On Tuesday, the Tenth Amendment Center joined with a coalition of organizations to officially launch a campaign to stop NSA spying at OffNow.org (scroll down for action items)
The OffNow campaign will focus on state and local efforts to undermine the NSA’s ability to unconstitutionally monitor phone calls, emails and other private data.
The first phase of OffNow’s multi-step strategy features state legislation that will address NSA spying in four different ways.
First, it will prohibit state and local agencies within their jurisdiction from providing any material support to the NSA. Take Utah for example. The data collection center there uses 1.7 million gallons of water per day. A subdivision of the state of Utah provides that water.
Utah can turn it off.
Second, it will make information unconstitutionally gathered by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court. Third, it will defund universities serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds. And finally, the legislation makes corporations doing business with the NSA ineligible for state or local government contracts.
“Northern states utilized this strategy to resist the horrible Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and it was extremely successful,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “Federal law stripped away the most basic right of due process from any black person accused of being a fugitive slave. Northern states said, ‘No!’ and passed personal liberty laws refusing cooperation with federal slave catchers. Our plan is to use their strategy and resist this blatant attack on the Fourth Amendment.”
The OffNow coalition strategy rests on the anti-commandeering doctrine. In four Supreme Court Cases capped by Printz v. US in 1997, the Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot commandeer state agencies or resources to enforce or implement federal acts.
“The bottom line is that there is nothing in the Constitution that says states have to cooperate with the federal government as it violates your rights,” Maharrey said. “If Congress and the president won’t do anything about this out of control spy agency, the state and local governments will.”
Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center indicate several state legislators have already begun tailoring the OffNow model legislation for introduction in the upcoming legislative session, and we can expect at least five states to move forward with the bill in early 2014.
The OffNow coalition includes groups representing political ideologies spanning from left to right. Coalition partners include the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Antiwar.com, Revolution Truth, Downsize DC, the Libertas Institute in Utah and We Texans. Other groups are expected to join as the campaign gains momentum.
“We face an extraordinary assault on our civil liberties by a power we can never hope to match if we all work in silos. This is why it is ever more urgent that those of us fighting to restore our rights and liberties transcend our political boundaries. Together we are powerful, and together we WILL stop these abuses and force a sea of change in the United States Government,” Revolution Truth founder Tangerine Bolen said.
For more information, log on to offnow.org.