Sometimes the Media Does an OK job. Sometimes

NOTE: After being interviewed pretty extensively for an op-ed on nullification that ran in the Chicago Tribune, it was suggested to me by the author that if I wanted to write a rebuttal, the letters editor of the paper was certainly open to publishing my thoughts as a short letter.

The following is the text of that letter to the editors of the Chicago Tribune – published on August 21, 2013.

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The Chicago Tribune’s editorial, “Nullifying Washington,” did something unusual. It didn’t approach nullification as a wild, partisan movement of neo-confederates hell-bent on stopping Obama, or reinstating slavery.

As founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, considered the epicenter of the nullification movement, I’ve spoken to many reporters. They rarely discuss nullification like The Tribune did.

Fairly.

Here’s the standard rundown:

Nullification is pro-slavery.

Nullification is used only by the far-right. 

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Ignoring Constitutional Constraints

By Jon N. Hall, Originally published at the American Thinker

When the law no longer commands respect, one can pretty well write off a nation that pretends to be a constitutional republic.  How can The People respect the law when the government doesn’t? President Obama seems to regard the law as a mere inconvenience.

In his must-read August 5 article “The Front Man” at National Review, Kevin Williamson sums up our Harvard Law School president’s taste for lawlessness. “He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park.”

With a compliant Congress in his first two years, and a divided, gridlocked Congress thereafter, Mr. Obama has been able to “get away with” an awful lot. One of ways the president flouts the law is by not enforcing it, such as in his recent “decision” to delay enforcing the employer mandate of ObamaCare. Where does the president get off thinking he has the authority to refuse to enforce a law? The president doesn’t seem to understand his job.

Also, under Obama the executive branch just makes up law, a task generally reserved for the legislative branch. Williamson reports that “although the IRS has no statutory power to collect Affordable Care Act–related fines in states that have not voluntarily set up health-care exchanges, Obama’s managers there have announced that they will do so anyway.”

That announcement brings to mind a provision in the ACA concerning enforcement of the individual mandate: “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure. [Sec. 5000A(g)(2)(A), page 249]” With regard to this prohibition, it remains to be seen whether Obama’s minions at the IRS will announce “that they will do so anyway”?

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Preserving Liberty: What Actually Can be Done

On Friday, August 9th, I was a guest on the Pennsylvania Republican Liberty Caucus’s Speak Out program hosted by Lois Kaneshiki to chat about the Tenth Amendment Center, state nullification and Pennsylvania’s anti-NDAA bill (SB 999). We discussed the historical precedents for nullification, the Tenth Amendment Center’s legislative agenda, the constitutional problems with Sections 1021…

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We All Agree. Now Let’s Debate!

Over the weekend, CSPAN aired a discussion on nullification featuring Ian Millhiser of the progressive Center for American Progress and Ilya Shapiro of the libertarian CATO Institute.

Presumably, the discussion was journalistically balanced because it featured two men from polar opposite ends of the political spectrum. And while that might constitute “balance” in some sense of the word, it certainly wasn’t a balanced discussion on the principles of nullification, because everybody in the room opposed the idea.

Millhiser kicked things off by rightly pointing out that states gave up some sovereignty when they delegated specific powers to the general government, but went on to totally misrepresent nullification.

“Now you’re seeing some states who are basically saying they want to go back on that deal that they made when we became a union and say that the states should be allowed to overrule valid federal law that they don’t like.”

Shapiro essentially agreed, with the caveat that the feds can’t force states to enforce federal statutes.

“The Supreme Court has been quite clear on that. What states cannot do is stop federal officers from enforcing federal law. States can’t pass a law that, as Ian said, nullifies federal law.”

There you have it. These two guys agree. No nullification!

What a great “debate!”

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