Nullification Deniers: Confusing Emotion with Logic

Davis Merritt’s article Hidden price of nullification: forfeited rights is another example of fantasy instead of reality.

Many in the media keep repeating an inaccurate narrative about nullification.  Are they truly that ignorant of history, or they have been forced fed so much that it has evolved into pseudo reality?

Merritt spends the first three paragraphs of his article recounting the dark history of the American South during the 1950s and 1960s.  He pushes the emotional gas peddle harder (instead of the logical brake) when bringing the nostalgia of last weeks remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s classic speech.  He writes:

The 50-year anniversary last week of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech also marked a half-century since the idea of state nullification of federal laws had any credence at all. But the irony of that historical juxtaposition is lost on a new generation of nullification enthusiasts in state legislatures.

Interesting that Merritt conveniently forgets one of Dr. King’s most famous quotes, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”  Merritt apparently has never read Thomas Jefferson who also wrote, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

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Cato Chairman On Nullification: An Amalgamation of Revisionist History Covered in Judicial Fairy Dust

Cato Institute chairman Robert Levy’s recent article, “The Limits of Nullification” is nothing less than an amalgamation of revisionist history covered in judicial fairy dust.  His assertions are premised upon a flawed understanding of certain fundamental principles and constitutional history.  Levy conveniently ignores them and, consequently, drawn inaccurate conclusions.

Let’s dissect this piece by piece.

Levy implies the Constitution was ratified by the people acting in their aggregate political capacity – a single unitary body politic.  In fact, many people believe this falsehood because they rely on the words “We the People of the United States” in the Preamble.  The initial drafts of the Constitution named each and every state.  They said, We the people of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, etc.  But, Article VII of the Constitution states, “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same”.

Each state is independent, free, and sovereign.  The ratification happened within each State by the people acting in their highest political capacity.  Each state voted up or down on the ratification.  There was no popular vote across all thirteen states.  There was no majority of people (50%, 75%, or 95%) of the people that could ratify the Constitution.  The people of each free, independent, and sovereign State ratified the Constitution independent form every other state.

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Nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act: The Moderate Middle Road

Did you know there was a strong and vocal secession movement in the north prior to the Civil War?

Most people don’t. That bit of history pretty much disappeared down the Orwellian memory hole long ago.

In fact, radical abolitionists did advance the idea of secession. They argued that non-slave states simply could not remain associated with those allowing such a vile and immoral institution.

Slavery was so contentious, Congress passed a Gag Rule in 1836. All petitions relating to slavery were tabled without referring them to a committee, printing them or even discussing them. Essentially, Congress swept the issue under the rug.

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The Supreme Court as Accomplice: Judicial Backing for Executive Power

Lecture presented by Marshall DeRosa at the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s “Reassessing the Presidency” seminar. This lecture series addresses the much neglected reality that the executive department of the U.S. government has always been the sum total of the American welfare-warfare state. Event held at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, October 16-17, 1998. http://mises.org

Nullification is a Constitutional Principle

There is no easier way for tyranny to take hold than for a People to remain silent when they know, or should know, what their rights are. There is no easier way for a government to usurp the natural rights of a People to govern themselves than for them to stand by and let that government legislate when it has no authority to do so.

The early colonists certainly didn’t miss an opportunity to stand up for their rights. In fact, the Sons of Liberty formed (much like today’s Tea Party and Tenth Amendment Center) to point out where Britain was violating their rights and to help organize opposition and protest. Samuel Adams, the leader of the Sons of Liberty in Boston, wrote the following in 1769 with these words:

DEARLY BELOVED,

REVOLVING time hath brought about another anniversary of the repeal of the odious Stamp Act,—an act framed to divest us of our liberties and to bring us to slavery, poverty, and misery. The resolute stand made by the Sons of Liberty against the detestable policy had more effect in bringing on the repeal than any conviction in the Parliament of Great Britain of the injustice and iniquity of the act . It was repealed from principles of convenience to Old England, and accompanied with a declaration of their right to tax us; and since, the same Parliament have passed acts which, if obeyed in the Colonies, will be equally fatal. Although the people of Great Britain be only fellow-subjects, they have of late assumed a power to compel us to buy at their market such things as we want of European produce and manufacture; and, at the same time, have taxed many of the articles for the express purpose of a revenue; and, for the collection of the duties, have sent fleets, armies, commissioners, guard acostas, judges of admiralty, and a host of petty officers, whose insolence and rapacity are become intolerable. Our cities are garrisoned; the peace and order which heretofore dignified our streets are exchanged for the horrid blasphemies and outrages of soldiers; our trade is obstructed ; our vessels and cargoes, the effects of industry, violently seized; and, in a word, every species of injustice that a wicked and debauched Ministry could invent is now practiced against the most sober, industrious, and loyal people that ever lived in society. The joint supplications of all the Colonies have been rejected; and letters and mandates, in terms of the highest affront and indignity, have been transmitted from little and insignificant servants of the Crown to his Majesty’s grand and august sovereignties in America.

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