Why All the Angst Over Nullification? Just Do It!

by: Gary D. Barnett

Recent talk of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws has been rampant, and now that “Obamacare” 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 “health insurance.” 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:

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.

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