Tom Woods Destroys "Conservative" Groups opposition to Nullification.Submitted by THE BULL LION on Sat, 12/01/2012 - 16:29
Someone on my Facebook page (which I hope you will like) sent me a document drafted by a small group in Wisconsin (the Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty [WGL]) that strongly opposes nullification — the Jeffersonian idea that the states must, according to the very logic of the Union, have the power to prevent the enforcement of unconstitutional federal laws within their borders.
The group’s statement is wrong in nearly every sentence, so for pedagogical purposes I have decided to examine it closely.
Here are some of those sentences, along with my commentary and corrections.
First, let us start by being clear as to what nullification is…and how it is viewed by the legal community.
The “legal community” was trained in American law schools, which if anything are worse than American universities as a whole in terms of promoting a particular point of view (in this case, Hamiltonian/Marshallian nationalism) and pretending no others exist. A Tea Party organization should want to challenge the “legal community,” not meekly sit at its feet, cross-legged, awaiting instruction.
It [nullification] is a state’s refusal to comply with a specific federal law, which that state considers to be unconstitutional, to the extent of breaking the federal compact (our federal Constitution, although not referred to here in the sense of legal “compact theory”), in the form specifically of the Supremacy Clause of our Constitution which states that the Constitution trumps all other laws, especially that of the individual states.
So according to the WGL, a nullifying state is breaking the federal compact and ought to be singled out for condemnation, but the possibility that the passage of an unconstitutional law by the federal government might break it is so trivial as not to be worth mentioning. Very strange priorities for a “limited-government” outfit, don’t you think?
The WGL gives us a slight improvement on the Official Law School Version of the Supremacy Clause. “The Constitution” trumps state laws. (This is better than the usual Official Law School Version, which says, “Federal law trumps state law.”) That’s true as far as it goes, but it’s irrelevant to nullification. A nullifying state is claiming that a particular law violates the Constitution. It begs the question to reply by saying the Constitution trumps all. That is precisely why the state is nullifying the law in the first place — to vindicate the Constitution against an unconstitutional law.
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