By an eyelash, portions of my community avoided a ban on housecats. I am not kidding. Last Saturday, my wife and I attended a meeting of county commissioners, civic groups, and the public. Its purpose was to explain an upcoming US Fish & Wildlife (USFW) approved regulation regarding protection of . . . a mouse. That’s right, the St. Andrew Beach Mouse. Government biologists couldn’t find one in rural Gulf County Florida, but our sand dunes and climate are perfect, they say, for the little critters. Habitat protection for a never-seen rodent will cost the average homebuilder at least several thousands of dollars in permits, professional Environmental Consultant fees and place further limits on lot clearing, filling, home, and driveway placement. For the time being, housecats are safe.
All of this, we were told, began with the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1978, scotus determined “the plain intent of Congress in enacting the ESA was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.”
Background. In recent times, certain words have been turned far and away from their dictionary meaning. For instance, “racist,” is among the terms casually thrown by Leftists at anyone with whom they disagree. So, I want to be careful here with the words “usurpation,” and “tyranny.” Usurpation isn’t a common term, and tyranny typically conjures images of an enslaved people.
While related, and both are associated with despotic regimes, John Locke defined them thusly: “Usurpation occurs when one is got into possession of what another has a right to. The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. Lawmaking is but a delegated power from the people; they who have it, cannot pass it over to others.”1
On this point, scotus turned John Locke and Article I § 1 separation of powers on their heads when it wrote in Lichter v. United States, “[A] constitutional power implies a power of delegation of authority under it sufficient to effect its purposes.”2
Locke defined tyranny as the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a power to.3 Like any private individual, government, for instance, may not murder or steal, even if congress authorizes the president to do so. James Madison went further than Locke, and viewed tyranny as the combination of legislative, executive, and judicial powers in the hands of the one, the few, or the many.
Regulations from Fish & Wildlife are both usurpations and tyrannical. The USFW doesn’t have legitimate lawmaking powers. When it creates regulations with the force of law, it usurps a power granted to congress. The Constitution doesn’t charge congress with preserving species. Even if it did, government cannot take unconstitutional means to achieve constitutional ends, and the grant of legislative, executive, and judicial power to USFW constitutes tyranny.
Throughout our government, we see what James Madison warned of when he wrote, “temporary deviations from fundamental principles are always more or less dangerous . . . The first precedent . . . familiarizes the people to the irregularity, lessens their veneration of first principles, and makes them an easier prey to ambition and self-interest.”4
If the sovereign people are concerned with saving species, they may amend the US, or, more properly, their state constitutions.
Conclusion. After the community meeting, we drove home in a state of semi-shocked wonderment that this was all happening, that bureaucrats hundreds of miles away could dictate zoning laws in our tiny (16,000 population) county. Sure, Gulf county may take USFW to court, but that’s a cost that shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. Second, since scotus proclaimed that no expense is too great in the quest for environmental justice, a lawsuit is nearly certain to fail. What are the practical limits of a government with discretionary power to ban housecats?
The dice have long been loaded against liberty and free government. In court, precedent carries far more weight than Constitutional principles. The time is long past to stop fighting on our enemies’ terrain and force them to engage us patriots on terrain of our choosing. We must do what must be done; reassert self-government through an Article V convention of the states. We are the many; the elites are the few. Now, it is our turn. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.
- Locke, J. (2010). Two Treatises of Government, Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge: University Press. pgs. 397.
- Lichter v. United States, 334 U.S. 742, 778–79 (1948).
- Locke. pg. 398
- Banning, L. (1995). The Sacred Fire of Liberty – James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. p. 134.