Nullification Efforts On The Rise

States who are growing tired of the overreaching tentacles of the federal government have been enacting legislation that tells the Feds “no” on issues ranging from medical marijuana, gun control, healthcare and drivers’ licenses. The Associated Press reported that by its analysis, about four-fifths of the states have such laws:

“The recent trend began in Democratic leaning California with a 1996 medical marijuana law and has proliferated lately in Republican strongholds like Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback this spring became the first to sign a measure threatening felony charges against federal agents who enforce certain firearms laws in his state. Some states, such as Montana and Arizona, have said ‘no’ to the feds again and again — passing states’ rights measures on all four subjects examined by the AP — despite questions about whether their ‘no’ carries any legal significance…. About 20 states have enacted measures challenging Obama’s 2010 health care laws, many of which specifically reject the provision mandating that most people have health insurance or face tax penalties beginning in 2014.”

The AP quoted Adam Winkler, a Constitutional Law professor at UCLA, regarding these nullification efforts. “The law is clear,” he said. “The supremacy clause (of the U.S. Constitution) says specifically that the federal laws are supreme over contrary state laws, even if the state doesn’t like those laws.”

But what if these laws are bad and unconstitutional? These big government types never quote the whole “Supremacy Clause” from Article VI of the Constitution. Here’s the text, and I’m going to leave out a key phrase that completely changes the sense of the clause. See if you can figure out what I left out:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

That’s exactly how these big government advocates read the Supremacy Clause. But there’s a key phrase that’s been taken out. The text from Article VI, Clause 2 includes the phrase “which shall be made in pursuance thereof.” In context, it reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land…

If the feds enact laws that violate the Constitution, states should consider those laws null and void. Nullification is another check and balance on a system comprised of sinful human beings who are given to errors in judgment. The feds are going to make bad laws, because right now, they’re power hungry. I don’t care if a judge agrees with them. There has to be a way to counteract bad, unconstitutional federal laws. And nullification is that “rightful remedy,” as Thomas Jefferson called it.