In Texas, legislators have already filed several bills for the 2017 legislative session that would effectively nullify some federal actions. Unsurprisingly, a federal supremacist journalist doesn’t like that, so he trotted out the tired old racism trope.

To his credit, in his article headlined Texas’ anti-federal bills echo defiance of the Jim Crow South, threaten marriage equality and gun regulation, Dallas Morning News reporter J. David McSwane shows he actually understands the anti-commandeering doctrine, and realizes that these Texas bills that would prohibit state cooperation with certain federal acts are perfectly constitutional. Near the end of the article, he writes, “Essentially, the Supreme Court has determined it’s up to the federal government to enforce federal laws, so the state can throw up its hands.”

But constitutional or not, McSwane doesn’t like it. He obviously believes any state attempts to limit federal authority are a “no-go”  – – because racism. The article represents his best effort to make this case. In the process, he leaves out vitally important historical context.

I sent J. David the following email. I am still eagerly awaiting his response.

Dear Mr. McSwane,

I’m curious about your recent article “Texas’ anti-federal bills echo defiance of the Jim Crow South, threaten marriage equality and gun regulation.”

The intent is obviously to link, at least casually, any state efforts to undermine federal authority to racism, white supremacy and segregation. But in all the words you managed to spin out on the subject, you failed to even mention that before it was part of the segregationist playbook, it was a key chapter in the abolitionist playbook. You could have just as truthfully written:

“One bill, which could complicate everything from gun regulation to the issuance of gay marriage licenses, takes a play right out of the 1850s, when northern abolitionist lawmakers argued the Fugitive Slave Act was null and void.”

So, why the fixation on segregationist nullification efforts and no mention of abolitionist nullification efforts? Is it because you are ignorant of this period of history, or because it doesn’t fit the political narrative you want to advance? Just curious.

Mike Maharrey

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