There is all manner of talk going on these days about some vast, right-wing conspiracy, home-grown “terrorists” in the way of freedom loving, individualist, Conservative patriots, Constitutionalists, people of firm religious convictions and others among our ilk who have been demonized by the main stream media in the eyes of the general citizenry. For most of us, it may he easy and almost humorous as we shake the unfounded criticism off and go on about our lives. Unfortunately, there is a very real battle going on but not in the traditional sense. The battle that we are facing today as Conservatives is a battle for the minds, hearts and souls of the American people and the American Way of Life. If we are to have any hope at all of winning that war, we have to learn how to fight back. So what can we do as individuals to buck the system and help steer our once great and proud nation back onto course?
A great many people can see that our government blatantly refuses to follow the Constitution at all. Orders like those that approve operations such as Fast and Furious can only come from the upper most echelons of command. Had any local agency authorized such a scheme, even in the world of progressive justification, they would have been instantly thrown into the sacrificial pit under the bus. Nearly four years have gone by without so much as an effort being made to pass a Congressional or Federal Budget as is required by federal law. Ask people on the street and they automatically blame the republicans because that is what they are told. Never mind the fact that even someone like Boehner has made many efforts to get the budgets Obama and Reid have prepared to the floor for a vote only to be shot down by the leading Democrat in the senate. We see unconstitutional laws being passed at an alarming rate. The latest emotional, knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy at Sandy Hook is only one example of this, but perhaps it is also an opportunity to begin finding common ground with those who would otherwise oppose us. The answer is as simple as Nullification by the states and by we the people.
What is Nullification?
According to a rather strict, literal dictionary definition, here is the actual definition of Nullification.
a. The act of nullifying.
b. The state of being nullified.
2. Refusal or failure of a U.S. state to recognize or enforce a federal law within its boundaries.
Conveniently, it even points out one example where we as Conservatives can lawfully utilize the process or act of Nullification to neutralize or even blatantly disregard or oppose unjust, unconstitutional and illegal laws. A state may (and should) under the guidelines and considerations as set forth in the tenth amendment of the Constitution of these independent but United States of America, refuse to enforce a federal law that is in direct violation of either the State Constitution or the Constitution of these independent but United States of America. As you may well imagine, this is not very likely to go over well with the federal bureaucracies so is there any historical precedent for taking such “drastic and radical” measures?
The first real mention of the act of Nullification by the states actually goes back to the days of Jefferson and Madison. While it did not become widely known until the days of Andrew Jackson, it has a deeper history in both the Kentucky Resolution and the Virginia Resolution circa 1798-1799. The Kentucky Resolution was written by Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Resolution was written by James Madison. While the two had been fierce opponents under the guise of the Classical Liberal that was Jefferson and the almost fanatical Federalist nature of James Madison, Madison had been drawn into a more anti-federalist if not a Classical Liberal stance by this time based on what he saw the “American Aristocracy” or career politicians doing to “his” Constitution. These two documents provide the first historical reference for the ability of the state governments to “Nullify” or to declare unconstitutional and void, unjust and even illegal laws and regulations passed by the federal bureaucracy. The Nullification Resolutions were written as a direct response to the Alien and Sedition Acts proposed by the federal government. While the Alien Acts were never fully passed, the Sedition Act was and was, as Jefferson properly argued, quite blatantly unconstitutional on both State and federal levels. The fact that so many people including many journalists were prosecuted using the Sedition Act was the reasoning behind the States being individually forced by duty, honor and obligation to nullify such unconstitutional laws.
Perhaps the most well-known use of the Nullification Process was during the 1832 Crisis with South Carolina. Unfortunately, history as taught in most public institutions is very vague in regards to the presidency of Andrew Jackson and the many controversies that plagued his administration. This particular issue with South Carolina was regarding the excessive and burdensome tariffs placed on the Southern states by the federal bureaucracy. Ultimately, those tariffs did lead to the War of Northern Aggression or what most people commonly refer to as The American Civil War. That little trivial note aside, the people of the State of South Carolina ultimately decided that this particular law as passed was not only unfair but blatantly unconstitutional on both the State and federal levels.
In response, Andrew Jackson ordered military actions against the State of South Carolina though such force was never needed thanks in part to political maneuvering by the Senators from the State of South Carolina and to the concessions of the federal government in reducing the burdensome tariffs levied by the Congress over the period of the next decade. The reason that this particular instance of Nullification is largely ignored in this particular discussion is because the actual Act of Nullification never took place. Military force was never used to intervene and all of the parties involved did ultimately reach a questionable and sadly, temporary compromise.
Since those days, the Act of Nullification has been brought up in regards to many other hot political issues including the Fugitive Slave Act, the Legal Tender Act of 1862, many of the States that were opposed to the federal ban on Hemp, industrial hemp production of goods and other hemp related products during the early twentieth century as well as by many people and States opposed to the Unconstitutional banning or regulation of firearms from the time of the War of Northern Aggression all the way up until today. So yes, there is more than enough historical precedent for us to call for Nullification regarding many of the unjust and blatantly unconstitutional laws that we are being burdened by today. The only real question is are we willing to face the ensuing consequences when the bloated federal bureaucracy feels us tugging on its chains to hold it back?