Today in History: James Madison’s Veto of Infrastructure Spending in the Bonus Bill of 1817

On Mar. 1817, President James Madison vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817 – a plan that called for the federal construction of various roads, bridges, and canals throughout the country. In a letter to Congress, the president explained his rationale. Out of all historical writings on constitutional interpretation, I believe it stands today as one of the most important.

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“But nullification isn’t listed in the Constitution!”

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Every once in awhile, someone tells us, “The Constitution doesn’t say anything about nullification. That means states simply can’t do it.”

But they’ve got things totally backwards.

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