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Topic: Government, Vertical Separation, Matches 7 quotes.



And let me say that all men who say that Congress has no power to restore and defend the rights of her citizens have not the love of the truth abiding in them. Congress has power to protect the nation against foreign invasion and internal broil; and whenever that body passes an act to maintain right with any power, or to restore right to any portion of her citizens, it is the supreme law of the land; and should a State refuse submission, that State is guilty of insurrection or rebellion, and the President has as much power to repel it as Washington had to march against the “whisky boys at Pittsburgh,” or General Jackson had to send an armed force to suppress the rebellion of South Carolina. To close, I would admonish you, before you let your “candor compel” you again to write upon a subject great as the salvation of man, consequential as the life of the Savior, broad as the principles of eternal truth, and valuable as the jewels of eternity, to read in the 8th section and 1st article of the Constitution of the United States, the first, fourteenth and seventeenth “specific” and not very “limited powers” of the Federal Government, what can be done to protect the lives, property and rights of a virtuous people, when the administrators of the law and law-makers are unbought by bribes, uncorrupted by patronage, untempted by gold, unawed by fear, and uncontaminated tangling alliances—even like Caesar’s wife, not only unspotted, but unsuspected: And God, who cooled the heat of a Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace or shut the mouths of lions for the honor of a Daniel, will raise your mind above the narrow notion that the General Government has no power, to the sublime idea that Congress, with the President as Executor, is as almighty in its sphere as Jehovah is in his. With great respect, I have the honor to be Your obedient servant, JOSEPH SMITH. HON. (“MR”) J. C. CALHOUN, Fort Hill, S. C.

Source: Joseph Smith
History of the Church, Volume 6, Chapter 7

Topics: Government, Power; Government, Vertical Separation



Let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know as human rights. Rights are either God-given as part of the divine plan or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government.

I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But this does not mean that we should divorce government from any formal recognition of God. To do so strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny. If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, then they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations, a throwback to the feudal system of the Dark Ages.

Since God created man with certain inalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the nonbeliever can appreciate the logic of this relationship.

A government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. The government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who created it.

Keep in mind that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they themselves have. They cannot give that which they do not possess. . . .

The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man can delegate a power that he does not possess. The creature cannot exceed the creator. . . .

The Constitution of the United States, an inspired document, is a solemn agreement between the citizens of this nation that every officer of government is under a sacred duty to obey.

The Constitution provides that the great bulk of the legitimate activities of government are to be carried out at the state or local level. This is the only way in which the principle of self-government can be made effective.

The smallest or lowest level that can possibly undertake the task is the one that should do so. The smaller the governmental unit and the closer it is to the people, the easier it is to guide it, to correct it, to keep it solvent, and to keep our freedom.

Remember that the people of the states of this republic created the federal government. The federal government did not create the states.

A category of government activity that not only requires the closest scrutiny but that also poses a grave danger to our continued freedom in the activity not within the proper sphere of government. No one has the authority to grant such powers as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing the wealth, and activities that coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise it in my behalf. If I do not have that right, I cannot delegate it.

If we permit government to manufacture its own authority and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Who is to say “this far, but no farther”? What clear principle will stay the hand of government from reaching farther and farther into our daily lives? Grover Cleveland said that “though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.”

Once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth through taxation and providing so-called “benefits” for some of its citizens, it becomes a means for legalized plunder. It becomes a lever of unlimited power that is the sought-after prize of unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to control the machine to fatten his own pockets or to benefit his favorite charity, all with the other fellow’s money, of course. Each class or special interest group competes with the others to throw the lever of governmental power in its favor, or at least to immunize itself against the effects of a previous thrust.

Source: Ezra Taft Benson
General Conference, October 1968

Topics: Class Warfare; Government, Power; Government, Vertical Separation; US Constitution



I see divine inspiration in what President J. Reuben Clark called the “great fundamentals” of the Constitution. In his many talks on the Constitution, he always praised three fundamentals: (a) the separation of powers into three independent branches of government in a federal system; (b) the essential freedoms of speech, press, and religion embodied in the Bill of Rights; and (c) the equality of all men before the law. I concur in these three, but I add two more. On my list there are five great fundamentals.

1. Separation of powers. The idea of separation of powers was at least a century old. The English Parliament achieved an initial separation of legislative and executive authority when they wrested certain powers from the king in the revolution of 1688. The concept of separation of powers became well established in the American colonies. State constitutions adopted during the Revolution distinguished between the executive, legislative, and judicial functions. Thus, a document commenting on the proposed Massachusetts Constitution of 1778 speaks familiarly of the principle “that the legislative, judicial, and executive powers are to be lodged in different hands, that each branch is to be independent, and further, to be so balanced, and be able to exert such checks upon the others, as will preserve it from dependence on, or a union with them.“8

Thus we see that the inspiration on the idea of separation of powers came long before the U.S. Constitutional Convention. The inspiration in the convention was in its original and remarkably successful adaptation of the idea of separation of powers to the practical needs of a national government. The delegates found just the right combination to assure the integrity of each branch, appropriately checked and balanced with the others. As President Clark said: “It is this union of independence and dependence of these branches—legislative, executive and judicial—and of the governmental functions possessed by each of them, that constitutes the marvelous genius of this unrivaled document . . . . As I see it, it was here that the divine inspiration came. It was truly a miracle.“9

8. Quoted in Gerhard Casper, “Constitutionalism,” Occasional Papers from the Law School, The University of Chicago, no. 22 (1987).

9. Church News, 29 November 1952, p. 12, quoted in Hillam, “By the Hands of Wise Men,” p. 48.

Source: Elder Dallin H. Oaks
The Divinely Inspired Constitution
From an address given 5 July 1987, at the Freedom Festival.

Topics: Government, Vertical Separation; US Constitution



3. Division of powers. Another inspired fundamental of the U.S. Constitution is its federal system, which divides government powers between the nation and the various states. Unlike the inspired adaptations mentioned earlier, this division of sovereignty was unprecedented in theory or practice. In a day when it is fashionable to assume that the government has the power and means to right every wrong, we should remember that the U.S. Constitution limits the national government to the exercise of powers expressly granted to it. The Tenth Amendment provides:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”

This principle of limited national powers, with all residuary powers reserved to the people or to the state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, is one of the great fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution.

The particular powers that are reserved to the states are part of the inspiration. For example, the power to make laws on personal relationships is reserved to the states. Thus, laws of marriage and family rights and duties are state laws. This would have been changed by the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.). When the First Presidency opposed the E.R.A., they, cited the way it would have changed various legal rules having to do with the family, a result they characterized as “a moral rather than a legal issue.“11 I would add my belief that the most fundamental legal and political objection to the proposed E.R.A. was that it would effect a significant reallocation of law-making power from the states to the federal government.

11. First Presidency letter of 12 October 1978.

Source: Elder Dallin H. Oaks
The Divinely Inspired Constitution
From an address given 5 July 1987, at the Freedom Festival.

Topics: Government, Vertical Separation



Shift from Individual to Governmental Responsibility

We have seen in the past quarter century a tremendous shift from individual to governmental responsibility in many phases of economic and social life. We have seen a rapid shift of responsibility from the states to the federal government.

Deep in their hearts, the American people instinctively know that great concentration of power is an evil and a dangerous thing.

What lies behind this conviction? Basically, it is an intuitive knowledge that, sooner or later, the accumulation of power in a central government leads to a loss of freedom. Once power is concentrated, even for helpful purposes, it is all there, in one package, where it can be grabbed by those who may not be helpful in its use.

If power is diffused, this cannot happen. This is why the founders of our country carefully divided power between the state and federal levels. Nothing has happened in the meantime to call in question the validity of this arrangement.

Our traditional federal-state relationship, we must never forget, starts with a general presumption in favor of state and individual rights. Under the constitutional concept, powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

Many forces work toward the concentration of power at federal level. It somehow seems easier to impose so-called “progress” on localities than to wait for them to bring it about themselves. Raids on the federal treasury can be all too readily accomplished by an organized few over the feeble protests of any apathetic majority. With more and more activity centered in the federal government, the relationship between the costs and the benefits of government programs becomes obcure. What follows is the voting of public money without having to accept direct local responsibility for higher taxes.

If this trend continues, the states may be left hollow shells, operating primarily as the field districts of federal departments and dependent upon the federal treasury for their support.

It has been truly said by President Eisenhower that, “The federal government did not create the states of this Republic. The states created the federal government . . .—if the states lose their meaning our entire system of government loses its meaning and the next step is the rise of the centralized national state in which the seeds of autocracy can take root and grow.”

Those are strong but true words.

The history of all mankind shows very clearly that if we would be free—and if we would stay free—we must stand eternal watch against the accumulation of too much power in government.

There is hardly a single instance in all of history where the dictatorial centralization of power has been compatible with individual freedoms—where it has not reduced the citizenry to the status of pawns and mere creatures of the state. God forbid that this should happen in America. Yet I am persuaded that the continuation of the trend of the past twenty-five years could make us pallbearers at the burial of the states as effective units of government.

The drift toward centralization of power is not inevitable. It can be slowed down, halted, reversed.

How? By state and local governments insisting that theirs is the responsibility for problems that are essentially local and state problems—insisting upon this, with the knowledge that responsibility and authority go hand in hand.

Inevitably, in centralized federal programs the money is not as wisely spent as if the states participated financially.

The people come to look to the federal government as the provider, at no cost to them, of whatever is needful.

The truth is that the federal government has no funds which it does not first, in some manner, take from the people. A dollar cannot make the round trip to Washington and back without shrinking in the process. As taxpayers we need to recognize these facts; programs which obscure them are contrary to public interest.

The thought that the federal government is wealthy and the states poverty-stricken is a dangerous illusion. The federal debt is now eight times as great as the combined debt of the forty-eight states. It is difficult for the states to make a strong case for assistance from the federal government when anything the federal government spends must come from the states.

The states not only have rights, they also have responsibilities, and they have opportunities.

In the last analysis, we are not trying to protect one government entity from another. We are trying to protect the rights of individual people. If we ever forget this, the whole process of government is pointless.

Source: Ezra Taft Benson
General Conference, October 1958

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Vertical Separation; Welfare



The Latter-day Saints believe that the coming of Columbus to this continent was part of the divine plan by which this land, which had been held in reserve, might become a place of refuge, and asylum for the oppressed and down-trodden of all nations, that freedom of worship, and exercise of conscience, in righteousness, might be enjoyed by all people. We believe that the Lord inspired the framers of our government to give us our legislative, executive and administrative system of government, by which our laws are enacted and enforced. This system, having been given of the Lord, it is not strange that the administration of our civil affairs corresponds so nearly with the organization of the Church, and still differs so greatly in the one essential feature.

Contrast Between Civil And Religious Laws

Our civil laws are enacted by Congress, that body being governed, in framing the law, by the Constitution of our country; by our state legislatures under authority of congress, and our precincts and municipalities under authority granted by the state legislatures. The officers who administer these laws are chosen by the voice of the people. The laws enacted by our precincts and municipalities, and the power of the lesser judges and officers who enforce them are limited in regard to both territorial jurisdiction, and power to inflict punishment. Legislative laws have jurisdiction over all of the people of the state, while congressional laws must be obeyed in all parts of the republic.

Decisions rendered by precinct, municipal or district judges are subject to review, on appeal, and may be carried to the supreme court, whose decision is final. To each of these courts authority is given to enforce its decrees by compulsory means. We may protest, it may be contrary to our idea of right and justice, we may say that we will not submit, but it is all in vain, the civil law compels submission. It may impose heavy fines, and if we refuse to pay, take our property by force to satisfy its judgment. It may incarcerate us in prison, for life if the offense justifies, or even deprive us of life itself.

In contrast to this, the laws which govern the Church are given us by the Lord our God. He is the author of them, he is our lawgiver. He has revealed to us the order of Church government and designated the officers who are to administer its affairs. The ward organizations, with their limited administrative powers, the stakes with their enlarged jurisdiction, and finally the presiding authorities, who have jurisdiction over all of the affairs of the Church, have all been given us by the Lord.

Source: President Anthony W. Ivins
General Conference, April 1923

Topics: Government, Vertical Separation; Law; Rights



The Civil Law Compulsory, The Church Law Voluntary

The purpose of this review, brief and very imperfect as it is, is to call your attention to the fact that the civil law is given for the protection and control of our temporal affairs, while the Priesthood is conferred upon us for the control and development of the Church: that the former differs from the latter in that one is compulsory, the other entirely voluntary. To the civil law all men must submit, regardless of race, creed or condition, while to the priesthood man may submit or not, as he may choose.

When arraigned before Pilate one of the charges brought against the Redeemer was that he was guilty of sedition, in that he had declared himself to be a king. Yes he answered, but my kingdom is not of this world. It was not a menace to the kingdom of Herod, or the empire of Rome. His was the kingdom of heaven, and had nothing to do with the kingdoms of this world, except that he taught his followers to be obedient to them, but the people, failing to distinguish between the temporal and spiritual could not comprehend.

Source: President Anthony W. Ivins
General Conference, April 1923

Topics: Government, Vertical Separation; Law

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