Nullification: Are all Efforts Led by the Right?

A recent article on The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch website, describes current nullification efforts, and provides a brief history of the principle of nullification.  The article, by Brendan Fischer, titled, Will GOP Governors Really try ‘Nullifying’ Obamacare? blames current nullification efforts on states with  Republican governors.  The article also provides the typical “nullification was used to protect slavery” argument.

Both claims are false.

States with Democratic governors are nullifying as well, and nullification was never used to protect slavery.

There are several nullification efforts happening in the United States.  Despite the article’s claims, states with Democratic governors are leading the nullification charge as well. Here’s a few:

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Florida Bows to the Feds

Governor Rick Scott (R-FLA), had this to say about Florida creating healthcare exchanges by Obama’s January 2014 deadline, “Just saying ‘no’ is not an answer.”

The statement, which seems to be a change in Scott’s stance on the healthcare law, shows the obedience of Florida state leadership in submitting to the feds.

Moreover, Florida State Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin) made this comment.

“I don’t like this law, but this is the law, and I believe I have a constitutional duty to carry it out.” This raises the question; what should be the duty of state governments?

The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.”

Clearly, the Constitution establishes federal law as supreme.  However, what if federal mandates go beyond their constitutionally enumerated powers?  The answer, comes from Thomas Jefferson, in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, “But, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.”

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