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November 9, 2012
The Nullification Movement
One thing overlooked in the uproar surrounding the election is the nullification of federal narcotics law in Washington state and Colorado. If these laws are allowed to stand without challenge from Eric Holder's Justice Department, then the green light is on for nullifying any federal law -- including ObamaCare.
Nullification is based upon the principle that is best described in the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:
"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."
This simple statement asserts that no government may impose its will upon the people without their consent and that if the people make it known that they do not consent then the imposition is nullified. The very first time that a nullification resolution was passed in our history was the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 to nullify the Alien and Sedition acts. The author of this resolution was Thomas Jefferson, who had to write the resolution in secret because if it were known that he was opposed to these acts, he would have been imprisoned, even though he was vice president at the time.
Jefferson had help from another of the founding fathers, James Madison. Madison wrote the Virginia Resolution, which nullified the Alien and Seditions Acts in Virginia. These nullification resolutions were never tested in court since in the next presidential election Jefferson became president, repealed the laws and pardoned all those who had been imprisoned under the Alien and Seditions acts. The idea of nullification became popular again in the decade leading up to the War Between the States as many northern states nullified fugitive slave laws.
"This is a symbolic victory for advocates, but it will be short-lived. They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition."
But as of yet, agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency have not made a show of force by kicking in the doors of local head shops and hauling shopkeepers off to jail.
If the federal government does take action, it will likely be via lawsuit. They will argue the Supremacy Clause of the constitution. But the Supremacy Clause is not a slam dunk as some would have you think. In Federalist Paper #46 titled, "The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared," Madison comments on the idea of supremacy:
"These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone...."
Ultimately, if the federal government loses, then nullification will be used to do away with many overreaching federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, which has shut down agriculture in California, or to the Clean Air Act, which threatens to cause rolling blackouts across the nation.
But Colorado and Washington are not alone in the nullification movement; six other states are challenging federal law. Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming all passed measures guaranteeing health-care freedom, and Massachusetts approved a measure to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
Last spring, Virginia passed legislation prohibiting state and local agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise indefinite detention without due process under the National Defense Authorization Act.
The nullification movement is alive and well, and growing exponentially, and as a result the beltway bandits may see their power greatly diminished.
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