What the Nullifiers Aren’t Telling You

The Nullification proponents in your state are trying to perfect the Constitution by destroying what it built.  And you are being led to believe they are constitutionalists, and have in their minds, the only constitutional method for getting us out of the mess we find ourselves in.  But the truth is, using activism to convince State legislators to enact legislation meant to nullify federal laws, using their definition of making them null and void in the State, and working to link many States together against the federal government, destroys the very constitution they say they love.  And really, that is exactly what they are trying to do, and they aren’t telling you.

The nullifiers plod along, gathering grassroots activists together, and spin a tale that if they work together to convince key legislators to propose bills that void federal law, that liberty will soon be around the corner.  But the liberty they seek is only born through rejecting the constitution’s bands between the federal government and the states.

The warped mentality that you can perfect the constitution by destroying it is something they will deny, but there is no other end result to what they are proposing, and history proves this out in the counter-resolutions in direct reaction to the Kentucky and Virginia Nullification Resolutions.  Modern nullifiers use the Resolutions to prove that nullification is one, a right, and two, what the framers have used in the past in response to unconstitutional measures taken by the federal government.  They don’t tell you that upon receiving those resolutions, other states rebuked Virginia and Kentucky for suggesting the break up of  the union.

I often marvel at the cleverness of some of the framers, their ability to arouse public passion by doing things they knew wouldn’t fly, in order to gain a political edge.  That is another thing the nullifiers deny, the political aspect of a lot of the things done in the past and done now to arouse the passions of the people.

Nullifiers begin and end with a laundry list of powers the federal government has used when it has no authority to do so.  On that, most constitutionalists agree.  Yes, we have a vast federal government whose reach has gotten far too significant and obtrusive.  But their solution, to fester public resentment toward the type of government that the constitution established works to break apart the compact under which it was created.

I know I just used the word compact, and though there is argument about what type of government the constitution created, (if you want to read scholarly work on it, please read this Rob Natelson piece) it did not create a series of States that are independent of each other, and of the federal government.  In fact, it is my belief that most nullifiers would have rather kept the Articles of Confederation, rather than adopt the constitution, and that belief is born out of arguing with them and finding out that many of their arguments for State nullification hinge on what they thought people believed during ratification, and substitute that, rather than the intent of the framers.

But keeping the Articles of Confederation was never going to happen.  As Mark Levin points out in his book The Liberty Amendments, ten of the twelve states went to the convention with blessings to throw out the Articles of Confederation.  They did not work.  And when you spend time going through all of the nullifier’s claims, you realize their work is either a huge waste of time and effort, or a direct assault on the constitution itself, under the guise of your local friendly liberty group.

The nullifiers believe in a Utopia of sorts.  Not like Thomas More’s, but one of individual State Republics, answerable to no one, connected to none other.  That dream is an impossibility, and has already been tried and failed through the Articles of Confederation which led to the Constitution.  But one student of nullification let the cat out of the bag when arguing with me a while back.  He said it was their intent to perfect the Constitution, and that got me to wondering just what kind of person believes they can perfect an imperfect system created by imperfect men.  It would seem that they believe they are perfect, or rather, the true constitutionalists.  But you can’t fix the constitution by destroying it. Yes, the constitution is imperfect, but it is the best system ever devised.

Now, I fully realize I will be attacked for writing this, and I know that because I have been attacked before.  They accuse me of not being scholarly, they accuse me of being a Mark Levin toady, (he’s my friend, but I write what I think,) they accuse me of not reading the right things, or understanding them correctly, they accuse me of not taking their liberty courses or spending time listening to them on the radio.

But I don’t have to do all that, and neither do you.  We all can read and interpret these articles and works, and we do not need someone telling us what to think.  We don’t need their super-secret handbill or document that they uncovered that they think proves their point beyond all doubt.  Many times the nullification advocates take you down a path, moving from one document to another, cherry-picking quotes and either taking them out of context, or assigning meaning to them that do not naturally appear.  A lot of times, you have to trust that they are the experts, and I have always had a problem with that.  So, as I said, read these things yourself, interpret them yourself, use the gifts God gave you.

But most of all apply logic.  If it is true that there is a right of the States to make null and void federal law through the Tenth Amendment, it means that the Tenth Amendment compels the power of States to dissolve the Union, and if you think the framers went through all the trouble of creating the nation with a ticking time bomb within it, I’m afraid you’ll have to reassess your thought process.


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  • OldmanRick

    My belief from study is that congress only has the constitutional right to write law. Any action by a president by means of executive order other than to effect change in the administrative branch is null and void at state level since it did not originate in congress. Correct me if I am wrong.

  • BearNJ

    Well done as usual Jen. You took the argument I've used as well " But you can’t fix the constitution by destroying it. Yes, the constitution is imperfect, but it is the best system ever devised." I've argued that our Article V battle is to restore the Constitution not to destroy it. Levin is right when he labels them neo-Confederates. The nullification crowd pulls selective quotes out of context like there Nostradamus quatrains.

    • Jen Kuznicki

      Glad to hear I’m not alone, Bear:)

  • JKuriako

    Jen? Neither you nor any of those who are fans of the Great One are toadies (I include myself in the wonderful group of people who are fans of Mark), secondly I seem to recall the whole nation-states thing being counterproductive and not just for the reasons you have cited.

    Ancient Greece was filled with them and each one fell to the Roman Empire like Dominos quite easily. They could have learned the lesson concerning the Macedonians and cavalry before but did not. The fact that these nullifiers would try to undo the constitution while overlooking the constant nullification/illegal amendment processes that the judges and others perform makes their argument very stupid and silly least to me anyways.

    • Jen Kuznicki

      Yep, love the Greece parallel you gave. When you really listen to what they have to say and measure it against knowledge of the founders intent, they sound nuts. They really believe that they are revolutionaries, but they thrive on chaos.

  • task

    I heard the Southern Avenger and his Sirius Radio Patriot sidekick Mike Church lament over Lincoln and the Civil War and support the nullification concept. In fact they convinced their buddy, Tom Woods, a fairly decent economist, to think the same and write a book titled: Nullification. The process might work but you would certainly lose the Constitution and the Republic as well. On the other hand the Founders would never have ratified the Constitution based upon the performance of today’s political leaders.

    Article Five would be a perfect solution because it takes only two-thirds of the States to implement; the hard part is to get three-fourths to ratify the Amendments. Interestingly even if one of Levin’s Amendments would pass it would have a resounding affect on whet we have goining on today. It would crack the fort and self propagate in many ways; The Federal structure would start to collapse.

    As President Andrew Jackson ignored a Supreme Court ruling. He eventually succumbed by creating a work-around. If I were a governor of one of these large States I would ignore some Federal Statutes. They do it already when it comes to Marrijuana; of course that is in a left leaning State where they have much public support. If the Feds can run a government in an unconstitutional fashion then that concept can go both ways. The Feds would not use force. They would use money. That was what the Republican House could have done but they feared for their careers. Once again you need public support. From a Federal perspective it would create significant confusion; the media will spin it in many ways but it will eventually be considered successful; other States would follow. Will this happen? If pushed hard enough I would not be surprised if it does.

  • Joseph Dooley

    I'd rather accept my neighbor as a tyrant than some bureaucrat in D.C. The states should look more to their state capitols more than Washington.

  • Lynette

    “But it is said that the laws of the Union are to be the SUPREME LAW of the land. But what inference can be drawn from this, or what would they amount to, if they were not to be supreme? It is evident they would amount to nothing. A LAW, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe. This results from every political association. If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies, and the individuals of whom they are composed. It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent on the good faith of the parties, and not a goverment, which is only another word for POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are NOT PURSUANT to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. “ – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 33