“Tennessee has fought in more wars than any other state. From Davy Crocket, to Robert E. Lee and beyond, Tennessee patriots defended their turf, southern pride and our nation.”-James Agee
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By William Haupt III [Tennessee Watchdog Journalist, Columnist, Author, and Citizen Legislator] –
When the Civil War began in 1861, Tennessee had little interest in secession. Tennesseans did not rely on slave labor and were content being left alone. When the state voted to secede in February 1861, Tennesseans overwhelmingly rejected it. It was not until June of 1861 when Abraham Lincoln conscripted Tennessee soldiers to fight for the North that Tennessee held a 2nd vote and seceded.
Tennessee was the last state to leave the union, and the first state to rejoin the union. Tennessee controls its own fate. During the War of 1812, they sent 1500 troops to deliver a victory to Andrew Jackson. In 1846 they sent 2,800 soldiers to avenge the death of Davy Crocket and fight for Texas independence and statehood in the Mexican-American War. Tennessee writes the rules it plays by.
Tennessee’s independence and willingness to answer the call to duty when others failed to show support for a cause greater than their own, christened them, “The Volunteer State.” After the Civil War, throughout Reconstruction and beyond, Tennessee has marched to the beat of its own drum. True to tradition, Tennessee lawmakers recently passed a law challenging the U.S. Constitution.
After the Civil War, Tennessee, like other Southern States remained solidly Democrat. But not like other Southern states, Tennessee Democrats were “blue-dogs” not segregationists. And as more Northern Republicans moved south for economic opportunity, the state soon became Republican.
The problem in states where one party dominates the politics, especially in those with Republican trifectas, is, those eager for a political career run as members of that trifecta. And this disingenuous practice results in “RINOS”—“Republicans in name only”, invading the state and local legislatures.
RINOS tell voters, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and they are trying to protect them from themselves. More times than not they pass laws that enable them to keep good, “anti-establishment” politicians off of the ballot, fearing voters will replace them with real Republicans.
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On April 13, 2022 Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee, allowed SB2616 to become law without signing it? This simply means he considered the bill too controversial to admit he approved it. It requires anyone running for Congress to have lived in the state for three years to run in primaries.
The new residency requirement is unconstitutional and undemocratic. The U.S. Constitution sets forth eligibility requirements for the U.S. House. Under Article I, Section 2, a representative must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, at least 25 years old, and must live in the state they represent. Neither Congress, nor a state may impose additional eligibility office requirements.
Considering the law is notoriously unlawful, voters can’t help wondering what suddenly inspired the Tennessee General Assembly to add this blatantly illegal requirement to the state’s eligibility rules for national elections? The answer is more obvious than finding fleas on a Tennessee hound dog!
The results from a recent national Emory election poll revealed that Donald Trump sustains an over 50% approval rating in every Southern state, all well as in key mid-western, western and northern states, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. And in almost all these states, Trump backed candidates are ahead in their primaries or have already won them.
Although Donald Trump has “star power” in Tennessee and there has been standing room only at every venue where he has appeared in the Volunteer State, RINOS are working overtime to protect their turf from Donald Trump backed candidates. They are rewriting federal election laws to do this.
One of 12 Republican primary candidates running in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District to replace Democrat House Rep. Jim Cooper, is Morgan Ortagus. She moved here from Washington, D.C., in early 2021 to launch Rubicon Founders, a new value based healthcare investment firm.
Ortagus worked two years for the Trump administration’s U.S. State Department. She is a proven conservative dedicated to protecting the core intrinsic values of the Republican Party. And Donald Trump eagerly endorsed Morgan Ortagus long before she announced she was running. Now that SB2616 knocked Ortagus out of the race, the establishment and the left are singing “Kumbaya.”
In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear when they ruled on Term Limits v. Thornton, that an Arkansas law barring anyone from being placed on the ballot for a congressional seat if they had already served three terms in the U.S. House was unconstitutional. The court concluded; “states do not have authority to impose any qualifications on candidates other than those in the Constitution.”
In reaching its decision, the Court cited a long list of prior decisions striking down district residency requirements. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the state in Chavez v. Evans: “The constitutional qualifications for membership in the lower house of Congress exclude any and all other qualifications. A state can’t add additional requirements to them to disqualify a candidate.”
Even those who were taught common core civics can comprehend that SB2616 has no chance of surviving a legal challenge. The Supreme Court has over-ruled every challenge by every state that cited their 10th amendment rights allowing them to change the requirements for federal elections.
As expected, three 5th District residents have already filed a lawsuit against the state. It looks like Tennessee learned nothing from Dunn v. Blumstein? In 1971, Tennessee ended up in the Supreme Court fighting a suit filed by Vanderbilt law professor James Blumstein. The Court ruled that a new law requiring that people had to reside here for a year before they could vote was unconstitutional.
The purpose of Article I of the Constitution delineating qualifications for Congressmen was simply to preserve the right of selection exclusively for the voters and not for any state or federal political party or government. Regardless of how state legislatures think about any candidate, the decision as to who represents any congressional district is a Constitutional right that belongs to voters only.
RINOs will continue to pass legislation to keep true conservatives out of office. For Tennessee to remain a trend setting conservative state and protector of our 10th Amendment rights, voters must elect “real conservatives”. Tennessee’s greatest threat is not from federalism. It will self-destruct if voters continue to fill local and state legislatures with RINOs instead of electing real conservatives.
“In the South, patriotism and conservative politics are as natural as sweet tea and country music. Anyone who questions or tries to change these traditions is not a true southerner.” -Walker Tracy
William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. His work also appears in The Center Square, The Western Journal, Neighbor Newspapers, KPXJ 21 (Shreveport, LA), Killeen Daily Herald, Aberdeen American News, InsideNova, Kankakee Daily Journal, Monterey County Weekly, Olean Times Herald, The Greeneville Sun and more. Follow William on Twitter @iii_haupt.