Answering Objections to Nullification

On May 17th, Arizona Tea Party activist, Steve Weston, was interviewed on a Blog Talk Radio show called,  Crossroads with Van.  I hope you will check out the show and tune in often!

This particular interview introduced the topic of state nullification and addressed the question of whether its use is constitutional or not.

I wanted to appear on the show as the other guest, in order to champion nullification, but unfortunately, my work schedule did not permit it. However, you can listen to the entire interview by clicking HERE. And you can also listen to a previous debate between Steve Weston and Professor Kevin R.C. Gutzman by clicking HERE

Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts meant to clarify some of the issues raised in the interview, to correct some of the errors that Mr. Weston made concerning the history of nullification and to share some observations and insights that I gained from listening to the interview.

Who’s the Authority?

At the beginning of the interview, Mr. Weston mentioned that he considered Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to be the two most authoritative writers on the subject, with Madison’s writings carrying the most weight, in his opinion.

While I agree that Jefferson and Madison were two of the most important figures when it came to articulating and clarifying the doctrine of nullification  (what would eventually come to be known as the Principles of ‘98), I would like to point out that arguments in favor of nullification go all the way back to the ratification debates (especially in Virginia), and were instrumental in persuading those opposed to the Constitution’s ratification.

Also, a number of other brilliant, although younger patriots, whose lives overlapped with those of Jefferson and Madison’s, were also important champions of nullification. Their insights and arguments concerning the nature and character of the Union need to be considered as well. The arguments I’ve always made in favor of state nullification have never been based on the ideas or writings of one, or just a few, founders, framers or ratifiers. One has to to look at the big picture, and listen to the many voices that were all part of this long debate, both before, during and after the Constitution’s ratification.

But back to the radio interview…

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Michigan State Policymakers Push to Keep Federal Gas Taxes

Last week I discussed the Obama administration’s decision to redistribute federal high-speed rail money rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. I noted that “Florida taxpayers were spared their state’s share of maintaining the line, but they’re still going to be forced to help foot the bill for passenger-rail projects in other states.” My underlying point was that the states should be allowed to make their own transportation decisions with their own money.

Two Michigan state policymakers — both Republican — want to send the same message to Washington. State representatives Paul Opsommer and Tom McMillin have introduced resolutions that call on the federal government to allow the states to keep the federal gasoline taxes that they send to Washington. (Opsommer’s resolution would have to pass both state chambers, whereas McMillin’s resolution would only need to pass in the Michigan House.)

Michigan would no longer send its money to Washington so that it can be washed through Congress and the federal bureaucracy and sent back to Michigan (and the other states) with costly federal strings attached. Instead, highway financing and control would be left to the states. As a Cato essay on federal highway funding argues, re-empowering the states is clearly preferable to the current top-down approach:

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The Powers That Be ask that you NOT attend

by Nick Hankoff YOU are Invited to NULLIFY this Unconstitutional GOVERNMENT RSVP and invite your friends –> https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198099226890137 At Nullify Now! Los angeles you’ll learn not only the historical facts, but how to apply these principles right now. event date – may 28, 2011 – 4pm-LATE where – Penthouse of AT&T Center, Downtown Los Angeles Tickets…

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