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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Case for Nullification

Nullification is the act of states refusing, or nullifying, laws imposed by the federal government that the states consider to be unconstitutional. The supposition is that nullification is itself unconstitutional, but upon further investigation, it might not be so.

First of all, the Constitution is essentially a contract between the states and the federal government. The contract called for each of the states to cede some aspects of self-government to the federal government so that the federal government could act for the general good of all of the states. One of the powers the states granted to the federal government was the ability to collect taxes, duties and imposts in order to provide for the common defense. The "common defense" was meant to give all of the states a stake in the attack on any individual state.

This very simple understanding has fallen from common discussions on the issue, because the federal government has gone outside of its mandate. It is difficult now to look at some of the things the federal government has done, such as Social Security, and see it for what is: an abuse of power. The mind asks the obvious question of "who else could do it?" The mind is not trained to ask the more appropriate question of "why couldn't the states do it for themselves?"

All that has been done by looking to the federal government to satisfy some social desire is to give power where it does not belong and is harder to revoke. Where the people of one state might find Social Security to be a financial disaster, it is unable to extricate itself from the federal obligation. If Social Security, or something like it, were a state program it would be much easier for the people to determine the future of the program as the state would owe its fealty to no other.

The best Constitutional argument for Nullification can be found at Publius Huldah's blog.

I won't go into it better than that, so go there and read for yourself. The point is that if we are to return to a Constitutional Republic, which we have not been for a long time, it will take some serious readjustments to our ways of thinking. We have got to stop relying on the federal government to provide for us if we expect to be able to control the budgets and destinies of our states. Perhaps the upcoming civil unrest will give us the opportunity to put federalism back into the box, but it will not be possible if the Constitutionally-motivated people remain distant and apart from each other; if Threepers refuse to engage and cooperate with Tea Parties and 912's; if the conservative cross-section does not embrace each aspect the statists will quickly and permanently draw power to itself and re-write the Constitution to give all power to the federal government and the very concept of limitation will be lost forever. Liberty will be a slogan used by statists to justify collectivism.

Tom Woods speech on Nullification.


  1. Well put.
    I disagree with one thing you say, and it's a minor nit-pick. You say the "Mind is not trained to ask...". while I say the "Mind has been indoctrinated NOT to ask".
    Otherwise, we're in complete agreement.

  2. Well, I'll accept that correction.

  3. Tom Woods had a good video on this recently.

  4. I just received Tom Woods book on nullification. While I think (as I said in an earlier post) that nullification is a perfectly logical thing otherwise we would have no need for states, the chances of it working are zero to none. And therein lies the problem...

  5. I guess my only response to that is that we are not captives to our government. As they found out in Tunisia and Egypt, the government always serves at the pleasure of its citizenry. There is no government so brutal that it can rule beyond the acquiescense of the people. We are, if we choose to be, the only authority by which we are governed.

  6. Doctrines of Null and Void have been attempted before in this country and they lead to what We Southerners call...
    The War of Northern Aggression. Nullification will only function If...

    1. Enough States Will Nullify at the same time.
    (more than 25)
    2. That these States be Financially Stable.
    (I doubt that there are 25 Stable States today)
    3. That the "Citizens" of these States are willing to undergo the hardships that they Will endure because of the withdrawal of all Federal Assistance.
    (That would be something to see)
    4. That the State Legislators are able to keep their Governors feet to the fires.
    (cause ya know there are not 25 Governors with the Testosteronal Fortitude to Stand against the Federalizes)



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