just sign up for the free newsletter. It's a step-by- step: what do you have to do to help grab your state's rights.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, basically, the essential problem that we all confront is that the government doesn't obey its own laws. And the supreme law of the land which is the Constitution, which established a footprint for the government out of which it may not go, has been violated since day one.


NAPOLITANO: The Congress is not a general legislature. It's limited to 17 powers. But from George Washington to Barack Obama, congresses, presidents and — I hate to say this — courts have allowed it to grow and grow and grow.

BECK: Oh, yes. It's out of control. So, hang on, because I want to come back to this here in just a second. But I would ask you — did you look at me like I was a madman?

NAPOLITANO: I don't want you to go to jail.

BECK: I don't want to go to jail.


BECK: I don't want to go to jail.

NAPOLITANO: I will defend you.


NAPOLITANO: With every fiber in my body, but I don't want you to go to jail.

BECK: If California — and Carl, you were saying, what other states are they talking about now?

REP. CARL WIMMER, UTAH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE: There are several states, Glenn.


NAPOLITANO: Massachusetts and New Jersey.

WIMMER: Absolutely.


WIMMER: Both of those states as well as I heard a couple of others.

BECK: America, let me just be straight: Come on! You won't go with me to jail before you pay for the crazy crap Massachusetts has been doing over the years? You want to bail their butts out? Let them fail, man! California? New Jersey?

Come on! Let's buy San Quentin together and let's all go to jail.


BECK: OK. I want to talk to Kevin Gutzman, because you are — you're like chief expert on the 10th Amendment. I — what's the 10th Amendment? The 10th Amendment is the one that says if it's not listed, if it's not in these nine, you can't do them, it goes to the state, right?



GUTZMAN: So, the — as Thomas Jefferson said in 1791, the underlying idea of the federal Constitution was that there were some few powers that were being granted to the central government and the rest were being retained by the states — which you may recognize as the principle that the Revolution was fought for. It wasn't the British were imposing bad policies; it's they were imposing policies at all.

BECK: Right.

GUTZMAN: And so, the Americans said, no, we want self government through our colonial, now state legislatures. And when they came to write a federal Constitution, they retained the same principle.

BECK: The idea behind America was different because it was, I had the power in my own local — the strongest government was the local community and then the state was a little less strong and then the federal government was the least. We've flipped that on its head, right? That was the principle.

GUTZMAN: Completely.

And, in fact, Thomas Jefferson answered people who said, you know, the federal government, the American government is weak because it doesn't have a big army, a big navy, high taxes like a European power. And Jefferson said, No, this is exactly our strength. Americans love their government because it doesn't do anything to them.

BECK: Right.

GUTZMAN: But over time — as the judge was saying earlier — we've come to have this opposite model where now it seems that the government is able to decide how much you get paid, who your doctor is going to be, whether you can buy a gun, what you can — anything it wants to.

BECK: Raise your hands — who feels like you've been really consulted on any of these things — like the health care, and all the — do you feel you've actually been consulted on this?

So you feel like it's been imposed, right?


BECK: Because that's the way I feel. I feel like, wait a minute, I'm willing to have a discussion on some of these things, but they just happen in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden, we have it and they're just — now, they're talking about health care. And we're like, "Wait, wait, wait. What healthcare? What is it even going to look like?"

And they're already talking — again go back to the blackboard — they're in bed with special interests. They're in bed with General Electric, who has the systems for health care. This is just everybody in bed together. It's the corruption.

But when I think of the 10th Amendment, I think, OK, well, it would be great if we could get closer to the people to solve corruption. But then, I'm reminded of Chicago. I mean, there's a local government that has been dirty since the beginning of time.

How does the 10th Amendment help us clean out the hornet's nest of corruption?

GUTZMAN: Well, the 10th Amendment says, essentially, the important functions will all be controlled by people who are near you, people whom you know.

I don't know about you but I know my state rep. I don't know my U.S. rep. He comes to see me when it's election time and when it's not. And I think it's true of most people.

And besides that, you can see what the effects are of policies that are adopted in your state legislature. While, when they pass a bill in Washington, I have no idea what effect that has in Alaska. So, spending goes on without any input for me.

And so, the bottom line is that there can be more citizen awareness — in theory at least — and this is certainly the way it used to work when the system was closer to the one they created in the first place. There could be less corruption. There could be more citizen control of these things.

And I think, also, another beauty of this is, you know, every four years, we have a presidential election cycle in America, and you hear all the talking heads complain that not enough Americans vote. People aren't involved. But why would they be involved? It is so distant. You're only one of 300 million people and one of 100 million voters.

But on the other hand, again, if the matters that were supposed to be left in your state legislature actually still were, you could get out and organize in your precinct and in your town and actually affect the way the government affects you. That's why Jefferson thought it was the best model in the world.

BECK: It doesn't you know, I think I vote every time, I try to be involved. But, you know, it feels like after a while, you know, you call, you tell, you vote, you do, and then, you feel betrayed every time. You're like, what — I mean, why does it make a difference?


GUTZMAN: Of course, another portion of the problem we have is that, in the federal system, often, the federal judiciary will take control of issues..

BECK: Yes.

GUTZMAN: ...that weren't supposed to be given to it and just decide them regardless what the voters want.

BECK: It's you people, Judge!


NAPOLITANO: It wasn't me.

BECK: You, people!

GUTZMAN: No, he was a state judge. Not the bad guys.

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