Nullification is becoming an accepted mainstream idea. We saw the proof this election season with six out of 10 states passing nullification measures with ballot determinations.
There seems to be quite a bit of backlash coming from both elected officials and the media over the validity of the states right to nullify an act of the federal government. False claims of “federal power will always trump state power” by the media. When Governors and State Senators look to the federal government for permission or instruction on what to do it raises a huge red flag.
I think we need to revisit the proper role of government and the power structure of it, to examine just what’s wrong here. It seems that the proverbial wool has been pulled over the eyes of many, and someone needs to educate elected officials on the role of the Governor.
The United States is made up of a number of individual, autonomous states. The primary feature of this particular government is that the federal form was set up after the states came together and unified to form the federal government of the United States.
Let’s examine this for a minute…
The states existed BEFORE the Federal Government, as a matter of fact they CREATED it. The compact which enabled the creation of the federal government is called the U.S. Constitution, which is a set of rules for this federal form of government.
Included in this Constitution, are a number of amendments, the first 10 are commonly referred to as The Bill Of Rights. These 10 amendments clearly set boundaries and protections between the newly created Federal Government and the people who created it.
Let’s examine the 2nd Amendment as we can see an example of the power structure here.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
As we read this last part, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” we see that the right to bear Arms was in existence before the document was written. The Amendment is an assertion, that this is one right the people will retain without there being any question to the matter. It was so important (despite the 9th and 10th amendment) that this right was never to be infringed upon, they made a special amendment to solidify that it never be misunderstood.
The 9th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution read as follows
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Here again we see a clear instruction in the 9th Amendment. Just because ALL of the natural rights of the people are not listed in this document, it is not to be construed that they do not exist.
One might ask, how do we know what all of our natural rights are? The answer to this is found in my favorite Amendment, the 10th
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This Amendment basically tells the federal government, that with the exception of the powers delegated to this new federal government, it is the right of the people to retain ANY and ALL other rights, named or unnamed in this document.
In other words, the federal government need only worry about the duties given to it, which are clearly spelled out in the Constitution. Just like the 2nd amendment, we can see that the 9th and 10th amendments represent another protection set forth by the people, against the rule of a tyrannical central government, not unlike the British monarchy they had just fought a war with to free themselves from.
One would think that all of these protections would be enough to rest on, but Thomas Jefferson and James Madison witnessed in the midst of serving as elected officials that this would not be enough.
Enter the Alien and Sedition Acts…
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams. These Acts alarmed Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Republican Party in general. The alien legislation, which authorized the president to deport resident aliens who had “treasonable” leanings, was a source of concern to Jefferson and other Republicans. The Acts also in part, declared it was a treasonable offense to say anything bad about the President, or the Congress, but mentioned nothing about putting the vice president, Thomas Jefferson, in ill repute.
These acts directly violated the Bill of Rights, specifically the freedom of the people to speak their mind about whatever they want, another protection set forth by the 1st amendment.
Jefferson and Madison knew there was a problem as the Congress should have known, CLEARLY, this was outside of the scope of the federal government’s power, yet they passed it and implemented it anyways. Even elected public officials were imprisoned for such crimes.
Jefferson and Madison wrote a series of resolutions to deal with this issue, They were called The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. These resolutions spoke of the states’ right to “interpose” between the federal government and the people of the state. The Kentucky Resolutions in 1799, a follow-up to the original resolutions, used the term “nullification,” – the power of the states to make null and void, unconstitutional federal laws and mandates. These ideas became known as the “Principles of ’98
This was, at least in the eyes of Jefferson and Madison, the rightful remedy to federal overreach, and the doctrine of Nullification has been used since then, to ignore rules made by the Federal Government which were outside their authority to make.
With the Governor being the “Commander in Chief” of his state, it is pretty clear that his proper role, ESPECIALLY in an instance of a nullification by the people or legislature of his state, is to use whatever power is necessary to interpose between the people and a tyrannical act of the Federal Government.
Every argument you try to make against this being the case has been clearly overruled, quite simply, by the 10th Amendment.