Answering Objections to Nullification

On May 17th, Arizona Tea Party activist, Steve Weston, was interviewed on a Blog Talk Radio show called,  Crossroads with Van.  I hope you will check out the show and tune in often!

This particular interview introduced the topic of state nullification and addressed the question of whether its use is constitutional or not.

I wanted to appear on the show as the other guest, in order to champion nullification, but unfortunately, my work schedule did not permit it. However, you can listen to the entire interview by clicking HERE. And you can also listen to a previous debate between Steve Weston and Professor Kevin R.C. Gutzman by clicking HERE

Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts meant to clarify some of the issues raised in the interview, to correct some of the errors that Mr. Weston made concerning the history of nullification and to share some observations and insights that I gained from listening to the interview.

Who’s the Authority?

At the beginning of the interview, Mr. Weston mentioned that he considered Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to be the two most authoritative writers on the subject, with Madison’s writings carrying the most weight, in his opinion.

While I agree that Jefferson and Madison were two of the most important figures when it came to articulating and clarifying the doctrine of nullification  (what would eventually come to be known as the Principles of ‘98), I would like to point out that arguments in favor of nullification go all the way back to the ratification debates (especially in Virginia), and were instrumental in persuading those opposed to the Constitution’s ratification.

Also, a number of other brilliant, although younger patriots, whose lives overlapped with those of Jefferson and Madison’s, were also important champions of nullification. Their insights and arguments concerning the nature and character of the Union need to be considered as well. The arguments I’ve always made in favor of state nullification have never been based on the ideas or writings of one, or just a few, founders, framers or ratifiers. One has to to look at the big picture, and listen to the many voices that were all part of this long debate, both before, during and after the Constitution’s ratification.

But back to the radio interview…


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I’ve been saying that this is what needs to happen for more than a decade. Perhaps a majority of the people who reside in what is known to be the more left-leaning, southern parts of our state, have long been fed up with the north’s social and fiscal conservatism. Now they are completely outraged over our movement to nullify every last federal act that a majority of our state legislators deem to be unconstitutional, but which they consider to be perfectly within the sphere of legitimate federal power.


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Less than a year ago, I invited an outspoken critic of state nullification, State Senator Jim Whelan of New Jersey,  to debate New York Times best selling author, Thomas E.Woods Jr. on my Blog Talk Radio show. Tom Woods was ready and willing, but not surprisingly, even after attempting to reach Sen. Whelan by phone…


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