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Roots of Cooperative Federalism

by Dan Meador

The following Declaration of Intergovernmental Dependence was signed in Washington, D.C., by representatives of State and local governments on January 22, 1937. It is published on pages 143 & 144 in The Book of the States, 1937 edition, Volume II. This Declaration of Intergovernmental Dependence, along with versions signed in 1935 and 1976, laid the institutional foundation for what today is formally known as Cooperative Federalism (New York vs. United States, et al (1992) 505 U.S. __, 120 L.Ed.2d 120, 112 S.Ct. 2408), a system that employs a third, hidden government tier as the vehicle by which public servants of all stripes operate outside and beyond powers enumerated in applicable constitutions:

"Declaration of Interdependence of the Governments within the United States of America in Common Council Signed January 22, 1937, at Washington, D.C.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a nation to repair the fabric which unites its many agencies of government, and to restore the solidarity which is vital to orderly growth, it is the duty of responsible officials to define the need and to find a way to meet it.

A way does not come of itself. The maintenance of just and efficient government is as intricate, as arduous, and as imperative as any human endeavor. One hundred and fifty years ago our forefathers faced their necessity and formed a new union. They found a way.

And from that beginning in 1787 sprang history's finest example of the democratic form of government -- a government dedicated to the preservation of every man's endowment of life, liberty, and happiness.

Inevitable changes have come. The fundamental pattern of states united for the benefit of all the people remains the same as it was when the founding fathers wove it. But the far-flung tapestry of our many governments has stretched so taut that the fabric has weakened. The essential thread of coöperation too often is lacking.

Now, for the first time since the memorable day when the form of our Constitution was determined, official delegates of the states are gathered together with representatives of their local governments, as good neighbors, seeking to revive the original purpose -- "to form a more perfect union."

It was meant that the states, while creating a nation, should yet preserve their own sovereignties and a maximum of self-government. But now if the claim of states' rights is to prevail, it must be justified by a demonstration of states' competence. When our union was formed, there was no land transportation, nor any remote communication, except by the plodding foot of horse or man. But since that time our society has been revolutionized by the advent of transportation as swift as the wind and of communication more rapid than lightning. Our area has trebled. The number of our people has increased beyond belief.

How have our governments met their mutual problems brought by this modern era?

They have developed a "No Man's Land" of jurisdiction.

In thousands of instances their laws are in conflict, their practices are discordant, their regulations are antagonistic, and their policies are either competitive or repugnant to one another.

In taxation alone, scores of conflicts between federal and state laws exist.

The interstate criminal is a standing headline on Page One of every newspaper.

The forty-eight states pass laws on crime, labor, taxation, relief, corporations, parole, domestic relations, and other questions momentous to our social and economic system, with no thought of harmony. And this discord has been further stitched into our pattern of life by all other agencies possessing the power of legislation.

This is not as it should be.

The trend of federal-state projects, exemplified by social security, demands immediate action if those projects are to succeed completely.

All officials should conduct their own governments properly. But we hold that they must act with earnest regard also to the other units of government. The bonds of good will and the lines of communication which connect our many interdependent governments must be immeasurably strengthened.

Through established agencies of coöperation, through uniform and reciprocal laws and regulations, through compacts under the Constitution, through informal collaboration, and through all other means possible, our nation, our states, and our localities must fuse their activities with a new fervor of national unity.

We, therefore, as representatives of the officers of government here assembled, do solemnly pledge our loyal efforts to the accomplishment of such purposes.

As our forefathers by the Declaration of Independence affirmed their purpose to improve government for us, so do we by this Declaration of Interdependence affirm our purpose to improve government for our contemporaries and for our posterity."


This declaration wasn't published in newspapers across the nation, nor were there open debates concerning implications. Renegade public servants who signed the document did not call for conventions to repudiate the Constitution, nor have their successors intentionally let the cat out of the bag. The ominous instrument serves as a hinge pin in the Cooperative Federalism scheme -- it is through sundry intergovernmental compacts that public servants have postured State and local governments as though they are instrumentalities of the United States on a par with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other insular possessions that are not incorporated in the constitutional scheme.

The document praises the "democratic form of government" without mention of the constitutional republic, a nation under law. It acknowledges that those who endorsed the instrument were intent on "finding a way" to achieve self- serving ends of government almost exclusive of consideration for the unalienable rights of the sovereign people. The chief justifications were efficiency, uniformity, and social welfare. States' rights, not the people's rights, were preserved. Thus, those entrusted with public office effected a constitutional coup -- the constitutional republic, the rule of law, was dead.

Disparity between this document and foundation ideals of the American constitutional republic are easy enough to see by review of the first 182 words of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776):


"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future and security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former System of Government..."


In English-American lineage, the principle of government by consent of the governed was formalized in the Magna Charta (1215), and thereafter matured until the grand American experiment commenced with the constitutional republic established as a nation under law when government of the United States convened under the Constitution in 1789. The Declaration of Independence framed principles subsequently preserved by the Constitution, most notably, that government is established for certain limited purposes. This notion is expressly preserved by the tenth amendment to the Constitution: "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."

The declarations of intergovernmental dependence clearly depart this principle, the 1937 version proclaiming assumed power and purpose from the onset: "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a nation to repair the fabric which unites its many agencies of government, and to restore the solidarity which is vital to orderly growth, it is the duty of responsible officials to define the need and to find a way to meet it."

The proclamation was more than revolutionary in that it departed over seven centuries in the evolution of limited government powers. Government itself was elevated to preeminence, with the rule of law, anchored to foundation law provided by state and national constitutions, being the casualty. Henry W. Toll, executive director of the Organization of State Governments, provided the rationale of the third government tier in his address of the master plan presented at the 1937 conference (Book of the States, 1937 ed., Vol. II, p. 151):

"It is my position that the Council of State Governments does not partake of the character of an association. It is a part of the governmental machinery of the United States. The Port Authority of New York, for instance, which is set up jointly by New York State and New Jersey, is not a part of the government of New York nor a part of the government of New Jersey. Nevertheless, it is a governmental agency, and so the Council of State Governments, set up at the present time by seventeen states, is a joint agency of government. The earmarks of government are that an agency is established by legislative action, manned by governmental officials, engaged exclusively upon work of government, and financed in whole or in part by governmental appropriations.

"The Council of State Governments has all of these characteristics; it is a part of the governmental machinery. We are supplying missing parts, parts which were missing in the machinery provided by the Constitution of the United States on account of the fact that such parts were not needed at the time of the adoption of the Constitution."

This initiative matured sufficiently that in an article by Benjamin J. Jones and Deborah Reuter in the 1990-91 edition of the Book of the States (p. 565), authority of compacts under this third hidden tier of government was described as superior to legitimate State law:

"A compact has both the effect of a statute in each state and the features of a binding, legal contract. Therefore, when a state adopts a compact, the state may not renounce or leave the compact except as may be provided for by compact provisions providing for withdrawal. As contracts, interstate compacts take precedence over laws that conflict with their provisions. When these characteristics are taken into consideration, it is apparent that interstate compacts are the most binding legal instruments establishing formal cooperation among states."

The purpose of the Declarations of Intergovernmental Dependence was thus articulated, and carried into fruition, by way of independent initiatives by elected and appointed public servants. Hidden but ominous government was created in what was construed as the constitutional void -- in ethereal space not addressed by state and national constitutions. Yet the force of compact, effected by contract, would become superior to legitimate state and local law.

Where did this notion originate? The Organization of State Governments emerged from The American Legislators' Association, which was established in 1925. Funding was originally privately donated, with the Spelman Fund (a Rockefeller foundation) providing financing for the legislative organization, and subsequently for the Organization of State Governments (A Letter to Legislators, by William B. Belknap, President of The American Legislators' Association, member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Book of the States, 1935 ed., p. viii).

The Council of State Governments came into existence by way of a Planning Board comprised of twenty-one state officials and twelve consultant members. Six members of the Board were ex officio as presidents of other national associations, the associations being the associations of governors, legislators, attorneys general, secretaries of state, auditors, comptrollers & treasurers, and Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The eight members of the executive board of the Governors' Conference, and the six members of The American Legislators' Association were members of the Planning Board. Consulting members were drawn from research institutions and universities: The Brookings Institution, the Institute of Public Administration, and the Public Administration Clearing House; the universities of Chicago, Columbia, Northwestern, Princeton, and Wisconsin. (The Book of the States, 1935 edition, p. 100)

[CDR Note: Henry W. Toll, Colorado State Senator, served not only as first head of the Council of State Governments, but also as a Uniform Law Commissioner from mid 1930's until mid 1970's. According to Whos Who, Henry W. Toll received an award from Queen Elizabeth for 'meritorius service' to England. For further explanation of the Uniform Law Commission, see Gary Robinson's article AMERICA'S TROJAN HORSE]

Formalization of the Organization of State Governments as a third governmental body was the end product of a progressive initiative that began with establishment of the American Society of Municipal Engineers in 1894. Leadership of the Organization of State Governments acknowledged these affiliate organizations -- as listed below, the first date is the date of founding, the second is the date the organization established offices in Chicago (Book of the States, 1935 ed., p. 140):

Municipal Finance Officers' Association -- 1906, 1932;

International City Managers' Association -- 1914, 1929;

Governmental Research Association -- 1915, 1932;

American Municipal Association -- 1924, 1932;

American Legislators' Association -- 1925, 1930;

American Public Works Association -- 1930, 1932;

Public Administration Clearing House -- 1931, 1931;

Council of State Governments -- 1933, 1933 (headquarters now in Lexington, Kentucky)

United States Conference of Mayors -- 1933, 1933;

National Association of Housing Officials -- 1933, 1933;American Society of Municipal Engineers -- 1894, 1934;

International Association of Public Works Officials -- 1919, 1934;

National Association of Tax Assessing Officers -- 1934, 1934;

National Association of Planning Officials -- 1935, 1935.

This general assault on constitutional government was supported in large part by the American Law Institute, incorporated in 1923 by former President, and at the time, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a future Chief Justice, Charles Evans Hughes, and former Secretary of State Elihu Root. Judges Benjamin N. Cardozo and Learned Hand were among the more influential early leaders. The Institute continues to work closely and collaborate with the American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education. The ALI-ABA collaboration has been responsible for generating the Restatement of Law series, and originals and variations of the Model Penal Code, the Model Code of Evidence, the Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure, the Model Land Development Code, and several other uniform acts adopted by legislatures of the several States, all predicated on the presumption that each of the several States is a territory of the United States.

American Law Institute membership is by election within the law profession, with 3,000 active members drawn from ranks of practicing attorneys, judges and law school professors. Once an elected member completes 25 years, he is vested with lifetime membership, and the elected membership position is opened for a replacement candidate.

To complement American Law Institute-American Bar Association initiatives, each of the several States appoints commissioners to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. NCCUSL was established in 1894. "The organization is comprised of more than 300 lawyers, judges, and law professors, appointed by the states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to draft proposals for uniform and model laws and work toward their enactment in legislatures. Since its inception in 1894, the group has promulgated more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Partnership Act." (quoted from NCCUSL web site)

The extent of amalgamated influence is demonstrated in biographical information for Gene N. Lebrun, current president of NCCUSL (1999): Mr. Lebrun served in the South Dakota legislature, and was Speaker of the House in 1973-74; he is a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, a member of the American Law Institute, an Associate Member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a Fellow of the American Bar Association, a member of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, and serves as his firm's principal contact with Lex Mundi, a global association of 142 independent law firms.

NCCUSL drafting and other work pertaining to uniform laws is headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Preliminary qualification for this closed fraternity of lawyers, judges and law school professors is managed through the Law School Admission Council, a division of the American Bar Association, which establishes criteria for certification of and admission to law schools. Graduating attorneys are required to take qualification bar exams prescribed by State bar associations in accordance with standards developed by the ABA. These are the first steps in the elitist training and qualification process. Beyond these preliminaries, the pyramid of power is amalgamated via the selective control groups.

The American Law Institute and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws retain copyrights on annotations for the various uniform acts adopted by legislatures of the several States. Except for library access, or direct purchase of books or computer-based editions, annotated versions of these laws, are available only through the entities themselves and licensed publishers such as West Publishing even though development is largely supported by tax revenue. This double-dipping is reasonably common practice, and serves as restrictive, if not prohibitive control over development and access to law.

In addition to the elected and lifetime membership, the following are ex officio members of the American Law Institute: The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States; Chief Judges of each United States Circuit Court of Appeals; the Attorney General and Solicitor General of the United States; the Chief Justice or Chief Judge of the highest court of each States; law school deans; presidents of the American Bar Association and each State bar association; and executive officers of other prominent legal organizations. (cited from ALI web site)

Each of the uniform acts constructed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute, and subsequently promoted by the Council of State Governments, is predicated on the premise that the several States that adopt the acts are instrumentalities of the United States rather than semi-independent States of the Union subject only to constitutionally enumerated powers of the United States. In the framework of the Uniform Commercial Code, which is the crown jewel of Cooperative Federalism on the State side, courts of the several States operate in a de facto capacity to accommodate and enforce what amounts to private international law; each of these State courts proceeds in a modern adaptation of what amounts to "due process in the course of the civil law," which is repugnant to due process in the course of the common law secured in each of the several States except Louisiana. Governments of the several States, as is the case for Government of the United States, have operated under executive- declared emergencies since 1933. These proclamations were induced by economic consideration and are nowhere authorized by State or national constitutions.

Here the journalist's laundry list is significant -- the who, how and why? Mention of the Spelman Fund, the Brookings Institute, and other such entities in the 1935 edition of The Book of the States provides a significant and linking clue -- the Cooperative Federalism scheme was hatched, funded, and fueled by the international banking community. As the English title Esquire suggests, the law fraternity bore arms for the international banking community, weaving a complicated web of legalese, usurping power of lawful courts, and otherwise aiding in seizure and/or control of virtually all American assets. As George Washington warned when departing office as the nation's first president, the grand conspiracy made the Constitution of no effect.

The Constitution itself brings the sedition into focus: In Article I §§ 8, the Constitution declares, "The Congress shall have Power [clause 5] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof ... [clause 6] [and] To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States..," then at §§ 10 ¶¶ 1, stipulates that, "No State shall ... coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts..."

Constitutional intent is obvious: If Congress is vested with power to mint coin, and prescribe punishment for minting coin, and the several States are prohibited from minting coin and emitting bills of credit, and are further prohibited from making anything other than gold and silver coin a tender for payment of debt, the obligation for Congress to mint gold and silver coin for a national currency is compelling. Yet Congress ceased minting gold and silver coin, and governments of the several States do in fact compel payment with unredeemable bills of credit drawn on private financial institutions, Federal Reserve Banks.

Via the Federal Reserve System board of directors, the Fed has complete control of the national economy through manipulation of key interest rates and control of financial institution reserve requirements. The entire scheme is predicated on credit of the United States, primarily through "public money" (ledger-entry accounts now chiefly in electronic format) and various bills of credit, including bonds, Treasury bills, Federal Reserve [bank] Notes, and assorted other obligation instruments. All scrip currency and public money exist by virtue of public or private interest-bearing debt. Effect is like the perpetual pull of gravity somewhat on the order of a Black Hole that sucks in all matter within its sphere of influence. As communism and socialism, the kindred Cooperative Federalism is based on a mathematically impossible scheme. In the 1973-1990 period alone, the combined inflation-debt effect reduced American middle and upper-middle class families from 55% to under 40% of the population while increasing poor and low income families from 35% to over 50%. The wealthiest one percent of the nation's families increased financial holdings from approximately 22% to 38% of the nation's wealth. This is the underlying force that has resulted in agonizing rural poverty and cancerous growth of the urban ghetto.

President Andrew Jackson addressed the underlying fraud in 1836 when he vetoed the bill that would have renewed the charter of the Second National Bank: The Constitution does not delegate authority for Congress to establish a national bank. President Jackson's veto rationale has never been challenged. Yet the Federal Reserve System and its member banks obviously exist, so there must be some authority, even if colorable. The key to the mystery is the territorial clause at Article IV §§ 3 ¶¶ 2 of the Constitution: "The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States..."

Congress is deemed to have plenary or near-absolute power over territory belonging to the United States. When operating under general powers enumerated in Article I §§ 8 of the Constitution, Congress may exercise only those powers so enumerated, but under the territorial clause, Congress exercises the combined power of state and national government, much as European governments have, and may do whatever the Constitution does not expressly or implicitly prohibit. By 1926, Congress had abandoned general powers enumerated in Article I §§ 8, and had for all practical purposes moved the whole of Federal government under the territorial clause. Governments of the several States had migrated toward operation as instrumentalities of the United States from about the turn of the century, but formal capitulation didn't occur until March 9, 1933 when Congress was convened in special session to endorse the Bank Conservation Act, H.R. 1491. The definition of the term "State" in §§ 202 of the Act reveals the fraud (Congressional Record - House, for March 9, 1933, p. 77):

"Sec. 202. As used in this title ... the term 'State' means any State, Territory, or possession of the United States, and the Canal Zone."

Variations of this definition are found throughout the United States Code, and uniform laws promulgated by legislatures of the several States. On the Federal side, the law is clear. Application of nearly all surviving Federal law is exclusively to territory subject to sovereignty of the United States under the territorial clause, but through the various uniform acts that come through the Council of State Governments, State legislatures have postured the several States as though they are instrumentalities of the United States on a par with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariania Islands, these entities now operating under a political compact designated as the "United States of America". The Uniform Commercial Code, which is the centerpiece of Cooperative Federalism on the State side, codes of civil and criminal procedure, etc., all incorporate variations of "State" and "United States" definitions that clearly limit application to territory of the United States subject to sovereignty of the United States under the territorial clause.

Obviously, if the Constitution prohibits governments of the several States from issuing bills of credit, or making anything but gold and silver coin a tender for payment of debt, they have no authority to avoid the prohibition and mandate by entering alliances and compacts outside state and national constitutional bounds.

What legitimacy is there to this scheme? Research into the matter has probed deeply enough to find that the entire scheme operates under commercial and maritime presumptions based on municipal corporation structures and authority over commercial entities. If and when State or Federal entity, including courts, issues a liability or executes a judgment, the subject, and defendant, is invariable a juristic or corporate entity, i.e., JOHN DOE rather than John Doe. John Doe is presumed to serve in a fiduciary capacity for the juristic JOHN DOE, and by way presumptions described as constructive trusts, is subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

In many States, Oklahoma included, public servants take two or more oaths. The first, mandated by the Constitution of the United States and constitutions of the several States, is to support the Constitution of the United States; the second, generally known as a "loyalty oath", subscribes to a variation that pledges fidelity to the relatively new creation, the "United States of America". This second entity is not the original United States of America formally established by Article I of the Articles of Confederation (1777), but what would better be described as the Federal United States of America, formalized some time between 1909 and 1918. Judicial officers took high ground in this fraud when they abandoned constitutionally authentic courts to convene private State and Federal court systems.

Please send as far and wide as possible.


Robert Sterling
Editor, The Konformist

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