Commentary on "Federalism" Executive Order 13083

By Glen Burdue

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Not a joke, folks; I've been aware of this one for a few days.
-- Dale Seago

President Clinton has just written a dangerous new Executive Order (EO), on "federalism" which appears to be a major step toward reducing state legislatures to a mostly ceremonial status, with most major laws ("policies") enacted by federal agencies.
To find it, go to: Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Leave the setting at: "1998 Presidential Documents". Type the word "federalism" on the search line and click on "Submit".

Clinton and previous presidents have written many dangerous EOs, but this is the first I have been aware of, for which there is time to stop it. My congressman's staff is researching the facts for me, but I believe the Congress has a limited number of days in which it can stop executive orders -- and after that they cannot kill an EO except by passing legislation over a presidential veto.

Because of the blatantly unconstitutional usurpation of state powers, this EO should be of great interest to all state legislators, as well as congressmen and citizens. If enough people become aware of it quickly enough, it may be possible to stop it.

This EO gives authority to federal and "independent agencies" (Sec. 6) to implement policies which supercede state law if "there is a need for uniform national standards" [Sec. 3(d)(3)]; if the federal agency can govern more cheaply [Sec. 3(d)(4)]; if the federal agency can better protect "individual rights and liberties" [Sec. 3(d)(5)]; or if the agency believes the state is unable to implement a policy [Sec. 3(d)(7)].
The first section and part of Section 2 appear to be a destructive rewrite of familiar Constitutional principles; the remainder of the EO specifies how Constitutional principles will be violated.

When you read this EO, consider the validity of the following speculations: for Section 3(d)(2) we should remember that "protecting our water supply" is one of the most recent excuses for violating our rights, e.g., water must be protected beginning with where it falls within the watershed. So I guess farmers better be sure no fertilizer is washed off their fields, and homeowners better be sure none runs off their lawn. If Section 3(d)(2) gives federal agencies authority over every spot of ground on which rain falls, then federal agencies will control the entire country.

Sec. 3. (d) (3) Isn't the "need for uniform national standards" rather broad? Would that include the need for all children to wear school uniforms? Would that include the need to install exactly the same high-priced smoke alarm system in every house where there are children?

Sec. 3 (d) (4) Federal agencies can take over anything that they think they can run cheaper. Isn't this similar to saying that, if fascism is the most efficient system of government, then to get efficiency, we must have fascism?

Sec. 3 (d) (5) The fox will guard the henhouse: historically, the U.S. government has been somewhat less than noble, such as the cases of Japanese internment camps in WWII, genocide of American aborigines as their land was stolen, the Muskeegee experiments, etc. Now federal bureaucrats will decide whether they can better "protect" our rights than our local government does.

Sec. 4 Federal agencies will govern. Representatives of state and local government (but no individuals) can register complaints but no action needs to be taken on those complaints. There will be no consideration of individual rights, and there will be no mechanism to reimburse individuals who are harmed.

Sec. 5 Sets up waivers. This is necessary to enable rewards for special friends in local government who are willing to do what they are told and don't make waves.

I have already been told by my Congressman's chief of staff that the best way to stop an EO is not to kill it, but to cut off its funding. I disagreed and he later admitted that funding would later be provided. Let's contact our state legislators and find out if they believe it would be more "efficient" to allow Federal agencies to override state law.

Let's also call our Congressmen and Senators immediately to protest this executive order.

Please take action now!!

This note originated with the GunsSaveLives Internet Discussion List, which is governed by an acceptable use policy: or available upon request. The Libertarian Enterprise would also like to thank,, and who passed the message on to us. GunsSaveLives (GSL) is a private unmoderated list. The owner takes no responsibility for content. All rights reserved.

The Libertarian Enterprise
Number 38, June 19, 1998


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