by Diane Rufino
There is a growing movement in my state of North Carolina, as well as other states, to Nullify the federal healthcare bill. The Supreme Court’s disingenuous decision to uphold the Individual Mandate as a valid exercise of the Congress’ taxing power has evidenced an unwillingness on any branch of the federal government to honor the sovereignty of the individual. The decision clearly puts our country on the dark path to government tyranny.
But there is no need to label me a fanatic or a right-wing alarmist. I only write about what I observe and what I know to be true. And I’ve been observing that Americans and state representatives all over the country are taking notice of the powerful State sovereignty doctrine known as Nullification. Although this doctrine is based on our founding principles, the term itself was not articulated until 1799 when Thomas Jefferson wrote a series of resolutions to address the unconstitutionality of the Alien & Sedition Act. Those resolutions, known as the Kentucky Resolves of 1799, state as follows:
“If those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by the federal compact (ie, the US Constitution), an annihilation of the state governments, and the creation, upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence: That the principle and construction, contended by the state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despotism – since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the Constitution, would be the measure of their powers. That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a NULLIFICATION, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under color of that instrument, is the RIGHTFUL REMEDY: That this commonwealth does, under the most deliberate reconsideration, declare that the said Alien and Sedition laws are, in their opinion, palpable violations of the Constitution…..”
Jefferson believed it was up to the States, the parties who drafted and ratified the Constitution and thus created the federal government to stand up to the government when it exceeds constitutional bounds. The states, he wrote, have the unquestionable right to judge whether the government has usurped power from the states or the people (the Ninth and Tenth Amendments). He called Nullification the “Rightful Remedy” to keep the federal government constrained by the limited delegations of power granted by the states.
I know this a concept which is foreign to progressives and something that liberal universities prefer to keep hidden in historical record or teach as an outdated, racist doctrine, but the fact is that it is as vital and relevant as any of the other principles of government on which our system is based. It is an important check and balance and it is inherent in the system of Dual Sovereignty. The guarantees of the Declaration of Independence can only be protected if the government operates according to the Constitution’s limitations.
Perhaps the reason this concept has been receiving so much attention is because it was articulated by our most revered Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson, the author of our charter of freedom and James Madison, the father of our Constitution (see the Virginia Resolves of 1798 and The Virginia General Assembly Report of 1800). It is an American remedy. Perhaps the reason it is criticized is because it’s not found in the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” playbook or in the Communist Manifesto. It doesn’t further the concentration of government. Furthermore, Jefferson and Madison opposed slavery so it was not, as liberals allege, a racist doctrine.
And so, nullification groups have popped up all over the country. The topic is spreading like wildfire. Nullification groups are even organizing in North Carolina, a state which has spent years sucking up to the federal government. At the meeting the other night, one person asked whether certain provisions of the NC state constitution might present a legal barrier to members introducing nullification bills. Another asked whether it was a dangerous remedy and likely to escalate to secession. I’d like to spend the rest of this article addressing these concerns.
The provisions in the North Carolina state constitution that the gentleman was referring to are Article I, Section 4 (“Secession Prohibited”) and Article I, Section 5 (“Allegiance to the United States). I don’t believe either provision presents a barrier to Nullification.
Article I, Section 5 states: “Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.” This provision merely restates the theme of the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution (Article VI, Section 2). State laws must not challenge the federal government in those areas it is expressly permitted by the Constitution to regulate.
Our federal system of government and the Tenth Amendment tell us that there is a purposeful tension between two sovereigns. With respect to the powers delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, which are “few and defined” (James Madison, in Federalist No. 45), the government is sovereign and the states must yield their power. But as to all other powers and responsibilities, these are reserved to the states and thus they are sovereign. The federal government, therefore, must yield to the states. The tension has always been palpable and almost always, the federal courts have taken the federal government’s side. But just because the trend seems to show that the federal government is taking power it was not originally granted, or delegated, by the states, it does not mean that Article I, Section 5 of the NC constitution is a carte blanche allegiance provision. It is to be observed responsibly, in accordance with the Supremacy Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and the original intent of the US Constitution. States are entitled to err on the side of their sovereignty. After all, they contemplated, drafted, debated, and eventually ratified the Constitution with specific designs for the Union. The federal government was THEIR creation.
Dr. Frankenstein and Igor created the monster; the monster didn’t create them. The individual nations of the world joined created NATO and not the reverse.
Article I, Section 4 states: “This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.” This section is extremely offensive and is an insult to every North Carolinian who died in the Civil War believing in the sovereign right of self-determination and trying to preserve the notion that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence – “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Article I, Section 4 conflicts directly with the Declaration of Independence, as well as contradicts the very legal basis that underlies our government – the Compact Theory of the Union.
The Compact Theory was discussed even before the states ratified the Constitution. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote separately to propose that the Constitution be based on this principle. Under the Compact Theory of Federalism, the United States is made up of a voluntary union of States that agreed to a set of conditions on how they will be organized and governed. The Union was created by compact – or agreement (contract). They agreed to cede some of their authority in order to join the union, but that the states did not and could not, ultimately, surrender their sovereign rights. Under this theory, states can determine if the federal government has violated its agreements because they are the rightful parties who understand the terms and intent of the compact. The federal government was a CREATION of the compact and NOT a party to it. The compact theory states that our federal government was formed through an agreement by all of the states.
The Compact Theory is subject to the law of compact (or contract). And as with all contracts and agreements, the federal compact is limited by its language and by the intent when it was entered into. It is only legally enforceable under such conditions. In other words, the government is only legal for the specific purpose it was ratified for and under the precise terms (except for amendments properly adopted through the Article V amendment process).
Most states subscribe to this theory as the principle that underlies their bonds to the Union. Look at the articles of secession submitted by the southern states. For example, South Carolina explained:
“Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.
We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.” (the Supreme Court is not a neutral arbiter)
Also, just ask the state of Montana. In 2008, while it was waiting for the US Supreme Court to hand down its opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller (second amendment case), the Montana State Legislature passed a resolution – H.J. 26 – asserting its state sovereignty and announcing that if the Supreme Court failed uphold the 2nd Amendment as an individual right to have and bear arms, then the state of Montana would consider it a fatal breach of the Compact and therefore it would nullify and void its bonds with fellow states. In other words, it threatened secession if the Supreme Court took away gun rights.
[Heller was the first time in seventy years that the Supreme Court heard a case regarding the central meaning of the Second Amendment and its relation to gun control laws. The District of Columbia passed legislation barring the registration of handguns, requiring licenses for all pistols, and mandating that all legal firearms must be kept unloaded and disassembled or trigger locked. A group of private gun-owners brought suit claiming the laws violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The government claimed the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias, such as the National Guard, and is not an individual right. The federal district court in DC sided with the government and upheld the federal ban on private gun ownership. The Court of Appeals reversed. With four liberals on the Court who believed that the second amendment was only a collective right and Justice Anthony Kennedy as the justice who sits on the fence, the right to have and bear arms was precariously close to being destroyed, and the state of Montana was not willing to take it lightly].
In short, Article I, Section 4 condemns the state of North Carolina to be a federal cling-on rather than a sovereign state, comprised of sovereign individuals. We are not wards of the state, eternally and perpetually bound to their schemes and design of governance. The provision declares in the loudest of terms that the issue of state sovereignty was settled at Appomattox in 1865. I would be surprised to find many North Carolinians who believe that in their hearts. They are proud and patriotic.
There should be no concern that either provision of the North Carolina state constitution would bar any state representative from rightfully interposing the state between the helpless citizens and a power-hungry federal government.
The second question asked was whether nullification is risky and likely to escalate to secession. Ideally, the purpose of nullification is to address usurpations of power so that secession could be avoided. Of course, that requires that the federal government respect the state’s right to invoke nullification and enforce their nullification bills.
In 1796, in response to the Quasi War with France, Congress passed the Alien & Sedition Acts to quash any false, misleading, scandalous, hateful, contemptuous, or defamatory communication concerning the government, the President (John Adams), or Congress (or individual members thereof). Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that it was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment’s rights of free speech and press. The question became: What can be done to protect the people from an act of government that exceeds constitutional authority? (What can be done if the government violates the very Constitution which defines it?) Jefferson said there were three viable options: Judicial review, Nullification, and Secession. He didn’t trust the courts to interpret the Constitution faithfully and thought secession was too extreme. He concluded that the “rightful remedy” was nullification. If successful, there would be no need for the extreme measure of secession.
John Calhoun, the famous Senator from South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis of 1832, viewed nullification in the same way. Calhoun was a strong supporter of the doctrine and helped his state put forth an ordinance to nullify the federal tariffs (“Tariffs of Abomination”). The full title read: “An Ordinance to Nullify Certain Acts of Congress of the United States Purporting to be Laws Laying Duties and Imposts on the Importation of Foreign Commodities.” Although President Andrew Jackson believed South Carolina was heading towards secession, Calhoun assured that South Carolina was committed to the Union and did not want to secede. It just wanted the government to stop using its power to inflict such economic harm on the South.
In 1831, a year before the Nullification Crisis, Calhoun wrote: “Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or a consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting ultimately on the solid basis of the sovereignty of the States or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, and violence, and force must finally prevail.”
“So numerous and diversified are the interests of our country, that they could not be fairly represented in a single government.. A plan was adopted best suited to our situation and perfectly novel in its character. The powers of government were divided, not, as heretofore, in reference to classes, but geographically. One General Government was formed for the whole, to which were delegated all the powers supposed to be necessary to regulate the interests common to all the States, leaving others subject to the separate control of the States, being, from their local and peculiar character, such that they could not be subject to the will of a majority of the whole Union, without the certain hazard of injustice and oppression.
It was thus that the interests of the whole were subjected, as they ought to be, to the will of the whole, while the peculiar and local interests were left under the control of the States separately, to whose custody only they could be safely confided. This distribution of power, settled solemnly by a constitutional compact, to which all the States are parties, constitutes the peculiar character and excellence of our political system. It is truly and emphatically American, without example or parallel.
To realize its perfection, we must view the General Government and those of the States as a whole, each in its proper sphere independent; each perfectly adapted to its respective objects; the States acting separately, representing and protecting the local and peculiar interests; and acting jointly through one General Government, with the weight respectively assigned to each by the Constitution, representing and protecting the interest of the whole; and thus perfecting, by an admirable but simple arrangement, the great principle of representation and responsibility, without which no government can be free or just. To preserve this sacred distribution as originally settled, by coercing each to move in its prescribed orbit, is the great and difficult problem, on the solution of which the duration of our Constitution, of our Union, and, in all probability, our liberty depends. How is this to be effected?
The question is new, when applied to our peculiar political organization, where the separate and conflicting interests of society are represented by distinct but connected governments; but it is, in reality, an old question under a new form, long since perfectly solved. Whenever separate and dissimilar interests have been separately represented in any government; whenever the sovereign power has been divided in its exercise, the experience and wisdom of the ages have devised but one mode by which such political organization can be preserved,–the mode adopted in England, and by all governments, ancient and modern, blessed with constitutions deserving to be called free,–to give to each co-estate the right to judge of its powers, with a negative or veto on the acts of the others, in order to protect against encroachments the interests it particularly represents; a principle which all of our constitutions recognize in the distribution of power among their respective departments, as essential to maintain the independence of each; but which, to all who will duly reflect on the subject, must appear far more essential, for the same object, in that great and fundamental distribution of powers between the General and State Governments.
So essential is the principle, that, to withhold the right from either, where the sovereign power is divided, is, in fact, to annul the division itself, and to consolidate, in the one left in the exclusive possession of the right, all powers of government; for it is not possible to distinguish, practically, between a government having all power, and one having the right to take what powers in pleases. Nor does it in the least vary the principle, whether the distribution of power be between co-estates, as in England, or between distinctly organized but connected governments, as with us. The reason is the same in both cases, while the necessity is greater in our case, as the danger of conflict is greater where the interests of a society are divided geographically than in any other, as has already been shown.
The great and leading principle is, that the General Government emanated from the people of the several States, forming distinct political communities, and acting in their separate and sovereign capacity, and not from all of the people forming one aggregate political community; that the Constitution of the United States is, in fact, a compact, to which each State is a party, in the character already described; and that the several States, or parties, have a right to judge of its infractions; and in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of power not delegated, they have the right, in the last resort, to use the language of the Virginia Resolutions, ‘to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them.’ This right of interposition, thus solemnly asserted by the State of Virginia, be it called what it may, — State-right, veto, nullification, or by any other name, — I conceive to be the fundamental principle of our system, resting on facts historically as certain as our revolution itself, and deductions as simple and demonstrative as that of any political or moral truth whatever; and I firmly believe that on its recognition depend the stability and safety of our political institutions.
With these strong feelings of attachment, I have examined, with the utmost care, the bearing of the doctrine in question; and, so far from anarchical or revolutionary, I solemnly believe it to be the only solid foundation of our system, and of the Union itself; and that the opposite doctrine, which denies to the States the right of protecting their reserved powers, and which would vest in the General Government (it matters not through what department) the right of determining, exclusively and finally, the powers delegated to it, is incompatible with the sovereignty of the States, and of the Constitution itself, considered as the basis of a Federal Union. As strong as this language is, it is not stronger than that used by the illustrious Jefferson, who said, to give to the General Government the final and exclusive right to judge of its powers, is to make ‘its discretion and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers;’ and that, ‘in all cases of compact between parties having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of the infraction as of the mode and measure of redress.’ Language cannot be more explicit, nor can higher authority be adduced.”
He concluded by addressing the secession question:
“If the right to interpose did not exist, the alternative would be submission and oppression on one side, or resistance by force on the other. That our system should afford, in such extreme cases, an intermediate point between these dire alternatives, by which the Government may be brought to a pause, and thereby an interval obtained to compromise differences, or, if impracticable, be compelled to submit the question to a constitutional adjustment, through an appeal to the States themselves, is an evidence of its high wisdom: an element not, as is supposed by some, of weakness, but of strength; not of anarchy or revolution, but of peace and safety. Its general recognition would of itself, in a great measure, if not altogether, supersede the necessity of its exercise, by impressing on the movements of the Government that moderation and justice so essential to harmony and peace, in a country of such vast extent and diversity of interests as ours; and would, if controversy should come, turn the resentment of the aggrieved from the system to those who had abused its powers (a point all-important), and cause them to seek redress, not in revolution or overthrow, but in reformation. It is, in fact, properly understood, a substitute, — where the alternative would be force, — tending to prevent, and, if that fails, to correct peaceably the aberrations to which all systems are liable, and which, if permitted to accumulate without correction, must finally end in a general catastrophe.”
We see, then, that nullification is not intended as a threat of possible secession. It is a peaceful plea to the federal government to faithfully honor the Constitution. So, if the government grows hostile to any state that uses nullification to declare an act of the government unconstitutional and that hostility leads to secession, then the fault of secession lies not with the state but with the government. The power to restore the design of the federal compact lies with the government. The power to prevent secession lies in the conduct of Washington DC.
No one wants the Union to dissolve. No one wants a state to be so frustrated and so apathetic and so rebellious with the federal government that its only effective solution is to dissolve its bonds with fellow states so that it is relieved of allegiance to an oppressive or controlling federal government. But if Americans are devoted to keeping the American ideal alive – that government serves the people and not the other way around – than secession must always be recognized as not only a fundamental sovereign right but also a viable option. It was certainly the option our founding patriots took when they adopted and signed the Declaration of Independence. That document, most clearly and straightforwardly, was a secessionist document. It announced “to a candid world” that the colonies endured a history of repeated injuries and usurpations at the hands of King George and were therefore dissolving their bonds with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connections between them and the State of Great Britain, are and ought to be totally dissolved..”
Lincoln got it wrong. He engaged the South in a costly war to save the Union because he believed it was meant to be a perpetual Union. America was never promised to be a perpetual Union. It was promised to be the land of perpetual freedom. If the independent sovereign colonies had the right to be free and to dissolve their political bonds with a tyrannical government in 1776, why do they have any less of a right under the same circumstances?
Some have laughed at this sentiment. Many believe that the government would never allow any state to withdraw from the Union. Some look at the legal issues and wonder how a state can legally secede if no federal court will recognize the right of secession. [The only Supreme Court decision which addressed secession was Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869), which was written by Justice Salmon Chase. Chase was appointed by Abraham Lincoln as a cabinet member and was a leading Union figure during the war against the South and so it was no surprise his decision was a regurgitation of Lincoln’s premise for war. He wrote: “The act which consummated Texas’ admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of all the States.”]
Since the government enacted martial law in the South (thus treating the southern states as a conquered land) put strict conditions on the Confederate states for “re-admission to the Union,” it is clear the government didn’t even believe its own story.
The authority for secession comes from man’s humanity and vests in every sovereign. The right of a people to abolish their government is a fundamental right, just as the rights to Life, Liberty, and Property are. As Jefferson said: “God who gave us life gave us liberty.” Liberty is indivisible from life itself. This right of a people to abolish government is grounded in the inherent right of self-protection (individuals can protect their lives and property). When people are organized into communities and reside in a particular state, that state itself possesses the sovereign powers that the people themselves would have had if they had not delegated it for collective and mutual benefit. States do not need permission from the federal government to dissolve the political bonds binding them to the Union. They need no permission from fellow states (although they might wish some support). They certainly don’t need permission from any of the federal courts.
The Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The US Constitution begins with the words “We the People.” This is immensely significant because it evidences the understanding that the power of the government derives from the people. The power derives from the people because in this country we acknowledge that individuals are the true sovereigns. This concept mirrors the themes highlighted in Jefferson’s Declaration. The Declaration is the WHY and the Constitution is the HOW.
This emphasis on “We the People” is quite different from what we’ve seen in history in other countries. Governments have been fashioned by Kings, established by tyrants, or forced on a conquering population. The rights of the people were always an after-though – a second thought. The interests of the King or the tyrant or the conqueror always came first. Governments were always top down until the US Constitution was written. In the United States, we have a bottom-up structure. Power bubbles up from the people. It transfers to a government which in turn serves them. It was not supposed to serve itself. The Constitution is a document that protects the individual from the conduct of government. It is a document used to enforce law on government – not on people. It is designed to limit government and not to limit citizens.
Our Founding Fathers came up with a special, unique formula, which it memorialized in the Constitution (and in the Federalist Papers) – that “limited government” equals “maximum individual liberty.”
Governments established for the benefit of the individual are created by compact – an inherent agreement by the people to obey laws in return for the protection of their rights and the service of their liberty interests. After all, what is an individual’s liberty interest in life and property worth if he can’t leave his home in order to work and travel because he must protect his family and property from evil-intentioned individuals? Many governments are evidenced by a constitution, although it isn’t necessary. Written instruments are preferred because they set out in particular detail the relationship between the People and government. Governments are supposed to be limited. While some laws are necessary to promote and even enlarge individual liberty, too many laws burden liberty and oppress people. The balance shifts. Instead of protecting and serving the People, it becomes their master. And then that is when we get to the point where the People review the situation and decide whether it is appropriate to form a different compact, or as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated: “to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
It only makes sense that a nation founded on the sovereignty of the individual would allow individuals to abolish their government.
I certainly don’t advocate secession. We lost almost 620,000 young men when the South seceded from the Union and Lincoln fought to deny them that opportunity. But as I wrote earlier, it has to be an option as a matter of last resort otherwise we slide down the path to tyranny without a way to salvage the liberty that our revolutionary patriots fought for and which our Founders secured for us.
It is said that nations typically follow a predictable path of progression: From bondage to spiritual faith; then from spiritual faith to great courage; then from courage to liberty; then from liberty to abundance; then from abundance to complacency; then from complacency to apathy; then from apathy to dependence; and finally, from dependence back into bondage. We are at the “dependency” stage. We think the federal government – all branches – are the answer. We see it every time we hear people make such outrageous claims as “home ownership” is a right and “healthcare is a right” and “entitlements are a right.” Every time a people believes that government should give them something and therefore relieve them of the “opportunity” to provide such things for themselves, then they, in effect, hand those ‘opportunities’ back to the government. Each “opportunity” is indeed an exercise of Liberty. It is an opportunity to use the inherent rights and abilities granted to us by our Creator to achieve. We are squandering our opportunities by trusting government to take care of us.
We assume that the government – all branches – are the interpreters and final arbiters of what the Constitution means, what the government’s powers are, what government should do, and what laws the people MUST obey. (A perfect example is the desire of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan to have a second amendment case reach the Supreme Court again after another liberal justice has been appointed to the Supreme Court so they can “get it right this time.” District of Columbia v. Heller was a narrow 5-4 decision. These liberal justices believe strongly in government gun control – despite the overwhelming authority to the contrary – and Ginsberg has already gone public urging another case to come before the high court “after Obama wins a second term.”)
If our early patriots understood the inherent violation of liberty rights in a relatively small tax on tea, is it no wonder that today’s patriots are urging the revival of nullification over the blatant violation of liberty rights in the coercive federal healthcare bill? If our early patriots rebelled over the fact that they forcibly taxed to serve the purposes of others (the English), it is no wonder today’s patriots are in an uproar over the fact that a certain segment of our population is being forcibly taxed to serve the purposes of others?
It is no wonder that critical mass has been reached and nullification is being talked about as the only option remaining to get government back in line. Hope for other options ended with the Supreme Court’s decision of the healthcare bill. There would be no commonsense voice from the Supreme Court. There will be no repeal of the bill in this session or even the next. If Obama is re-elected, the republic is effectively dead. Nullification is the only answer. It provides the path from dependency back to liberty. It puts power back in the hands of the state and to the people. It is the rightful remedy for a people who rightfully deserve to enjoy freedom without oppressive and coercive policies of government.
Thomas Jefferson lives again in the hearts and minds of those who desperately want to save the republic. And it’s great to have him back.
“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. Land where my fathers died; land of the pilgrims’ pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
Diane Rufino, “Nullification: A Concept Whose Time Has Come” August 2011. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.wordpress.com
Diane Rufino, “Secession: Does a State Have the Right to Secede From the Union?” August 2011. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.wordpress.com
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Referenced at: http://constitution.org/ussc/005-137a.htm
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 579 (2008).
John C. Calhoun, “Fort Hill Address: On the Relations of the States and the Federal Government,” in the book: Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun, ed. Ross M. Lenace (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992). Referenced at The Online Library of Liberty.: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=683&chapter=107120&layout=html&Itemid=27
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Thanks so very much for your comment.
Dissolving the Union should be the very last resort, and as you mentioned, if it can be done without bloodshed, that would be the goal. We are promised that option in the Declaration, as you know, which itself is a secessionist document. Unfortunately, Lincoln took a different reading of the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson, our greatest Founding Father, supported secession… obviously. He wrote the Declaration. His founding principles and philosophy of government came from John Locke who said that government is created by sovereign individuals who form together in communities and need common services and an agreed-upon set of guidelines to define their society. Only in that way can they truly enjoy their rights to Life, Liberty, Property. Sovereign individuals with these inherent rights also have the inherent right to protect and defend them. Government is nothing more than the delegation of some of the rights of self-protection from the People, or as Thomas Jefferson put it: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...”
I imagine you believe, as I do, that if we compared the reasons we dissolved our bonds with England in 1776 with the history of abuses and usurpations that our government has committed in the last 120 – 150 years, we might find that we also have a strong case now in 2012. But I think that Nullification can prevent us from that path. Well, I think it’s certainly worth a try to save what we can before we declare the experiment of 1787 a failure.
And I think the reason Nullification is being embraced by states and localities all over the country is because of the very sentiment that you express. We are in a severe constitutional crisis. The delicate balance between the People and government is off and is favoring a strong centralized, nationalized government. And our very liberty is in danger. The Constitution was designed to clearly set boundaries on government so that the States and its people could thrive. With its limited grants of power and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the government that would always have the most jurisdiction over the individual would be the one that was closest to him where it could mostly represent him, his property, and his interests. For many years, we’ve seemed to tolerate a general intent by members and departments of government to expand it beyond constitutional bounds. They have violated their oaths, which they taken to create a pact with the American people and they have neglected to interpret the Constitution in the spirit it was drafted and adopted by the States (which is the only true meaning).
The President’s Oath reads: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And the oath taken by members of Congress and the Supreme Court reads: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” At the start of each new Congress, in January of every odd-numbered year, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate performs a solemn and festive constitutional rite that is as old as the Republic. While the oath-taking dates back to the First Congress in 1789, the current oath is a product of the 1860’s, drafted by Civil War-era members of Congress intent on weeding out traitors.
In 2009, Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) was asked where the Congress found the power under the Constitution to enact the healthcare bill. She replied: “Are you serious? Are YOU serious?” Another congressman, Phil Hare (D-Il) was asked the same question by a reporter. He answered: “I don’t know. I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest…. It doesn’t matter to me.”
And today we suffer the consequences of the decisions these lawmakers make in office because of their arrogance, their intentional ignorance of the Constitution and their blatant violation of their oath of office. In 2008, the District of Columbia, together with its 4 out of 9 progressive members of the Supreme Court, attempted to take away the individual’s right to own and bear arms (Heller v. District of Columbia). The government’s own attorneys argued that the second amendment only guaranteed a “collective” right to bear arms (only when men organized into a militia) and not an individual right. Our own government tried to take our gun rights away. With this most fundamental right, all the others are meaningless. Perhaps the most progressive member of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has publicly stated that she hopes a similar case will come to the high Court, “after Obama wins his second term, and has a chance to appoint another justice or two,” so that the “Court can get it right this time.” We are already hearing the government plant the seeds. They are saying that although Heller interpreted the Second Amendment as an individual right, the decision left open the matter of the “scope” of that right. So the next attack will be on what kind of weapons we can own, how many is enough, how much ammunition we can keep, etc.
The Patriot Act gives the government extraordinary powers over our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has a provision which allows the President to determine when a US citizen should be considered an ‘enemy of the state’ and therefore subject to indefinite detention, torture, and even death. This provision is in addition to the provision that give the president the authority to go after the perpetrators of 9/11 and other terrorists. The NDAA is a massive assault on almost all of the fundamental rights contained our Bill of Rights. And Obamacare permits the government to confiscate (plunder) money from those it determines can afford to pay in order to fund the entire program, including to those who can’t afford healthcare themselves. It also establishes a 15-member unelected board (the Independent Patient Advisory Board; IPAB, or “death panel”) that will ration care to the elderly, under the goal of cutting costs and preventing increases in premiums. Put another way, the government is attacking our Life with Obamacare (and its rationed care mandate, including the IPAB), attacking our Liberty with the NDAA, and attacking our Property with the 16th Amendment (progressive income tax) and Agenda 21. And the States have allowed all this to happen. But they are slowly waking up to their sovereign rights and duties under the Tenth Amendment and under the agreement they made with the other states when they signed the Constitution to create a limited government.
Both conservatives and liberals have been guilty of these abuses. Both have been guilty of shredding the Constitution and creating the leviathan government we have now.
Government is not happy with a full recognition of the Bill of Rights. Little by little, it is clamping down. We are not the free people we were many years ago. Government is slowly using its full resources to turn its watchful eyes inward on us and to regulate us as the uneducated, unskilled, unproductive, dependent people we have allowed ourselves to become.
History suggests that when Americans debate nullification, the most elemental issues of political philosophy and human freedom are at stake. (Of course, we know that Alabama tried to use nullification to disavow the policy of integration and that was wrong). But Thomas Jefferson and James Madison acknowledged that Nullification was the “rightful remedy” to limit the federal government when it attempts to abuse its powers. And I’m inclined to believe these great men. I’m living a life of freedom because of them.
When it comes to nullification, there is great support from liberals. In my state of North Carolina, I am almost willing to say that there is more support from democrats than from republicans. Liberals have embraced it and libertarians have embraced it. And then there are the folks like me – strict constitutionalists – who think it’s the best chance we have of restoring the government to the system it was intended to be and the only one capable of restraining government so that the individual can truly enjoy the liberty and freedom he was endowed with. The Constitution and Liberty aren’t partisan issues. The survival of our republic isn’t a partisan issue.
I hope I didn’t come across as saying that only strict conservatives support Nullification. It is my position that liberal and progressive views of what the size and scope of government should be is what got us into the mess we are in.
What state do you live in? I hope you will contact your state’s Tenth Amendment Center and offer to work with them. If you live in North Carolina, please contact me – email@example.com. (If you don’t live in NC, you can also contact me).
Actually we liberals are becoming more and more willing to dissolve the union. We will be fine. If we can do this without bloodshed, so much the better. I’m unclear however on why conservatives require all the negative name calling and ‘the sky is falling’ rhetoric. Why can’t we just admit that 300 million people can not form or maintain political union in an effective way. We don’t hate you, why do you hate us?