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Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Rick Perry Sounds Like Confederate Leaders Defending The 'Slave Amendment'


First Posted: 09/01/11 03:32 PM ET Updated: 11/01/11 06:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) is calling out Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for his full-throated heralding of the 10th Amendment, saying his statements echo rhetoric used by slavery-defending Confederate leaders.

The 10th Amendment says the powers not given to the U.S. government by the Constitution are reserved for the states. It has become a Republican favorite, often invoked to argue that federal health care reform is unconstitutional.

While announcing his candidacy for president on Aug. 13, Perry promised, "I'll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can."

But in a statement sent out to Democratic offices on Wednesday, Jackson -- son of famous African American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, Sr. -- argued that Perry's touting of the 10th Amendment had implications beyond Social Security or health care.

"He thinks that when the Preamble to the Constitution was written and it said one of the nation's purposes was to 'promote the general Welfare,' it didn't mean programs like Social Security -- which he believes is unconstitutional. He apparently believes, as Ronald Reagan did, that the federal government is not the solution. The federal government is the problem," wrote Jackson.

"Truer words or more faithful ideas could not have been attributed to Confederate President Jefferson Davis or his Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stevens [sic.]," he continued. "After all, it was the Tenth Amendment and states' rights that protected the institution of slavery. The words 'slave' or 'slavery' did not appear in the Constitution. The institution of slavery, the Tenth Amendment and states' rights are joined at the hip."

Perry is certainly not alone in his defense of the 10th Amendment. Fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also said he believes the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the amendment.

In his statement, Jackson argues that Confederate leaders looked to the 10th Amendment in the mid-19th century as a way to perpetuate slavery. Even in modern times, he wrote, that amendment "has been used primarily to keep the federal government from bringing equality within and between the 50 states on such critical issues as ending unemployment, providing high quality health care (remember many states filed suit against Obamacare citing the 10th Amendment) and education, justice, business, voting, environmental protection, housing and more."

"Progress in this country for labor, women, minorities and the environment, among other things, has been made by making this nation into a more perfect Union, not by perpetuating a more perfect states' rights," Jackson added. "While Gov. Perry's advocacy of the 10th Amendment and states' rights is not a campaign to restore slavery, that is the origin and history of both."

He continued, "But there still remains a 'chip on Rick Perry's southern shoulder' that is resentful of what Abraham Lincoln, his Union troops -- including colored troops -- and the federal government did to the South in defeating the Confederacy and ending its treasured institution of slavery. That's the Tenth Amendment and states' rights' bad root, and Gov. Perry should be questioned about his understanding of it, as well as the national good fruit that came with establishing a more perfection Union -- Social Security, Medicare, the Wagner Act, the Clean Air & Water Acts and much more."

Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins told The Huffington Post the congressman will be speaking out more on this issue during the 2012 election season, and pointed to the book the two of them wrote called A More Perfect Union, which explores the intersection of race and states' rights.

Perry's office did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

Jackson's full statement:

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY AND THE SLAVE AMENDMENT

Statement By Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2)

Governor Rick Perry wants to be the champion of the Tenth Amendment and states' rights, which grants to the states all rights not explicitly in the U.S. Constitution. He said he wants to "work every day to try to make Washington, DC, as inconsequential in your life as I can." He wants to get the federal government off your back. He thinks that when the Preamble to the Constitution was written and it said one of the nation's purposes was to "promote the general Welfare," it didn't mean programs like Social Security - which he believes is unconstitutional. He apparently believes, as Ronald Reagan did, that the federal government is not the solution. The federal government is the problem.

Truer words or more faithful ideas could not have been attributed to Confederate President Jefferson Davis or his Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stevens [sic.]. After-all, it was the Tenth Amendment and states' rights that protected the institution of slavery. The words "slave" or "slavery" did not appear in the Constitution. The institution of slavery, the Tenth Amendment and states' rights are joined at the hip.

It was the Tenth Amendment and states' rights, the South argued, that gave it the right to secede from the Union in 1861 - an act of treason. But it didn't really secede to protect states' rights. It seceded to protect the institution of slavery - which was protected by the Tenth Amendment and states' rights. And the new Confederate government was honest about its racial foundation as Vice President Stevens [sic.] made clear in his famous "Cornerstone" speech: "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea" (of equality of the races); "its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition." Governor Perry said if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke "printed more money" it would be tantamount to treason, yet he is advocating a philosophy that provided the foundation for actual treason.

From 1789, when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, until 1865 the Tenth Amendment was the dominate legal theory of the Constitution prohibiting the Federal government from intervening in the internal affairs of states to bring an end to the peculiar institution of slavery. Only by adding the 13th Amendment (1865) did the nation overcome the limitation of the Tenth Amendment's pro-slavery argument. The other Reconstruction Amendments rendered the Tenth Amendment useless after 1868 and 1870 respectively with respect to equal protection and due process (14th) and racial discrimination in voting (15th). But from 1870 to the present the Tenth Amendment has been used primarily to keep the Federal Government from bringing equality within and between the 50 states on such critical issues as ending unemployment, providing high quality health care (remember many states filed suit against Obamacare citing the Tenth Amendment) and education, justice, business, voting, environmental protection, housing and more. A state's ability to monitor and enforce just laws and to regulate powerful national and multinational corporations is weaker and less effective than the Federal Government doing so. Governor Rick Perry is using his campaign to attempt to resuscitate this ancient 18th century legal dinosaur and bring it to life again in the modern 21st century.

The limitations and impediment of the Tenth Amendment is the reason FDR on January 11, 1944, called for a Second Bill of Economic Rights to be added to the Constitution. I've also called for a Second Bill of Rights and proposed them through House Joint Resolutions 28-36.

Progress in this country for labor, women, minorities and the environment, among other things, has been made by making this nation into a more perfect Union, not by perpetuating a more perfect states' rights. While Governor Perry's advocacy of the Tenth Amendment and states' rights is not a campaign to restore slavery, that is the origin and history of both. But there still remains a "chip on Rick Perry's southern shoulder" that is resentful of what Abraham Lincoln, his Union troops - including colored troops - and the Federal government did to the South in defeating the Confederacy and ending its treasured institution of slavery. That's the Tenth Amendment and states' right bad root, and Governor Perry should be questioned about his understanding of it, as well as the national good fruit that came with establishing a more perfection Union - Social Security, Medicare, the Wagner Act, the Clean Air & Water Acts and much more.

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