Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nullification in 2011!

By Alan Caruba

The great issue of our times is the same great issue of the 1830s. The question is whether Congress can pass legislation or the President issue executive orders that are not authorized by or consistent with the Constitution?

The federal government is a republic composed of separate and sovereign republics.

What recourse do the States have individually and in combination when the central government acts in a fashion that is contrary to the limits and enumerated powers of the Constitution?

The answer, other than an appeal to the courts, is nullification. This term is defined as the assertion that States can and should refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws.

This is no trifling matter.

In the past two years since the advent of the Obama administration, the federal government has seized control of one sixth of the nation’s economy, asserting control over the provision of healthcare.

It seized control of General Motors and Chrysler auto manufacturers, arbitrarily casting aside the rightful expectations of their bondholders and other creditors.

It has imposed absurd and invasive demands on air travelers.

It is considering a United Nations treaty that would render the Second Amendment null and void.

It has sued Arizona for enacting an immigration law that mirrors its own.

It is attempting through the FCC to assert control over the Internet.

In the 1860s the issue of state’s rights led to the Civil War.

One hundred and fifty years ago, on December 22, 1860, the State of South Carolina declared its independence and seceded from the Union. It did not arrive at this decision overnight. In fact, on December 10, 1832, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation to South Carolina disputing its right to nullify a federal law.

A South Carolina convention had declared that the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 “are unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate the true meaning and intent thereof and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State.”

Subsequent to Jackson’s proclamation, Congress passed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any State that resisted the tariff acts. A compromise engineered by Henry Clay resulted in the tariff of 1833, designed to reduce southern objections. South Carolina ended its nullification effort, but by 1861 it would no longer bend to the mandates of the federal government.

Contrary to some historical reinterpretation, the Civil War was all about State’s rights. Though President Lincoln opposed slavery, he did not introduce the issue into the conflict until after the awful slaughter on the battlefields that led to the Emancipation Proclamation. It came three years after the war had begun and was intended to introduce a moral dimension to the conflict. Slaves, however, were only freed in the Confederate southern States.

There are many issues worthy of nullification these days.

At the top of the current list is Obamacare and the fact that some twenty States have filed suit against its enforcement clearly demonstrates (1) an intense rejection of it and (2) the willingness of States to use the judicial system to seek relief.

Beyond that, we have entire federal agencies that have no legitimate basis in the Constitution.

The Department of Education should be abolished. The Constitution makes no mention of education as a federal concern. It was and should be up to the States and local communities to oversee general education. Part of the controversy raging these days concerns teacher’s union contracts that are contributing to the bankruptcy of many States.

The Department of Energy, created by executive order, should be abolished. States should have the right to determine how their natural resources should be either protected or utilized. Requiring states to use so-called alternative (wind and solar) energy is seriously wrong.

Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency, also created by executive order, has so exceeded its original mandate that it has become a lethal threat to the economy and the welfare of all Americans.

Nullification should be utilized to rid us of these and other federal entities that overstep their mission, threatening the Bill of Rights and other constitutional limitations and freedoms.

To learn more about the nullification movement, visit the Nullify Now website and the website of the Tenth Amendment Foundation.

This nation has been heading toward nullification since the 1930s when many of the Constitution’s restrictions of federal power were cast aside. This has brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse. To save it, nullification may be required.

Editor’s note: To learn more about this topic, Tom Woods has written “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 2lst Century.”

© Alan Caruba, 2010


LarryOldtimer said...

Excellent article, Alan.

TexasFred said...

If we could nullify the entire last 2 years, and remove the most useless POS to ever inhabit the Oval Office, I would feel pretty good...

But, if the incoming Congress can get it all nullified, well, there may be a chance for America yet...

Carolyn said...

Sounds good to me Mr. Caruba! I agree with Texas Fred too- if we can nullify the past 2 years, along with all the useless "departments" and programs, America may be recognizable again! God Bless and Happy New Year!

Ronbo said...

As I've said many times before, a Second American Revolution is brewing in the Tea Pot - The nullification movement gaining in popularity in the various states are revolutionary actions designed to end the federal government as we know it.

Thus the fuse to the power keg has been lit and glows brightly in the dark winter American night.

The explosion when it comes will shake the world, because our Imperial Federal Government knows its days are numbered when it allows nullification to stand.

The Feds will resist with force.

There will be war.


Alan Caruba said...

Ronbo: You are way to eager for a revolution. That said, it took some 30 years for South Carolina to conclude it had no alternative other than to secede. By then the rest of the South felt much the same way.

A change in the White House will follow the recent mditerns and, with the right man, can begin to set things right again.

LarryOldtimer said...

I dunno. My observations (both as a government employee and working in private industry organizations) indicate that both will take things which are working reasonably well and fix them and go on refixing them until they are broken beyond any repair.

As I once heard said by an auto mechanic, "The only way to fix this car is to jack up the radiator cap, drive a new car under it, and then replace the radiator cap."

I don't like the thought of it personally . . . revolutions rarely work out as intended. Still, it may be the only way to deal with our present situation.

"Should have read that detour sign."

Ronbo said...

@Alan: We will have to agree to disagree - I see the machine getting ready to fly apart in the new year when any number of things could cause the explosion.

Will Harmon said...

I totally agree with the idea of nullifying useless federal bureaus and departments. I also advocate elimination of the entire tax code in favor of a national consumption (sales) tax with no loopholes to catch the river of illegal money flowing underground. We could get rid of the entire IRS saving in excess of $500 billion a year. In reality, elimination (nullification) is not easy in practice. There are not enough real jobs in the private sector to absorb all the displaced federal employees. The unemployment rate would jump to over 60%.

LeeNTerry said...

A little known fact. Prior to the civil war the south had agreed to phase out slavery and they also put that in writing in the "Constitution of the Confererate States of America." The north did not attack the south to free the slaves but rather for the same reasons that have caused most wars. MONEY and POWER.

cmblake6 said...

Most basically, what Fred said. If we can get TEH ONE proven either illegal or ineligible, or if we can simply nullify these actions through the 10th Amendment, or for that matter use the very UN-Constitutionality of many of these federal enactments, we're golden.