by New Jersey Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose
A lot of misinformation has been put out recently by political candidates who are opposing me and Gary Chiusano for Assembly this November. Sure, it is politics, but this misinformation doesn’t take the place of good legislation designed to challenge an unpopular federal law that will radically change health care in this country.
I have proposed several bills designed to block the implementation of ObamaCare in New Jersey. My legislation centers on the concept of nullification — the idea that a state can choose to “nullify” a federal law within its own borders.
Nullification has been around since the beginning of our Republic. The first nullification movement was an attempt to block the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which made it a crime to criticize the federal government. Dozens were arrested under the Acts and one — a newspaper editor — died waiting for trial. A number of those arrested were found guilty in trials held before partisan judges.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led this nullification movement that saw two states adopt resolutions which held that individual states have the power to declare that federal laws are unconstitutional and void. They saw nullification as a check on over-reaching federal power — a necessary local balance to the central government.
My ancestors, one of whom died fighting for the Union in the Civil War, would have approved of nullification when it was used to combat the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This horrible federal law, called the “bloodhound law” by opponents of slavery, allowed the capture and return of escaped slaves even in states where slavery had been abolished.
Most people today know nullification through the medical marijuana laws passed by states across the country, by which individual states ignore or nullify federal laws that make marijuana illegal in all circumstances. Fifteen states now have laws that allow the use of marijuana — in direct opposition to federal law.
If the results of the 2010 congressional elections are anything to go by, the Democrats’ plan for health care appears to have been soundly rejected by the American electorate. President Obama’s mistake was to attempt to refashion the whole of the health care system — instead of just devising a way to provide care to those who fall outside it. In doing so, the president disrupted the lives of far more than the Democrats’ plan holds out hope to. Forcing people to purchase a product — against their will — is morally wrong and deeply unpopular.
Many of those who oppose my legislation to nullify ObamaCare support nullification in the case of marijuana use. In New Jersey, opposition to my legislation has been led by the Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The Democratic Party — through its state party chairman — has tried to liken the concept of nullification with the idea of the Confederacy. As we have seen, it is just the opposite. Besides, the Democratic Party was the political institution associated with slavery in the lead-up to the Civil War. It was the Republican Party that was formed, in great part, to fight and to end slavery. The 1856 platform of the Republican Party makes its position very clear, when it states: “We deny the authority of Congress to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.”
The opposition from the ACLU is led by its General Counsel, who has not only contributed to President Obama’s campaign, but he has made no fewer than 18 monetary contributions to the Democrat Party or to Democrat candidates. This gentleman, in his role as a Rutgers professor, conducted a voter registration drive at New Jersey prisons to register voters for the 2008 presidential election. When asked who the registration project favored, one of the students involved in the project said to the media: “My sense was it was overwhelmingly Obama.”
But the ACLU has supported nullification in instances other than ObamaCare. It supports nullification in the case of medical marijuana, as it does in the case of the Real ID Act of 2005, where the ACLU is leading a nationwide nullification effort. Opponents of the Real ID Act argue that this federal law is contrary to Amendments 4 through 10 of the U.S. Constitution. Twenty-five states have nullification legislation to ignore or nullify this federal law overseeing state driving license programs.
The truth is that the opponents of nullification only oppose it for some things, but embrace it for others. And far from being a “right wing” or “tea party” solution to over-reach by the federal government, nullification has been used over the centuries by freedom loving patriots of all parties and ideological persuasions to combat what they believed to be intrusive government.
Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose has served the citizens of New Jersey’s 24th District since February 2003 when she was elected to fill the remainder of Congressman Scott Garrett’s term in the New Jersey General Assembly. She later went on to win the primary and general elections that year She has been re-elected in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
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