Nullification: The Basics

What is State nullification? (there are other forms as well)

Nullification is any act, or set of actions, taken by a state legislature finding a federal act unconstitutional, and rendering it null, void or simply inoperable in that state.

Where did nullification originate?

It finds its basis in the very structure of the Republic. The people of 13 independent, sovereign states agreed to form a political union and delegated specific, limited powers to the federal government through the Constitution, retaining all other power and authority to themselves. It logically follows that the political societies delegating power retain the authority to determine its extent, and take steps when the government they created tries to operate outside of those boundaries.
Virginia ratifying convention delegate George Nichols spelled out the principle when he assured his fellow delegates that Virginia would be “exonerated” if the federal government tried to exercise undelegated powers.

If thirteen individuals are about to make a contract, and one agrees to it, but at the same time declares that he understands its meaning, signification and intent, to be, what the words of the contract plainly and obviously denote; that it is not to be construed so as to impose any supplementary condition upon him, and that he is to be exonerated from it, whensoever any such imposition shall be attempted — I ask whether in this case, these conditions on which he assented to it, would not be binding on the other twelve? In like manner these conditions will be binding on Congress. They can exercise no power that is not expressly granted them.

Who first formalized the principles of nullification?

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison first formally articulated the doctrine in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, responding to the clearly unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts.


Texas Senate Continues the Stand Against the TSA

The Post-9/11 era ushered in a new wave of theatrical security labeled the Transportation Security Administration. This government agency, which seems to have hired more criminals than they caught, has worked with impunity with no regard to the unconstitutional search and seizure of personal property. With a zero success rate in capturing terrorists, the TSA has instead irratiated, humiliated, molested, and stole from the customers of air travel, all the while completed funded by you the tax payer.

Senator Patrick has filed SB 20. This bill is a companion bill to the Texas State House bill HB 80 introduced by Representative Simpson.

This piece of legislation reads, “A person who is a public servant commits an offense if the person: while acting under color of the person’s office or employment:


One Person Can Persuade a Crowd!

During the last legislative session, I was following a bill that was introduced in the Arizona legislature, the “Liberty Preservation Act.” Going through my email one night after work, I found one particularly concerning email from the Tenth Amendment Center containing news about the bill. It was ‘killed in the rules committee.’ I immediately went to the Arizona legislature website and plugged in the bill number to find out what happened.

After a few clicks, I was pleasantly surprised to find a video of the ‘rules committee’ discussing the bill from earlier that week. The group of legislators seemed unfamiliar with the concept of the bill: outlawing new overreaching federal laws that allow for blatantly unconstitutional actions against the citizens in their state. I surmised from watching the video that the purpose of the ‘rules committee’ is to determine if bills are constitutional.

I was surprised to see the group trying to find any reason to disqualify this bill, even after being briefed by the state rules attorney that it was constitutional. So after a whopping 3 minutes of scratching their heads, they decided this bill wasn’t for them. I was pissed!


First in the Nation: Beaufort County, NC Passes Gun Law Nullification Resolution

While a number of states are currently considering legislation to nullify federal gun laws, rules, acts, orders and regulations, and various sheriffs around the country are issuing notice that they will not enforce any such federal laws, a new grassroots undercurrent could be building to support those efforts. Local governments nullifying unconstitutional federal acts.

Today, Beaufort County, North Carolina became the first in the country to do so. The board of commissioners passed a nullification resolution in support of the 2nd Amendment. The vote was unanimous. The resolution reads, in part:

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners calls upon the Governor and General Assembly of the State of North Carolina to immediately pass an act to nullify the implementation within the State of North Carolina of any Federal law, executive order or regulations restricting the right to keep and bear arms

It continues, and makes clear that the County will play no supporting role to the federal government in attacks on the 2nd Amendment:


Oklahoma Legislator Joins Fight to Nullify ObamaCare

cross-posted from The New American Magazine

On January 16, Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze re-introduced a bill stopping the enforcement of ObamaCare at the borders of the Sooner State.

In a statement announcing the newest effort to protect citizens of Oklahoma from the devastating effects of the president’s healthcare law, Dr. Ritze quoted Thomas Jefferson is support of his right to reject unconstitutional federal acts. Said Ritze:

Thomas Jefferson made it perfectly clear in the Kentucky Resolution of 1799 when he wrote; “That if those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence.”

Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution plainly sets forth his understanding of the source of all federal power. Later in that document, Jefferson wrote:

That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour [sic] of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.

Simply stated, nullification is a concept of constitutional law that recognizes the right of each state to nullify, or invalidate, any federal measure that exceeds the few and defined powers allowed the federal government as enumerated in the Constitution.

Nullification is founded on the assertion that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.


“Kaine” is a Code Word. For Idiot.

Earlier today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine observed to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that “Nullification is a code word.”

“For what?” inquired O’Brien.

Sen. Kaine, aggrieved that his colleague Senator Rand Paul used the “N” word in the recent gun control debate, responded: “It’s a states right argument that gets used in times of great controversy. The President is acting by executive power that is legally conferred on him. And as you pointed out, you went over these executive orders. They’re basic, common sense things.”

Indeed, it is precisely the states’ rights argument used by two heaps more famous Virginians, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, when they spat in the eye of President John Adams and his hyper-partisan, First Amendment-trampling Alien and Sedition Acts. And during the time of that other great controversy, i.e., slavery, the “N” word was used by northern states when they interposed against the federal Fugitive Slave Acts of 1850.

You see, Sen. Kaine, nullification, if a code word at all, is a code word for freedom.


Michigan Senators Introduce Firearms Freedom Act

Michigan legislators, perhaps inspired by the interrupted drive to nullify NDAA indefinite detention in the Wolverine State during the last legislative session, have now introduced a bill in the  Senate to protect Michiganians’ natural and inherent right to be armed for self-defense.

Senators Pavlov, Jones, Green, Casperson, Meekhof, Proos, Jansen, Brandenderg, Hildenbrand, Nofs, Colbeck, Emmons and Marleau introduced SB0063, which would protect firearms made and remaining in Michigan from unconstitutional federal regulation. SB0063 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Senator Jones.

The bill specifically prohibits federal interference with intra-state commerce with a few exceptions

 (a) A firearm that cannot be carried and used by 1 person.  (b) A firearm that has a bore diameter greater than 1-1/2 inches and that uses smokeless powder, not black powder, as a propellant. (c) Ammunition with a projectile that explodes using an explosion of chemical energy after the projectile leaves the firearm. (d) A firearm that discharges 2 or more projectiles with1 activation of the trigger or other firing device.

The bill blocks federal overreach in two very important areas: the inalienable right of the people to be armed and the lack of Constitutional authority for D.C. to regulate, mandate or prohibit any form of commerce which begins and ends inside of one states’ boundaries.


Juan Williams: Constitution Is Pro-Gun Control

In an article called “What Everybody Needs to Know About Our Constitution and Gun Control,” Juan Williams of FOX News writes:

Gun control is completely consistent with the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And President Obama is on target with the great American tradition of proposing gun control laws for Congressional approval as well as by issuing executive orders on gun control.

The only opinion that matters here is the Supreme Court’s opinion. And the high court has ruled, several times, that the president, the Congress, state and local government all have the power to regulate guns.

So we discover at the very beginning of this article that “what everybody needs to know about our Constitution and gun control” is precisely nothing. All that matters is what the infallible Supreme Court has said on the subject. According to Williams’ argument, there is in fact no need to know anything about the Constitution at all.

As for executive orders, Williams writes:

Article II of the U.S. Constitution clearly grants Obama and any other president the authority and the discretion to issue executive orders with the force of law over the sale of guns and ammunition.

“Clearly”? Williams might say Article II suggests that Obama has this power (and even here he’d be wrong), but come on — clearly?


2nd Amendment Preservation Act Introduced in Oklahoma

Introduced by Oklahoma State Senator Nathan Dahm is the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Preservation Act. Senate bill 548 (SB548) would nullify any and all federal acts, orders, laws, statutes, rules, or regulations of the federal government on personal firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition.

The bill states, in part:

“federal acts, laws, orders, rules, regulations, bans, or registration requirements regarding firearms constitute an infringement on the individual right, are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate its true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers, and are hereby declared to be invalid in the State of Oklahoma, shall not be recognized by this state, are specially rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.”

The legislation also provides for criminal penalties for federal agents who try to enforce unconstitutional gun laws, rules, regulations, orders, and the like:

Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government or any employee of a corporation providing services to the United States government that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this act shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not to exceed five (5) years, or by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment

While a number of states, including Wyoming, South Carolina, Indiana, and others – are looking to go head to head with the feds on specific issues under the 2nd amendment, the Oklahoma legislation, along with bills in Texas and Missouri, is the strongest introduced anywhere in the country so far.

Tenth Amendment Center national communications director, Mike Maharrey summed up the sentiment:


HB 0042 Filed to Stop Federal Gun Control in Tennessee

United Nations Gun Ban SculptureToday, Rep. Joe Carr unveiled his legislation to protect Tennesseans against a potential gun ban or registration scheme out of Washington, DC.  Sen. Joey Hensley has agreed to carry the bill in the Senate.

The new Tennessee bill is a verbatim copy of an earlier version of the Wyoming bill currently pending before their state legislature.  Wyoming’s HB 0104 originally provided for only misdemeanor penalties for state and federal officials attempting to enforce any kind of federal gun registration or ban, but has since been upgraded to provide felony penalties for these offenses.

(Click here to download a copy of the Wyoming bill and view the redlined changes.)

Tennessee’s HB 0042 provides for misdemeanor penalties like the earlier version of the Wyoming bill.  Because Rep. Carr specifically told the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center that he feels it is important that the states pass exactly the same bill with exactly the same verbiage, he is looking at filing an amendment to match to the latest version of the Wyoming legislation.