An Anniversary worth Remembering

On July 14, 1798, the Sedition Act became law. Jefferson and Madison responded with the heroic Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, calling for nullification.

I’ve given many talks on nullification, and written a book on it. But this is my favorite one. The last 15 minutes in particular.

Some resources I put together on nullification here:
http://www.libertyclassroom.com/nullification/

Details

Left-Wingers Attack; I Yawn

Apparently there’s been a series against me over at the Daily Kos by a left-liberal lawyer. I no longer pay attention to left-wing attacks. It’s the same arguments every time. They pretend I haven’t answered them. I have. They idiotically call me a “neo-Confederate” (have they really not seen the zombie video, or are they trying to caricature themselves?).

The most recent one is only slightly different. For some reason, central to his argument is his claim that Thomas Jefferson was an Antifederalist. He was not. Jefferson was a supporter of the Constitution, though he wanted term limits for the president, as well as a Bill of Rights. This is all explained in a basic text like David N. Mayer’s The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson.

I am then accused of “mendacity” (because I stand to gain a lot by lying about nullification!) because I do not note that nine states spoke out against the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which laid out the doctrine of state nullification. By my count, seven states issued statements against the Resolutions, and I have discussed them repeatedly, both in my book (which the author has not read, naturally) and online.

I am “mendacious” for leaving this out, even though I didn’t leave it out, but my critic isabsolutely not mendacious for himself leaving out the reason that six of those seven states opposed Virginia and Kentucky: they favored the Sedition Act, and the principle that journalists should be thrown in jail for criticizing the president. Oops!

Details

Oklahoma Republican Suppresses Nullification Bill

State Senator Clark Jolley, chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the Oklahoma Senate, suppressed a recent nullification bill there. (On nullification, see StateNullification.com and NullificationFAQ.com.) A friend sent me a copy of his letter to a constituent. It reads, in part: Nullification is simply a fantasy that is the most dangerous type – one semi based in reality. It…

Details

Thought Controllers Up in Arms About Mississippi Nullification Bill

In Mississippi, House Bill 490 would establish a commission to evaluate the constitutionality of federal actions and prevent the enforcement of unconstitutional ones. (They are calling this neutralization, not nullification, but it’s the same thing.)

Naturally, the Opinion Police are appalled at this; this idea does not appear on the 3×5 card of positions we peons are allowed to hold. So the Clarion Ledger has published at least two articles on the subject in the past week in which we are treated to breathless posturing about the civil rights movement, in order to make the idea of political decentralization toxic to the public. They also claim the bill is “unconstitutional” — and whenever an article against nullification makes this claim, you can be sure it will be followed up with: “According to Fred Lawyer of John Marshall Law School, the bill is unconstitutional because according to Article VI of the Constitution, federal law trumps state law.”

Here are the two articles:

Details

Alaska House Speaker Calls for Nullification

And a local reporter condemns him with the same old fourth-grade arguments. He gives us the Supremacy Clause (which he evidently thinks Thomas Jefferson didn’t know about), which he takes to mean that any old federal law trumps all state law, an interpretation that would have come as a surprise to the ratifiers. He gives us the morally grotesque “the Civil War settled this” argument, naturally. And so on.

Then we get the usual lecture about the bad old Articles of Confederation, regarding which Aronno is content to repeat his fourth-grade lesson, and has evidently never shown any curiosity beyond that. He quotes Madison without acknowledging the Report of 1800, where Madison said the states had to have a defense mechanism to guard against all three branches of the federal government.

Details

Shock: ‘The Progressive Professor’ Opposes Nullification

A very predictable progressive, I might add. Once in a while a progressive, like Jeff Taylor at Jacksonville State, realizes that gigantic, unresponsive bureaucracies that bomb foreign populations at the drop of a hat, just might — might! — not be so progressive. And that the old progressive slogan “small is beautiful” just might apply to the political order as well.

But then there are the Predictable Progressives, who stick to the 3×5 card of allowable opinion, and trot out all the old arguments. Half the time they’re not even arguments. It’s just, “Hey, this is an old idea! That means it’s stupid. Today we’re so much more sophisticated. The modern state has showered the world with so many blessings; what kind of uppity troublemaker could ever want to challenge it?”

Hence the “Progressive Professor,” who teaches at Florida Atlantic University, has a blog post called “Rand Paul Revives Nullification from the Pre-Civil War Years.” He writes:

Details

Nullification is a ‘Code Word,’ Says Senator

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that Rand Paul’s threat to “nullify” Obama’s executive orders pertaining to guns was a poor choice of words; “nullify” is a “code word,” he says. What’s it a code word for? Kaine won’t say:

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.

[He is asked once again to clarify what it is a code word for.] We’ll see what it is. But the notion that we’re going to nullify a presidential action when the President is acting pursuant to law, you know, that’s just kind of this anti-government rhetoric that I’m surprised to hear somebody in government using.

Who knows what any of this is supposed to mean, but this is a fairly common tactic: the implication that the Left speaks honestly and forthrightly, while non-leftists use wicked “code words” by which they secretly convey their sinister intentions to their supporters.

Details

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?

Details