Understanding Nullification

cross-posted from the Maine Tenth Amendment Center

When nullification is discussed, there is a misconception that never seems to go away: why the anarchy? Nullification and the Tenth Amendment is not a topic discussed often. States’ Rights has been discussed by Mitt Romney and his supporters when defending the Massachusetts healthcare law, a controversial program often compared to Democratic President Barack Obama’s law. Newt Gingrich has begun using the message, along with the libertarian topic “End The Fed” often associated with Congressman Ron Paul. Congressman Paul is one of only two candidates for the Republican Presidential Nomination (the other being former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson) who have actually voiced their support for nullification. That is it.

Conservatives and liberals have both often refuted the idea of nullification, claiming it would lead to lawlessness and anarchy. Some libertarians have even dismissed the idea as a fascinating political theory, but something with no actual grounding in reality.

Now odds are, if you’ve been following the Tenth Amendment Center or authors such as Thomas Woods or Kevin Gutzman, you’ve heard about the idea and know the history lesson associated with it. If you haven’t, then some links at the end of this article will provide you with some background on the topic. This will not be repeated; the aim of the article is to understand nullification, not justify it.

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Feds Conduct Gestapo-Style Raids on Tennessee Guitar Maker

On Wednesday, August 24, federal agents conducted a Gestapo-style raid, complete with automatic weapons and bulletproof vests, on Gibson Guitars manufacturing facilities in Nashville and Memphis. The reason for all the firepower and spent taxpayer money to fly in agents from New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Washington, DC to take part in the raid?  The federal government executed search warrants to seize wood – yes, wood – from Gibson that they allege was imported illegally.

What were the feds expecting Gibson employees to do that required SWAT gear, make the federal agents cringe by playing out of tune guitars at them?

According to statements by Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz at a press conference following the raids, Gibson was never informed by the federal government as to the charges leveled against the company.

“What is more troubling is that the Justice Department’s position is that any guitar that we ship out of this facility is potentially an obstruction of justice, and to be followed with criminal charges,” Juszkiewicz said.

In other words, to add insult to the injury inflicted when the federal government took Gibson’s property without informing them of the charges –  a violation of the Sixth Amendment right of the accused “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,” they have also attempted to shut down Gibson’s business by preventing them from moving any guitars outside of the searched facilities.

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