Have you ever wondered if 300,000,000+ people, thousands of miles apart being ruled from one city makes any sense?
Have you ever felt that any single presidential administration or federal bureaucratic authority figure was acting unconstitutionally?
Have you ever been disgusted by a supreme court decision? How about laws passed by congress?
Have they all been the model of constitutionality?
Ever feel like their should be an easy way to fight back and re-claim your rights?
No? Well then, I would suggest this article is not for you.
However, if you ever have felt that the federal government is a poor choice to decide the limit to the powers of the federal government, that federal
laws have violated your rights, that wars have been fought unnecessarily, or simply that the government in power does not represent you and you wish
there was something that could be done, I have some information I would love to share with you...
What is Nullification? Quite simply, it is the thought that Individual States, either together or individually can and must refuse to enforce federal
laws that they find or the people of the State(s) find, to be unconstitutional.
Basically, Nullification is when a State ignores federal laws or mandates they have decided to be unconstitutional. Put another way, Nullification is
the way in which States can practice civil disobedience to the federal government.
The History of Nullification in the USA
If you have heard negative things about Nullification before, allow me the opportunity to present you with a detailed account of nullification you
may not have encountered.
Nullification first entered the political arena when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 writing
The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798
...to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers,
the members of the general government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are
assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the
compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they
would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them...
James Madison echoed these sentiments in his Virginia Resolutions of 1798 writing
The Virginia Resolutions of 1798
...and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties
thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective
limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them...
Certainly this was not the first instance in which it was asserted that States have the right and the duty to oppose and resist any federal exercise
of power that goes beyond those that had been strictly delegated to them. In the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788, Federalist supporters of the
constitution insisted that the federal government would possess only the powers "expressly delegated" to it, and that Virginia would be
"exonerated" should the federal government ever reach for a power beyond those delegated. Other States had similar exchanges at their ratifying
James Madison expressed that to understand the Constitution one should look to the state ratifying conventions, for it was there that the people were
instructed with what the new document meant.
So Nullification is certainly credible and inline with the constitution as well as aligning with American values and law. That being said, has
Nullification ever been used in USA History?
Examples of Nullification in History
The threat of nullification was used by Jefferson and Madison in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798.
Various Northern States used Nullification against the unconstitutional searches and seizures committed by the federal government during their embargo
enacted between 1807 - 1809.
Daniel Webster and the legislature of Connecticut used the threat of Nullification to urge States to protect their citizens from unconstitutional
conscription (the draft) in the months leading up to the war of 1812.
Nullification was used by various northern States during the slavery period to fight fugitive slave laws as well as by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin
against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, in which Wisconsin declared the law unconstitutional and void as well as citing the Kentucky Resolutions of
1798 and 1799 for their authority.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but some may say, yea, this is history now, how can we use it today?
Modern Examples of Nullification
States have practiced Nullification to defy the federal government over medical marijuana, the REAL ID act of 2005, health care legislation, cap and
trade legislation, second amendment violations, and various other examples. The problem States are having today in enforcing their nullification
attempts are federal bureaucratic organizations that claim supreme authority and a dependence of the federal government and the money that is supplied
from the federal government to the States.
In modern times, it is assumed, incorrectly, that the federal government has supreme authority over the states through the supremacy clause and other
such misinterpretations of the constitution. Even a passing glance at the history of the United States and the intent and expressions of the
ratifying conventions prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these are indeed misinterpretations.
It is also of note to say that the word Nullification is now seldom used as it has gained a reputation, sometimes deserved but mostly undeserved as
being "bad" or "evil". It is more commonly now simply stated as "State Rights" in many cases and when a State attempts to use Nullification, it
is presumed that the State is asserting the rights it holds. Some would argue the States have no such rights, but, I feel that has already been
proven to the contrary by simply examining the history of States and their use of Nullification.
continued in next post...