Monday, February 15, 2010

State Nullification

As many as thirty-six states, in response to the prospects of a federally mandated universal health care system, have begun the process of exercising their constitutional right to nullification.

Unless you are one of those few Americans who have studied the Constitution and its history, nullification is, perhaps, not one of those concepts upon which you would have a firm grasp. However, nullification is, perhaps, the single most important concept in saving our freedoms from a federal government run amok with its own sense of self empowerment.

First, in order to understand state nullification, we need to review the basic elements surrounding the establishment OF the Constitution. This is a simple review, but we all know the original thirteen states came together to draft a new constitution upon which to establish a more coherent and empowered confederation of states and to develop of useful, yet restricted, federal (NOT NATIONAL) government.

Upon completion of the Constitution, irrelevant of the number of representatives present at the convention from each state, each state was given one, and only one, vote. When they had the necessary votes, each contingent of state representatives returned to their home states and brought the Constitution up for ratification vote there.

This procedure, itself, provides a vital understanding of the intent of the representatives of the Constitutional Convention. It was their desire and intention that the powers afforded to them, the hoped for national government and any future representative should be from the states and should always return to the states.

In writing the Constitution, Article One Section Eight innumerates the powers delegated BY the states TO the new federal government. The Tenth Amendment, which Jefferson, himself, thought to be the cornerstone of the entire Constitution, identifies that any power not specifically delegated to the federal government, nor restricted of the states BY that very Constitution, should be RETAINED BY THE STATES and the people.

For as long as this country has been in existence certain peoples have found the Constitution an inhibitor to their own desires for power and control. Even Jefferson and Madison, the two primary authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, were confronted with the potentials of a federal government bent upon the idea of self-empowerment at the expense of the States and the people.

In the 1790s Jefferson and Madison brought the doctrine of states rights to the next level. They began to see an empowered federal government using its own powers to establish laws clearly in violation of the Constitution. With the power to pass such laws, enforce them through the Executive Branch and "rule" them as constitutional by a court system establish and empowered BY the federal government, Jefferson and Madison saw the undesirable end of states rights and ultimately individual freedoms.

If the federal government had the EXCLUSIVE right to interpret the Constitution and judge the extent of its own power vis-a-vis those of the states, warned Madison and Jefferson, it would continue to growth irregardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other limits of government by simply handing down decisions in its own favor.

State Legislatures in Kentucky and Virginia established resolutions invoking state powers to interpose between the federal government and the people. Kentucky's resolution used the word nullification in identifying its own right and power to nullify any law passed by the federal government which it determined to be in violation of the Constitution.

Those who would rather see the federal government's powers expanded limitlessly began to invoke the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution in attempts to enforce its powers to pass whatever law it so desired. They would argue that the laws of the federal government supersede state rights.

Even today, those who advocate the unlimited powers of the federal government suggest that advocates of state nullification stand in conflict with the Constitution itself. However, that cannot be further from the truth. The fact is that state nullification is the only means to protect the Constitution from those who would usurp it at the expense of states rights and individual liberty. The very fact that our founders injected the states with such significant power to nullify unconstitutional laws provides and invaluable level of checks and balances.

The present day return to this concept of state nullification is essentially our Alamo. This is our last chance to sever the unconstitutional usurpation of power by those in Washington, D.C. Congress does have limited powers. Within those powers they are absolute. They are engaged with the responsibilities centered upon those limited powers. But outside of those powers they have NO power, except that which they have usurped through intimidation, self-empowerment, ignorance and apathy on the part of we the people.

But that time is over. Our ignorance is evaporating day by day and our passion to restore our country to its roots is indisputable, though mocked or often ignored by those who continue to pursue a vision of an all-powerful federal government. But we will be ignored no longer.

I give credit to Thomas Woods, author of 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, for inspiring this blog entry.

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