Recent talk of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws has been rampant, and now that u201CObamacareu201D has been passed, I’m sure many more nullification resolutions and bills will be forthcoming. Already, many state attorneys general have filed suit against the federal government’s plan to force the purchase of u201Chealth insurance.u201D But as Judge Andrew Napolitano recently pointed out in this interview, these efforts are little more than governors attempting to make a splash in order to gain favor with voters. These efforts, whether legitimate or not, will do little or nothing to actually void the fed’s new law. But this seems to be the case with most all empty nullification resolutions and bills; they go nowhere because no other action is taken by the states or by the sovereign individuals residing in those states. This in my opinion is a major problem.
Recently, Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, penned an article about nullification and the Tenth Amendment movement. It is informative because he lists all the different nullification efforts currently in place, and they are numerous. In fact, there are so many it is virtually impossible to keep up with all of them. In addition, more are evident all the time. I think this process more politically motivated than anything else, and of little use in the real world. According to his article, there are now nullification efforts concerning:
- 10th Amendment Resolutions
- 10th Amendment Bills
- Firearms Freedom Act
- Medical Marijuana Laws
- REAL ID
- Health Care
- Bring the Guard Home
- Constitutional Tender
- Cap and Trade
- Federal Tax Funds Act
- Sheriffs First Legislation
- Federal Gun Laws
- Regulation of Intrastate Commerce
Besides all of these, several more are in the pipeline. Why?
Considering the way the current nullification process is handled, some believe that if enough states get on board, some federal legislation can be delayed, and others think that if there is massive state resistance, this legislation can be in practice rendered null and void. Considering the long term, I completely disagree. As far as I can tell, liberty, freedom and civil rights have deteriorated constantly and consistently regardless of any makeshift efforts to stop it by the false state nullification process, or as I see it: nullification in name only. This deterioration has been going on for decades, and currently the total annihilation of our rights is in high gear. Real nullification requires action, not words, and the teeth behind current and past nullifications have been missing.
My attitude is certainly different than that of constitutional scholars, but are most mainstream constitutional scholars correct in their thinking? I don’t really care if a constitutional lawyer says that government-forced health insurance or any other welfare scheme is constitutional or not. In order to believe that, one would have to also believe that theft is then constitutional. I am perfectly competent enough to figure out what is right and what is wrong; constitution or not. But if one is going to refer to the constitution as the basis for dissent, then I think consistency is important. The ultimate nullification language is already in place in the constitution so why then all the angst? The Tenth Amendment states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Why put forth hundreds and hundreds of separate state nullification resolutions, bills and acts, when the preeminent nullification, the Tenth Amendment, already exists? Instead of continuing to draft worthless resolution after resolution, why not just refuse absolutely to comply with any federal law deemed unconstitutional by the state or by the people? Just do it! Simple, to the point, effective and easy!
Gaining agreement from some federal court (notice the term federal) to nullify the federal government is not likely. Why would the feds rule against themselves? It’s up to the states and more importantly to the people to decide what is constitutional or not. How can this decision be left up the very entity that is perpetrating the harm?
While we’re at it, why not nullify all the rest of the unconstitutional and anti-liberty legislation that has been forced upon us over the years? I say let’s nullify Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Prescription Drugs, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, mandatory Unemployment Insurance and Workers Comp. And let’s not stop there. How about nullifying the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, The FDA, the Federal Reserve, and most every other unconstitutional government agency that exists today? I think this would be a good start!
If those currently bringing forward nullification efforts were really serious, they would just do it! They would simply tell the feds based upon the Tenth Amendment of the constitution, that they would under no circumstances comply with any federal law deemed by the state to be unconstitutional or against liberty. Then if the feds attempted to force compliance, the state would have every right to defend itself and its people, and would then have a valid right to secede should that extreme measure become necessary.
Neil Siegel, professor of law at Duke University, in this very slanted interview on NPR with the brilliant Tom Woods said: u201CAny talk of nullification bothers me because it is talk of lawlessness.u201D This thinking of course is asinine and backwards, because nullification prevents lawlessness, it does not promote it. Siegel’s attitude is one that supports government as master of all things. In his mind, there should be no possibility of dissent where the federal government is concerned. If this was true, we might as well have a sovereign king ruling over us for life.
If we are to ever be a free people again, we will have to act like free people. Being free is not easy. It takes strength, determination, individual responsibility and guts! Standing up to the very powerful federal government is most definitely a challenge, but if we don’t, what will be the final outcome?
Real nullification is a way to guarantee more liberty. It is simply a method to an end, and that end is freedom. It does not have to be violent; quite the contrary. If all the states that are now filing suit and drafting nullification documents against the feds would just stand together, the feds would be overwhelmed. They would have little choice but to acquiesce to our demands. And all that would be required by the states is to actively and physically refuse to obey or enforce any bad federal law inside state borders. Considering the Tenth Amendment, the states have every right to do just that!
Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.