01/27/13

Nullification Deniers! This Is What James Madison Really Said

By: Publius Huldah

This is The Age of Ignorance. Our “intellectuals” can’t think. Our “scholars” parrot each other. The self-educated fixate on idiotic theories. Our People despise Truth and disseminate lies.

Nullification deniers such as Matthew Spalding of Heritage Foundation, Jarrett Stepman of Human Events, law professor Randy Barnett, David Barton of Wallbuilders, and history professor Allen C. Guelzo, say that nullification by States of unconstitutional acts of the federal government is unlawful and impossible. They make the demonstrably false assertions that:

• States don’t have the right to nullify unconstitutional acts of the federal government because our Constitution doesn’t say they can do it;
• Nullification is literally impossible;
• The supreme Court is the final authority on what is constitutional and what is not; and The States and The People must submit to whatever the supreme Court says; and
• James Madison, Father of Our Constitution, opposed nullification.

Their assertions contradict our Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, our federal Constitution, and what James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton really said.

What are the Two Conditions Precedent for Nullification?

The deniers seem unaware of the two conditions our Framers saw must be present before nullification is proper and possible. These conditions are important – you will see why!:

• The act of the federal government must be unconstitutional – usually a usurpation of a power not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution; and
• The act must be something The States or The People can “nullify” – i.e., refuse to obey: the act must order them to do something or not do something.

What is “Interposition” and What is “Nullification”?

A State “interposes” when it stands between the federal government and The Citizens of the State in order to protect them from the federal government. Interposition takes various forms, depending on the circumstances. Hamilton refers to interposition in Federalist No. 33 (5th para):

“If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard [the Constitution] they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” [emphasis mine]

“Nullification” is one form of interposition. Now! Here are three highly relevant illustrations:

When the act of the federal government is unconstitutional and orders The States or The People to do – or not do – something, nullification is the proper form of interposition.

When the act of the federal government is unconstitutional, but doesn’t order The States or The People to do – or not do – something (the alien & sedition acts), nullification is not possible. The States may interpose by objecting, as in The Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.

When the act of the federal government is constitutional, but unjust (the Tariff Act of 1828), the States may not nullify it; but may interpose by objecting and trying to get the Tariff Act changed.

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