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Understanding Federal Tyranny, by Matt Erickson

Book review by Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Matt Erickson is a self-trained constitutional scholar who has written a number of brief, well-documented books. They are all free in the public domain with the purpose of attempting to educate the public about the document that governs the actions of our officials and members of Congress.  They are available at his web site This writer had the pleasure of reviewing his latest effort, Understanding Federal Tyranny. In the time it took to read its 118 pages, I learned a great deal about our constitution and how our Congress and our Presidents have so easily been able to bypass their constitutional restraints.

We have all begun to notice that governments in the US, Canada, Australia and countries around the world are slowly moving away from their constitutions hoping their publics will not notice. The constitution of the US and many countries and their amendments in the US guarantee to every state of the Union, a Republican Form of government. It should be a representative form of government of delegated powers (under Article IV, Section 4).  Erickson examines the evidence that separates action from its underlying principles. Most countries have a way to right the wrongs implemented by power hungry leaders but find it difficult to do.

The author makes a strong and obvious case that it is dangerous to concede our Republic of enumerated powers to the unlimited action of those persons who should be legally bound to support their constitution. He says “our safety will never be found on the careful picking of like-minded political masters; instead, we must leave no stone unturned to search for their source of absolute authority and expose the fraud.”

The first two chapters of the book give a broad overview of the mechanism of constitutional bypass—how our elected members of Congress and unelected officials run roughshod over the ideas implemented by our founding fathers in the original constitution.

The mechanism of bypass used is obscure, but perhaps not to the Congress.

Conservatives must realize that Maryland and Virginia each individually ceded tracts of land to Congress and the U.S. Government for the District constituted as the Seat of Government (D.C.), in a manner that carries none of the constraints the constitution imposes upon the 50 “States.”

And, unlike States of the Union which are empowered but limited by their own State constitutions, no local, State-like constitution exists in the District of Columbia to bind Congress in like manner when they act in a local capacity.

Thus, in the District of Columbia, members of Congress and federal officials must make up all their own local rules as they go along.  They are able to do virtually anything they choose.  They have cleverly discovered the means to free this omnipotent power from its proper boundaries that are limited to ten miles square.

Conservatives accuse progressives of liberally construing the constitution, of giving the old words of the constitution new meaning. Matt Erickson believes that this is what progressives want conservatives to think, in order to keep them off track from discovering progressives’ actual source of unlimited power. Are the progressives smart enough or deceitful enough to play this game? The reader must decide, but Erickson makes an excellent case.

Instead, Erickson argues progressives turned the highly-unusual exception to all the normal rules of the constitution against the remainder, with the aid of another clause. 

Indeed, since even the clause enumerating the District Seat is necessarily part of “This Constitution”—which is the supreme Law of the Land—then the courts have held that even local laws enacted by Congress for the District Seat “bind the nation.”

The implications of this 1821 holding now reach to every single transgression of federal authority, into the domain of the States, affecting the people.

Indeed, devious officials have turned the letter of the constitution against its spirit, Erickson writes, allowing Congress to extend their local power for the District Seat instead throughout the Union.

In his last three chapters, Erickson seeks to prove true his underlying premise by examining a specific case.

While he could have used any of different instances where members of Congress or federal officials ignore their constitutional constraints, he chose the conversion of our legal tender from gold and silver coin to paper currency. For many in current times the Climate Change fraud might have been a better choice as the world has now seen trillions of tax payer dollars poured down a rabbit hole to the benefit of only the few in the winning lobby.

The website in the US acknowledges that there have been some 11,700 proposed amendments since 1789 and only 27 have been ratified. No ratified amendment has changed any of the monetary powers of the US Congress, so the monetary powers today remain the same as those established in 1789.

The monetary powers were codified in the 1792 Coinage Act where standards for minting silver and gold coins were established.  The reader will be amazed and delighted with the specificity quoted from the law in this book as to the silver and gold standards which have been essentially ignored over the past century. Nothing could be lawful tender money that did not contain silver or gold.  The constitution has never been modified to change that firm rule, Erickson tells us that “what the mint has done daily since 1965—making coins without any silver, but said to have a legal value equivalent of the old silver coins - would have been punishable by death in 1792”.

On February 25, 1862 President Lincoln signed into law the Legal Tender Act which established the first paper currencies, all supported by the same silver standards.

Throughout this fascinating short book the author tells those of us too busy to pay attention, what the government has been doing to us, rather than for us, through subterfuge of our constitution. He reminds us that every member of Congress and high official must swear an oath to support the constitution. No person delegated federal authority may determine the extent of their allowable powers for the Union.  They may only use inherent discretion for the District Seat and then extend this power throughout the Union.

FDR in the 1930s called in all gold to the banks and then Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.  Both actions were highly deceptive, but could not do what they alleged.

Indeed, the Fifth Amendment to the constitution reads in part “no person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Erickson believes only a better-educated and active public can begin to turn the tide of the deceptive powers executed over us.  Erickson says patriots must accurately diagnose the single political problem facing us (how it is that members of Congress and federal officials are able to bypass their constitutional constraints, with impunity) before we can implement the appropriate cure.  Attacking symptoms cannot bring about liberty and limited government—we must get to that root problem.

He discusses two paths forward.  The first is pushing a lighter-acting amendment through Congress, to exempt the clause for the District Seat from being part of the supreme Law of the Land.

The second is pushing a harsher-acting amendment through a convention of States process, as a “hammer” to pressure Congress to enact the lighter-acting amendment. He does not look on current convention proposals as being potentially productive, because he asserts they only attack irrelevant symptoms and fail to reach the underlying problem.  This reviewer disagrees and strongly supports one.


This book is available free of charge at and well worth a few hours of interesting reading.

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