On May 4, politicususa.com published “Republicans Shred the Constitution By Passing Unconstitutional Nullification Laws” by Rmuse.
This article is nothing more than worship at the altar of the All-Powerful National Regime. The author’s supposition is that Republicans despise the Constitution because many states have passed bills that nullify federal government laws and reject federal court opinions. It is my contention that citizens of the several states do not need to stand by and accept unconstitutional overreach of federal statutes and poorly reasoned federal / Supreme court decisions. As James Madison put it:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. (THE FEDERALIST NO. 45, at 292-293 (James Madison)(Clinton Rossiter ed., 1961))
Rmuse’s primary contention is that any and all decisions by the federal government must be constitutional because they say so. Nothing could be further from the truth. All three branches, executive, legislative and judicial, are three limbs of the same power hungry tree.
In the second paragraph of the article, he makes some strange reference to secession petitions submitted after the 2012 election. These petitions, submitted through the White House web site, have nothing to do with nullification. Nullification acts are passed by state legislatures, petitions are submitted by individual citizens. He also said nullification started immediately after the 2012 election when, in fact, efforts began during in 1798 with the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. Other nullification efforts began as early as 1832 during the Jackson administration. And if we are talking about the modern nullification movement, we can look back to the mid-1990s when California began nullifying federal prohibition of weed.
He goes on to intimate that nullification actions by the South were the main cause of the Civil War. The cause of the Civil War has been, and will be, the subject of many books and papers, I won’t rebut his simplistic view here. But, many states in the North refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Then in 1854, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional. During the Civil War, Gen. Benjamin Butler nullified his own government’s Fugitive Slave Law by refusing to return escaped slaves. So, nullification is not the creation of slavers to protect that institution. It was northern states refusing to ship black people south in chains that were nullifying.
Today, many states are standing up to an out-of-control federal government, and judging from daily news reports, they need to. Just look at the IRS scandals, NSA spying on citizens, massive wealth redistribution, physical assaults by federal agents at airports, random searches without warrants in border states, illegal meddling in foreign affairs…the list goes on and on.
The author cites the 1958 Supreme Court opinion that “No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his solemn oath to support it.” He defines a state challenge to unconstitutional actions of Congressional as warring against the Constitution. It is the exact opposite. The people elected to serve us cannot use the Constitution as a blanket to protect themselves from illegal / unconstitutional action. I heard one Democrat representative state that if they followed the Constitution, nothing would get done. Is that not an admission of ignoring their guidelines created by the states?
Later in the article, he refers with great reverence to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. For those limited duties granted the federal government by the states, the federal government is supreme. For all those other objects, as explained by President Madison, the states reign supreme. Additionally, the Ninth and Tenth amendments reinforce Madison’s Federalist assertion.
He concludes that all those nullification efforts do not bode well for America. I think that it is exactly the opposite. And it is not only Republicans nullifying federal action, as the author would lead us to believe. Both Washington State and Colorado citizens passed recreation marijuana use laws this last election cycle in direct defiance of the author’s leviathan. Those are hardly bastions of Republican strength. The states should be treated as sovereign entities with as little governance from Washington as possible. Then we would have 50 separate entities governed by its citizens. We could choose where to live that best suites our political beliefs about liberty and government. Successful nullification should reduce the size and scope of the federal government, which will allow them to better perform their constitutionally mandated duties.