Are the States entitled to reject laws they deem unconstitutional? And what about juries in trials? Can they nullify laws they don’t agree with?
The vast majority of Americans, indeed ANY nationalities, bristle at the thought of their country losing its “unity”, or their governments being “too seriously” undermined. It’s not infrequent that any opposition to the fundamental laws of a country, or as in the case of the the US, insisting on State sovereignity, is seen as revisionist, secessionist or even treasonous. But more often than not, these voices of opposition are greatly misunderstood.
In case of “state nullification”, the issue is ostensibly not to undermine the legal integrity of the US, but rather to reinforce it! America is historically “exceptional” not because it is LIKE its European counterparts, only better – it’s exceptional in its founding principles because the legal sovereigns are *the people* – represented by their States. The nullification movement strives not to disintegrate or weaken the country, but rather to unify and strengthen it. But – not through conformity to unconstitutional laws, but through their rejection.
- If the Supreme Court declares a law constitutional, does it make it so? This depends on your interpretation of the constitution. Historians, legal and constitutional scholars are greatly divided on this issue, but there is a greatly increasing momentum now which is slowly beginning to turn the tide in favor of the “revisionists”. This so-called “revisionist” position is logically and historically sound and poses an increasing dilemma to the powers that be. There is even a danger that those who espouse such revisionist views will be “targeted” or branded as “terrorists! In fact… it’s already happening… (see links at the end)”
- The nullification movement’s mission is to invalidate laws which are, in its view, unconstitutional. The recommended way to accomplish this is by individual states simply refusing the enforce those laws. A complimentary movement is the so-called “jury nullification”. This is where jurors have the right to rule basing on their conscience, and not in accordance with a law which they declare to be unconstitutional or unjust.
- The (majority) of public and legal opinion is currently dead-set against the very notion. “The civil war settled that question” is a frequent pseudo-rebuttal. They believe that whatever is declared by the Government and the Supreme Court as constitutional IS constitutional and it is therefore wrong to question it or oppose it. It’s not just the Left which tows the “Statist” line. The “Right” is also vehemently opposed to States having the rights to overturn Federal dictums. It would seem that the nullification movement is driven primarily by the Libertarian factions (both left- and right-libertarians).
When you’re confronted with a law that just doesn’t “feel right” or which you personally view as immoral – do you shrug your shoulders and say “yea, but it’s the law?” Or do you say “that can’t be right, we need to repeal this law?” MOST people think the latter… but do the first. The nullification movement is not anti-government per se. It’s anti bad government and against violations of the constitution. It’s therefore my view that far from being “un-American” to talk about nullification, it’s the opposite. NOT talking about the nullification of illegal or unjust laws is not merely un-American but quite simply immoral!
- Nullification, by Tom Woods
- You too are a terrorist now