theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

States react to fed agenda with nullification

'What that means is an effort to try to push back against an overreaching government'


Bob Unruh
On the heels of a recent poll that said 29 percent of registered voters believe an “armed revolution” may be needed in America to restore liberties, a second poll said Americans already have figured out a solution – reject federal laws that are unconstitutional.
Now it appears on issues ranging from Obamacare to guns, from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, lawmakers are listening. And nullification is starting to encroach onto legislative language.
At Alabama’s, a report noted that nullification was tried when Washington ordered desegregation.
However, “Nullification efforts today are not just found in the Deep South. Today state lawmakers from Washington state to Pennsylvania are passing state legislation aimed at hosts of federal laws they see as unconstitutional.”
The report continued, “Thirty-plus states, including Alabama, have passed various laws attempting to exempt themselves from having to implement the federal healthcare overhaul passed in 2010, so called Obamacare. States, most notably Arizona and Alabama, have passed controversial immigration laws aimed at regulating illegal immigration Both states have seen federal courts strike key provisions of the laws saying they are unconstitutional and that the authority for regulating immigration is a federal, not a state power.”
That that doesn’t even touch the long list of states that have adopted, or are working on, various plans to nullify federal gun restrictions.
At the Washington Times, a commentary said supporters of the idea “see it as a necessary and effective tool to protect states and citizens from the every-growing power of the federal government.”
The report continued, “Its first advocates were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who drafted the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which declared, ‘Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.’”
Even Barack Obama has used it. He and Attorney General Eric Holder conspired to announce they would no longer enforce or defend the federal law that was adopted during an earlier federal administration, the Defense of Marriage Act.
They simply announced the government no longer would defend the law, resulting in a series of bar association complaints over ethics violations for federal attorneys involved. They simply one day were defending the law in court, and then next day undermining it, critics have pointed out.
The Times reported, “Over a dozen states, with South Carolina being the most recent, have passed legislation aimed at preventing the Obamacare health care mandate from being enforced in their jurisdictions. South Carolina’s goes the furthest by proposing to grant taxpayers a state tax deduction equal to the federal penalty for failing to purchase health care.”
The report said on the issue of guns, Montana, Alabama and Kansas lately joined the battle by adopting laws preventing federal gun-control enforcement within their borders.
The Times noted, “Even liberals are joining the trend. In California, the state Senate has joined dozens of other states in approving legislation designed to prevent the president from executing the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.”
And Washington and Colorado simply ignored federal law and approved the legal use of marijuana.
Fox News reported in Missouri the movement came together to create a proposal that would declare all federal gun regulations unenforceable.
Rep. Doug Funderburk said, “We have the authority to enforce these laws. We are trying to position us so that we in this state can have safer neighborhoods.”
The idea there was that the state itself would sue on behalf of patients who may be endangered by Obama’s health care plan.
The proposal said, “Whenever the attorney general has reasonable cause to believe that a person or business is being harmed by implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state against such person or entity causing the harm…”
The Tenth Amendment Center monitors such activity, concluded that of South Carolina: “The fact that the assembly is willing to make constitutional determinations on a federal act already ruled constitution by the Supreme Court is historic. No other state is doing this…”
At Freedomworks, a commentary explains that the federal government “only has about 30 enumerated powers delegated to it in the Constitution. According to the Tenth Amendment, any issue not found in the U.S. Constitution should be left up to individual states to decide.”
Now, the commentary explains, “The United States has gone grossly astray … The federal government is involved in nearly every aspect of our daily lives from what foods we put into our bodies to what we’re allowed to watch on television.”
Freedomworks said the attitude was explained by U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., who said, “The federal government can do most anything in this country.”
The earlier poll on armed revolution was by Fairleigh Dickinson University. It said that among Republicans, 44 percent think armed revolution soon might be needed.
On the general question of “nullification,” 44 percent believe states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Thirty-six percent disagree and 20 percent are undecided, the pollsters said.
Nullification previously has been used as a legal argument to overturn everything from pro-slavery laws on, always unsuccessfully to date. The U.S. Supreme Court contends that under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal law is superior to state law and that federal courts have the final say on interpreting the Constitution.
But some states are simply saying no.
Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, said there are many ways to nullify a law.
“The courts can strike a law down. The executive branch could refuse to enforce it. People in large numbers might refuse to comply. A number of states could pass a law making its enforcement illegal. Or a number a states could refuse to cooperate in any way with its enforcement.”
During the 2012 election alone, nearly a dozen states voted on measures that literally snubbed Washington’s authority, ranging from marijuana to Obamacare.
As WND reported, Arizona and Montana reviewed proposals that would set up standing state commissions to review “all existing federal statutes, mandates, and executive orders” to determine their constitutionality.
The commissions would recommend to state lawmakers whether or not any particular federal plan should be nullified in that state.
Weighing in on the subject, WND columnist Walter Williams argued that “moral people” can’t rely only on courts to determine what is right and wrong.
“Suppose Congress enacted a law – and the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional – requiring American families to attend church services at least three times a month,” he wrote. “Should we obey such a law? Suppose Congress, acting under the Constitution’s commerce clause, enacted a law requiring motorists to get eight hours of sleep before driving on interstate highways. Its justification might be that drowsy motorists risk highway accidents, and accidents affect interstate commerce. Suppose you were a jury member during the 1850s and a free person were on trial for assisting a runaway slave, in clear violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. Would you vote to convict and punish?
“A moral person would find each one of those laws either morally repugnant or to be a clear violation of our Constitution. You say, ‘Williams, you’re wrong this time. In 1859, in Ableman v. Booth, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 constitutional.’ That court decision, as well as some others in our past, makes my case. Moral people can’t rely solely on the courts to establish what’s right or wrong. Slavery is immoral; therefore, any laws that support slavery are also immoral. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, ‘to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.’”

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