WHAT IT IS NOT.  Nullification is not secession or insurrection, but neither is it unconditional or unlimited submission. Nullification is not something that requires any decision, statement or action from any branch of the federal government. Nullification is not the result of obtaining a favorable court ruling.

IN THE BEGINNING.  Nullification has a long history in the American tradition and has been invoked in support of free speech, in opposition to war and fugitive slave laws and more. These principles are currently being invoked in the sovereign states within the republic in response to unconstitutional federal laws.

THE KENTUCKY & VIRGINIA RESOLUTIONS.  In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general (federal) government” and “where powers are assumed (by the general government) which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”

James Madison, in his Virginia Resolution of 1798, asserted the core premise of all nullification laws—that State governments not only have the right to resist unconstitutional Federal acts, but that, in order to protect liberty, they are “duty bound to interpose” or stand between the federal government and the people of their state.

RESISTANCE BEGINS AT HOME.  Nullification begins with a decision made in your state legislature to resist federal law deemed to be unconstitutional. It usually involves a bill, which is passed by both houses and is signed by the governor. It may change your state’s statutory law or it might even amend the state constitution. Nullification is a refusal on the part of your state to cooperate with, or enforce, federal law(s) or regulation(s) the state deems to be unconstitutional.

Source: “Principles of Nullification” brochure, Tenth Amendment Center, http://tenthamendmentcenter.com

Steve Baysinger
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