Texas – The dispute between Texas and the Biden administration regarding control of the Texas-Mexico border is intensifying. Federal officials have once again issued a demand for the state to grant Border Patrol agents access to a park that serves as a popular route for migrants entering the United States unlawfully.
In a recent Supreme Court decision, federal officials were granted permission to dismantle a wire barrier along the border. However, this has sparked a legal battle initiated by Texas, as they argue that this action infringes on state sovereignty and compromises Texas’ security measures.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has recently released a letter asserting that Texas possesses the authority to regulate its own border, which takes precedence over federal government control. Governor Abbott claims that the federal government’s actions have violated the Constitution, effectively breaking the agreement between the United States and the states. This accusation bears a striking resemblance to South Carolina’s declaration of secession back in 1860.
Moreover, Abbott’s letter promotes the fringe theory of constitutional law called the “compact theory.” This theory gained popularity among Confederate states during the Civil War and was backed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The theory suggests that the creation of the United States was based on a compact agreed upon by the states, with the federal government being a product of the states. However, this perspective contradicts the widely accepted social contract theory, which maintains that the federal government’s authority comes from the people’s consent, not the states. The Supreme Court has consistently dismissed the compact theory, considering it invalid and inconsistent with constitutional law.
The central issue at the southern border revolves around the question: Does the federal government possess the power to control entry to the borders of Texas? Without a doubt, the answer is yes.
The state of Texas contradicts the landmark Supreme Court case of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) by embracing compact theory and asserting that state government can supersede federal authority.
In 1788, right after the Constitution was ratified, a heated national debate emerged concerning the need for a national bank. Jumping ahead to 1819, the state of Maryland accused James McCulloch, the cashier of the first federal bank in the United States, of neglecting to pay a state tax imposed on the bank. Maryland contended that the federal government did not possess the power to establish a bank since it was not explicitly stated in Article 1, Section 8, also known as the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States outlines the powers granted to the federal government. These powers include maintaining a Navy, collecting taxes, and establishing post offices and roads. In a legal case, Maryland argued that the Constitution did not explicitly grant the power to establish a federal bank and that the government could only do what was deemed “necessary.”
Chief Justice John Marshall responded by delivering a groundbreaking opinion, where he invoked the Necessary and Proper Clause to uphold Congress’ authority in pursuing objectives that align with the Constitution. Marshall’s interpretation firmly rejected Maryland’s limited perspective on the clause.
Marshall argued that the clause permitted Congress to pursue a goal while exercising its enumerated powers in the Constitution, as long as the Constitution did not explicitly prohibit that goal. He famously stated, “As long as the end is legitimate, within the scope of the Constitution, and the means used are appropriate, adapted to that end, not prohibited, and consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, they are Constitutional.”
How does that relate to the current situation in Texas?
Ever since the McCulloch case and subsequent Supreme Court decisions, it has been firmly established that state laws cannot override federal authority. Moreover, although the control of immigration and the border is not specifically mentioned in Article 1, Section 8, it is widely recognized as a power reserved for the national government that cannot be meddled with by the states.
Governor Abbott’s embrace of Confederate ideology and refusal to abide by Supreme Court precedent poses a significant threat to established constitutional principles and federal authority. Texas’ decision to challenge the Supreme Court’s ruling and attempt to overturn the McCulloch decision could potentially unravel decades of legal precedent and undermine the fundamental structure of the United States government.
Texas is challenging the federal government’s authority and deviating from historical precedent with its border stance. It is crucial to uphold the principles of the Constitution and respect the rule of law as the situation continues to unfold. When states refuse to accept Supreme Court rulings they disagree with, it undermines and weakens the rule of law.