South Carolina is looking to resist the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, the South Carolina House passed H.3101. But the bill taking a first step towards nullifying Obamacare never got a vote in the Senate. It remains alive in the 2014 session. A special committee, headed by S.C. Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort recently traveled the state, conducting townhall meetings and gathering public opinion.

In reporting on this development, the Aiken Standard claims that nullification is not a valid tactic. In its editorial of November 12, the Aiken writes, “…that responsibility is in the hands of Congress, not the state legislature.”

This may be a common modern opinion, but it’s not in alignment with the views of the Constitution’s framers and ratifiers. James Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote clearly and passionately laying out the blueprint to nullify unconstitutional federal acts in Federalist #46,

“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States…the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”

But isn’t this rebellion?

No. It is what Jefferson called “the rightful remedy” to keep the federal government in check.

The States are sovereign political societies that agreed to create our Union: a gossamer overlay to link the States as a free-trade zone under a pact against external aggression. With that in mind, I’d ask you to pause for a moment and turn your ideas of rebellion around. When the federal government over-reaches, it is the federal government that is rebelling against the States. This means that the States, in nullifying, are putting down an unlawful rebellion by the federal government.

Of course, this must be the route. The federal government, whether we look to its executive, legislative or judicial branches, has no motivation to limit itself. A thief doesn’t usually put himself in jail when he steals. So, the people via their States must push back against federal tyranny.

Who else can?

Susan Kennison

The 10th Amendment

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