While the traditional left has been way off base when covering issues related to the 10th Amendment, Chris Weigant over at Huffington Post is much more fair in his review of both nullification specifically, and the 10th Amendment Movement in general.
Usually, places like HuffPo, MSNBC, ThinkProgress, and elsewhere slam the 10th as being pointless, try to make fun of people who believe in limited government under the 10th by calling them “Tenthers,” try to associate the entire movement with vile racism, and other nasty rhetoric designed to distract from the real issues.
On the other hand, there’s Weigant, who’s obviously making a sincere effort to give a fair report. I think he make some good points, too. Here’s an excerpt:
The Tenth Amendment is one of the rarer parts of the Bill of Rights for the Supreme Court to actually rule on, but every so often one of these cases is taken up by the Court. And, increasingly, Republicans are using it as a “last resort” against federal laws they don’t like. Although, to be fair, one of the more recent decisions (Gonzales v. Raich) went against a California woman who argued that since she was growing medical marijuana on her own land for her own consumption, the constitutional powers of the federal government to regulate interstate trade simply did not apply. The Supreme Court disagreed, but at least it was consistent, since it had ruled during World War II that a wheat farmer could not use this argument to escape federal war efforts to regulate wheat production (Wickard v. Filburn). In both cases, the Court reasoned, even if the farmer didn’t sell his or her crop, it could still impact the interstate commerce for that crop. Meaning Congress could, indeed, regulate it
The Supreme Court has also upheld Congress’ right to essentially blackmail states to do what the feds want, by using the leverage of withholding federal funding to the states unless they comply with the fed’s wishes. Anyone who lived through the 1980s saw how Washington used federal highway funds to blackmail states into raising their drinking age in just such a fashion. But the Supreme Court has also ruled that the feds cannot tell states to actually enforce federal laws directly. Most recently, the Court has struck down gun restrictions such as a “Gun-Free School Zone,” or mandatory background checks for gun sales, which (the Court reasoned) cannot be imposed by the feds on the state governments.
Where he really did best was when he called out a journalist from the New Yorker for calling the language of Georgia’s sovereignty resolution as nutty:
But what he fails to connect is that he is, in essence, calling Thomas Jefferson a nutjob. Because the language in question in the Georgia resolution (“where powers are assumed [by the federal government] which have not been delegated [to it by the states], a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy”) isn’t merely “mock eighteenth-century style,” but in fact was written in the eighteenth century, about ten years after the United States Constitution was ratified — and that the language came directly from Jefferson’s pen.