In response to my latest column I received an e-mail from Bill Walker, co-founder of the Friends of the Article V Convention. The text of the e-mail was also posted as a comment on the original post.

My point with this post isn’t to burn bridges or start some feud between organizations that have similar goals in mind, namely restricting federal power. But I do think it’s important to understand both what we’re up against and where each organization comes from. So, with that in mind, allow me to expand on a few points by addressing Mr. Walker’s comments.

He writes: “[Joel Poindexter] provides no proof where any judge has ever ruled the states have such authority [to use nullification].”

This assumes that the states need approval from the Feds before they can nullify the Feds, and as the title of this post states, “we don’t need no stinking [judges].” And to that point, let me first suggest that if any judge with any clout ever ruled that a state can nullify an unconstitutional “law,” as determined by that state, we’d likely be in far better shape. Any judge who would side with a state on this issue isn’t likely to acquiesce to federal overreach in the first place, and since judges are appointed to the bench by politicians, we’d have to assume this judge had a similar outlook on federalism.

It’s because judges aren’t overturning unlawful “laws” that nullification is even necessary, so who needs them? That’s sort of the point of nullification; it essentially removes the Feds from the equation, since by the time a state has decided to nullify something, the Feds must have failed somewhere in the process. Whether it’s a legislature with an overly broad interpretation of the commerce clause, an executive who decides to write his own laws or a court without the moral fiber to strike down one of the former, nullification is the answer.

Next, Walker moves into promoting a constitutional convention: “Given an Article V Convention has had [nullification] on its agenda since 1832….”

Ok, stop right there. For those not keeping track at home, 1832 was 180 years ago. I mean at what point should we expect a convention to be held and for an amendment to be ratified? It’s certainly well and good that a provision like this exists; it gives the states another tool against federal bureaucrats and politicians who exceed their so-called limits on power.

My point however, is that nullification has a rich history beginning over two hundred years ago and continuing through today. It has been used to defend free speech; to resist trade wars and ground wars; to prevent kidnapping and slavery; to defend private property; and to protect individuals from Big Brother and the police state. That seems like a pretty good track record, and one I’ll gladly stand with.

And finally, Walker concludes by making my point for me: “Obviously [Poindexter] also chooses to ignore or is not aware of the fact that over 700 applications from 49 states already exist for a convention call. The Constitution mandates a call when 34 states submit 34 applications.”

Again, at which point will even one of those seven hundred applications be considered and curtail the Feds?

Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that a convention was held last night and a new 28th Amendment was adopted at midnight. This hypothetical amendment was passed as written and the process was not co-opted. Note: I can’t stress enough how extremely important these two last points are, or how remote their chances.

What now?

Does anyone really believe that anything will change? Does anyone think for one moment that politicians and bureaucrats who paid no heed to the constitution before will suddenly take notice and get in line?

I don’t think so either.

In fact, this approach seems almost as fruitless as voting bums out. So with that in mind, and in the words of the bandito from Blazing Saddles referenced above: “vamanos!”

Joel Poindexter
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