DEBATING STATE NULLIFICATION OF FEDERAL LAWS

As Eleven States Declare Sovereignty Over Obama’s Action observed early in 2009, Obamcare stirred up a ruckus.

State governors — looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan — are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama​ has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states — “Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, [Minnesota]…Georgia,” South Carolina, and Texas — “have all introduced bills and resolutions” reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states. (continued here)

Since then much of America has debated and slowly begun to take seriously state nullification of Federal laws. Dear Federal Government: Go To Hell, an essay at the Tenth Amendment Center, cites this Rasmussen poll, 54% Say States Should Be Able To Opt Out of Federal Programs.

So why is state nullification such a rarity? Well, it really isn’t, as the Jim Crow laws attest. Even after the Civil War, and after being garrisoned with Federal troops during Reconstruction, Southern States stubbornly passed laws stripping Blacks of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. What war could not accomplish and troops could not enforce, Blacks eventually did themselves. With nonviolent protests — civil disobedience — Blacks shamed Whites into recognizing their civil rights.

So what would state nullification look like? I am not sure, but About the Tenth Amendment and Nullification – An Email From A Friend Challenges My Assumptions at REDSTATE provides a clue. Here the author describes a process that requires guts and persistence. An orderly process usually defines American Law. Since no process is defined for state nullification of Federal laws, nullification requires the determined obedience of the citizenry to state Law and determine disobedience to Federal Law.

If people really were fed up (no pun intended) they simply would not purchase insurance and they would refuse to pay the fine. Would states come to their defense, and if so how, when the feds tried to collect the fines or render punishment for refusing to pay? Who knows? Has anyone even thought about how the states could come to the defense of its citizens who individually decide to defy the feds in this regard? See what I mean? Talk, talk, talk. (from here)

Frankly, I would prefer more orderly process. I am not ashamed to admit fear. I would much rather see Conservatives win elections and win in the courts. Nonetheless, we have no such guarantees. Just as have some in the past, we too may see the worse.

When free men want to remain free, we have one final option. We say NO! We refuse to be sheep. We refuse to acquiesce and politely accept our enslavement. We nullify bad Law by refusing to obey.

One last thought. The Roanoke Tea Party supports state nullification. See 4th Circuit Court: Nullification Chronicles Part 3. They are fans of Thomas E. Woods. Since Woods supports Ron Paul, I probably don’t see eye-to-eye with Woods on at least a few subjects. Nonetheless, this book review, A Brilliant Exposition on the Effectiveness of Nullification, sounds interesting.

So while I am hesitant at this point to go down the nullification road, I still consider those folks allies and remind them to be patient.

When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn’t like it. “Compromise” was a dirty word to them and they wouldn’t face the fact that we couldn’t get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don’t get it all, some said, don’t take anything. I’d learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: “I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.” If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that’s what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it. — Ronald Reagan (from here)

Total agreement is not required to define someone as a friend — not that I will ever get use to disagreement. Did Reagan ever stop fighting?

12 thoughts on “DEBATING STATE NULLIFICATION OF FEDERAL LAWS

  1. You need to read more carefully. Your reference is to my opposition to what I view as a loopy, extra-constitutional idea that was thrown around here and elsewhere that the individual states are charged with litigating in court to defend residents’ federal constitutional rights. I didn’t suggest that people not inclined to defend their own rights are “wimps”, only that defense of individual rights is an individual responsibility. And I’m totally perplexed as to where you got the idea that I’ve advocated a position that “we cannot determine what our rights might be.” I have said that the health care reform issue is one that is unsettled. As for the “We, the People. . .” reference, welcome aboard. Precisely. It doesn’t say “We, the States. . .” By Jove, I think he’s got it.

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  2. Scout – Your position is self contradictory. Here at this comment you beat on your chest and tell us you can protect your own rights, suggesting anyone who cannot is wimp. Here in your latest comment you explain that we cannot determine what our rights might be. It is all too very complicated.

    Have you forgotten how the Constitution begins. It is our document. It belongs to We the People. We decide what it means. If we think our elected officials have stepped beyond the powers we gave them, then we organize by whatever means necessary and toss them out on their ears.

    Eric – I think Obamacare is evil. When you can tell people how to spend whatever they might earn, you have enslaved them.

    Perhaps you think we have a right to health care. Perhaps you think Obamacare is necessary to make that happen. Yet Democrats sold it with a pack of lies beginning with the lie that any of us have the right to force someone else to pay for our health care.

    Anyway, I have a question for you. When you cannot explain what makes Obamacare constitutional, why should the fact Congress passed that legislation and Obama signed make you comfortable with it? The majority is always right? And the Jim Crow laws were what?

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