CATO Chairman Says States aren’t Sovereign

The New York Times published on September 3, 2013 an article written by Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, on the “limitations of nullification”.  I have had the honor of having personal discussions with Mr. Levy on several issues and even had the opportunity to debate him on the issue of nullification in a forum in South Florida.  It will be no surprise to Mr. Levy that I disagree with his opinion. Opinions aside, I would like to have the opportunity to present the facts.

Mr. Levy’s main premise is that the States have the option to not agree and not enforce federal law, but they do not have the ability to prevent the federal government from enforcing its laws within the States.

“That’s because federal officials are authorized to enforce their own laws, even if they cannot compel the states to do so. Thus, on the second point, the nullifiers are wrong: states cannot impede federal enforcement of a federal law merely because the state deems it unconstitutional. That is up to the federal courts.”

Mr. Levy’s premise is flawed and a mere review of the facts makes that clear.  This country was built upon the foundation of free, independent, and sovereign States.

“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…”  Lee Resolution June 7, 1776

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LA Times: Nullification Based on “Imaginary Authority”

In an editorial published September 16, the Los Angeles Times declared that states attempting to nullify unconstitutional acts of the federal government were “states of denial.” The very idea that states can “decide for themselves whether federal laws are unconstitutional” is, the paper insists, “rejected even by many legal scholars who support states’ rights.”

Articles such as this one are probably what made Thomas Jefferson declare, “I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier.”

That said, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times not only lacks basic understanding of fundamental principles of constitutional construction, but they hide their ignorance in a cowardly fashion behind the skirts of “scholars,” apparently afraid to come out and make statements of supposed constitutional certainty on their own.

To its credit, the article does make a bold statement so incredible and so detached from reality that it deserves reprinting here. TheTimes says, without qualification whatsoever, that state legislators violate [their oath of office] when they attempt to nullify duly enacted federal laws.”

With that statement in mind, one wonders if the Times will make the same accusation of all those federal lawmakers and President Obama who violate the oaths they have taken to be bound by the Constitution and to protect it from enemies foreign and domestic.

Moreover, will the Times call out these elected officials for their disregard of the very clear constitutional limits on their power? It only stands to reason that if an attempt to enforce constitutional limits on power is a violation of the oath of office, then overt acts to exceed those limits are even more unforgivable offenses against it.

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An Olive Branch to Mark Levin on Nullification

If Mark doesn’t consider this reasonable, deletes our post on facebook, or attacks us as pseudo-anything, that should speak volumes.

Here’s what we had to say, on my personal approval, on his facebook page today:

And for posterity, since we know his staff is prone to delete posts that disagree with him, here’s the full text:

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FOX News “Fairly Imbalanced” on Nullification

bal·ance:    noun     equality between the totals of the two sides of an account

That’s a pretty straight forward definition.  Yet FOX continues to “frame” the news instead of reporting it.

You could expect that from their opinion shows that take of their prime time and evening coverage. There is no balance there and you shouldn’t expect it; they’re opinion shows.  So when you hear Bill O’Reilly say that he thinks oil speculators should be jailed, and all of our oil reserves nationalized and controlled by the national government, you can take that for what it is and tune out.  When Eric Bolling pulls out his pocket constitution from CATO and says that he is all for more cameras on the streets, you can shake your head and wonder if he has ever read it.  Opinion shows are just what they are advertised as – opinion shows.

But news reporting used to be just “news” – balanced, informative reporting.  No longer.

During the founding of the nation there was much debate over whether or not states wanted to establish a central government.  Newspapers ran a number of editorial pieces called the Federalist Papers.  These were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, and were 100 percent pro central government pieces.  Also published were their rebuttals, collectively known today (not as well as they should be) as the anti-Federalist papers.  These were written in part by Richard Henry Lee, George Clinton and others.  These papers sought to expose the weaknesses of the constitution and explain how tyranny could take foothold in the future if the Federalists succeeded in getting the constitution ratified.  For the purposes of this blog, the important thing was that both were published and distributed.  Fair and balanced, no editing or salesman like pitches rammed down your throat as you read them in the town square, or picked up your copy from the corner stand.

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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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The Mainstream Media Sham

From Tenther Radio, Episode 115

Can you imagine a reporter doing a story on professional basketball in the United States and not contacting, or even referencing, the NBA?

How about a story on space flight without any attempt to talk to the folks over at NASA?

Or an article about online auctions that fails to reference eBay?

You wouldn’t have a whole lot of faith in the credibility of the report, would you?

Well, this happens all the time when it comes to nullification. It seems like at least once a week, we run across a story on the subject that doesn’t even reference the Tenth Amendment Center. Fox News was the latest mainstream media organization to spit out an article about nullification full of misinformation and assumptions that we could have easily cleared up. And we know they never tried to contact us about the story, because, well…we’re right here! Easy to find! Just tap a few keystrokes into the little Google search box and there we are! The phone never rang, and an email from the folks at Fox was absent from our mailbox.

I don’t mean to sound like sour grapes, but the Tenth Amendment Center has led the nullification effort for the last seven-plus years. We’ve written model legislation, worked closely with state lawmakers across the United States to get nullification bills passed, and we’ve written hundreds, if not thousands, of article on the subject.

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Fox News Misses the Mark on Nullification

Picture the scene.

It’s October 1787 and three men take on the herculean task of getting the New York farmers on board with the Constitution before the ratification debates get started. But these guys are up for the task. I mean, we’re talking about James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton for goodness sake.

What’s really hard to imagine, in light of our world today, is that three different New York newspapers are anticipating the writings. They can’t wait to publish them!!!

Fast-forward to 2013. Fox News finally puts out a story about “nullification.”  But the bastion of “conservative” news is missing the mark. The Tenth Amendment Center has been a the forefront of liberty through nullification for over seven years now. Apparently, Fox News can’t be bothered with liberty.

Too radical?

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Establishment Hypocrisy from the New York Times

Earlier this year, the Missouri legislature passed a Second Amendment Preservation Act that would nullify unconstitutional federal actions violating the right to keep and bear arms. Gov. Nixon vetoed it. The legislature will have a chance to override in September.

On Saturday, the New York Times came out with an editorial using the Missouri bill as a springboard to ridicule those who think the federal government should not willy-nilly violate the Second Amendment.

As a measure of the gun culture’s dangerous sway over statehouse politicians, it is hard to top the pending proposal in Missouri that would pronounce all federal gun safety laws null and void in the state and allow the arrest of federal agents who try to enforce them.

In typical arrogant fashion, the Times editorial board proceeds as if no rational argument for the Missouri nullification bill exists so they can get right to painting supporters as ignorant, redneck, extremist, nutjobs. The board uses words like “bizarre” and “laughable” to describe efforts to stop the federal government from ignoring the constitutional limitations on its power. I suppose that makes James Madison “bizarre” and “laughable” for penning Federalist 46.

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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.

*******

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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