By Diane Rufino, June 17, 2021

On June 15, I posted a question and some of my personal thoughts on the matter. I noted that our nation’s culture and politics has perhaps reached a tipping point where two competing ideologies cannot get along and the rift is actively destroying the country we all love. I asked if it is time to think of some serious remedies, including the necessity of the states’ invoking the doctrine of Nullification (which Thomas Jefferson himself termed “the “rightful remedy” to curb federal abuse), the possibility of splitting the states up, having one entire part of the country secede, holding an Article V Convention, etc etc.  My point for the post was to get people thinking that if we don’t act soon, and act with wisdom, prudence, and with the care and concern that our Founding Fathers did over 200 years ago, we might very well face the loss of our great constitutional republic.

Two days later, I received a response to that (short) post by a man named Christopher Shelley (  He wrote: “Nullification is not a Constitutional option. We had this argument — it’s called the Civil War. It was a bad idea when suggested by Jefferson; continued to be bad (in addition to unconstitutional) when advocated by John C. Calhoun, and remains a bad idea. I understand you are unhappy, but the only Constitutional remedy for your unhappiness are further elections.”

First of all, Mr. Shelley believes that elections are the only way we can address problems in our country. He assumes, for some reason, that we citizens have any modicum of confidence in their results. Well, we don’t. that option – that “ONLY option,” as he puts it, is no option at all. As we have learned from the 1960 election, an outcome can be predetermined. As we have learned most shockingly in 2020, election apparatus can be rigged, software can be hacked, votes tampered with, and again, the outcome can be pre-determined. That’s hardly a testament to a “democratic” process. 

Second of all, he believes that the issue of Nullification – an extra-constitutional principle, a powerful tool in the arsenal of States’ powers – was “settled” (ie, de-legitimized) by Lincoln’s Civil War.  Let’s be clear…. Abraham Lincoln was the greatest tyrant this country ever had and our country and our government has never been the same since. He told an oath of office, per Article II, Section 1, clause 8:  Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:– I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.”  He took a sacred vow to uphold the Constitution, not to distort it or destroy it.  For that, he should have been brought up on impeachment charges and removed from office. Alternatively, he should have been tried as a traitor – a traitor to the Constitution.

One man alone cannot undo the foundations of a country, particularly when it is for purely financial reasons (not genuine concern to the integrity of the Union) and when it could be used to justify him invading the southern states and subjugating them back into the Union. (As I have always said: “Lincoln using force against the South to save the Union is like a man beating his wife to save the marriage.”)  Lincoln had no right to advocate that the Constitution created a “perpetual Union” (thus never allowing a state to secede) when such words were NOT once mentioned in the document. (They were, however, mentioned in the Articles of Confederation, and we all know what happened with that flimsy union…..  All the states seceded from that Union and eventually formed a new Union based on the US Constitution).

As I mentioned above, Lincoln was a tyrant, and as history would have it, he was assassinated for being such a usurper. There was no reason that once Lincoln was out of the picture, the government could have condemned his actions and reversed his policies – either offering the South the opportunity to re-think their decision to secede and form a new country or to officially recognize their status as the Confederate States of America.  

Third, the Civil War did nothing to settle the issue of Nullification. You probably meant to say that the war settled the issue of secession, which it temporarily did but only through the use of force.  But again, an act of one tyrant does not destroy fundamental principles upon which a country was founded.  Our country is too important to permit its founding values to be ignored or perverted. (Or discarded because it doesn’t suit the government’s purposes).

So the short answer to Mr. Shelley is: (1) Nullification is, and always will be, the “rightful remedy” to curb federal abuse, and (2) Taking our chances at the ballot box every 2 – 4 years, when elections are not honest, trustworthy, or transparent, is NOT the “ONLY constitutional option. People should spend more time reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. More serious options need to be entertained. And by people a whole lot more open-minded than Mr. Shelley and more committed to the faithful adherence to the US Constitution and to helping to preserve our republic.

I welcome comments like Mr. Shelley’s. I welcome the opportunity to explain why Nullification is a viable option. I welcome the opportunity to explain why Nullification is the PERFECT option… indeed, as Jefferson wrote, “the rightful remedy.”

Just like Gene Kizer Jr. (author of the book “Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States”) and Leonard M. Scruggs (author of the book “The Un-Civil War (Shattering the Historical Myths)” welcome the opportunity to explain why Secession is a legitimate option when faced with federal tyranny, and just as Albert Taylor Bledsoe (author of the 1866 book “Is Davis a Traitor? Or Was Secession a Constitutional Right Previous to the War of 1861?”) eagerly welcomed the opportunity to defend Jefferson Davis and the right of the southern states to secede, I welcome the opportunity to discuss Nullification.

First, let’s discuss what “Nullification” is.  To be clear, it was not the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, as many contend. Jefferson was just the person who articulated the doctrine best. [See later, The Kentucky Resolves of 1798 and then The Kentucky Resolves of 1799].  Nullification is actually part of the law of compacts; it is a natural remedy belonging to a sovereign state. Thomas Woods explains: “Nullification is the Jeffersonian idea that the states of the American Union must judge the constitutionality of the acts of their agent, the federal government, since no impartial arbiter between them exists,” and if the state or states determine that such act, policy, executive action, or federal judicial ruling is not consistent with powers delegated to the federal government, then that state or states reserve the right to NULLIFY such act, policy, executive action, or ruling. Because the particular power is not delegated to the government, such action is deemed unconstitutional, it is without authority, it is, from its inception, null and void and therefore unenforceable.

There is, obviously, no provision in the Constitution that explicitly authorizes nullification. That was not Jefferson’s point. He, and later John C. Calhoun, suggested that it was in the nature of compacts that no one side could have the exclusive right of interpreting its terms. This was especially true in the case of the federal compact (ie, the US Constitution), since Jefferson and Calhoun contended that the federal government was not a party to it, having itself been brought into being by the joint action of the states in creating a compact among themselves. Since the federal government was merely the agent of the states, it could hardly presume to tell the states, with no room for disagreement or appeal, what their own Constitution meant.

A serious question is this: Will the federal government police itself?  Will it call itself out and ask the states not to enforce their laws and policies?  Never. It must be the co-equal sovereigns, the individual States, who must take on that responsibility.

Thomas Woods calls Nullification “the Jeffersonian Brake on Government.”

How are they tasked with this responsibility?  Our government system is designed and described as one of “Dual Sovereignty.”  We have 2 sets of sovereigns – a federal government and the group of individual States – each having the rights of a sovereign as divided by the US Constitution. In fact, it could be argued that the States are the more powerful sovereigns as they are responsible for a greater number of issues – internal issues (such as voting, education, criminal matters, property matters, certification, etc etc)  Each is sovereign over its specified objects. As for the federal government, it is sovereign only as to the express objects delegated to it. And as for the States, they are sovereign as to everything else (except those objects prohibited to it under Article I, Section 9). The Tenth Amendment is a restatement of the concept of federalism. [“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”]  

Dual Sovereignty is a unique feature of our American government and is the ideal system to keep each sovereign in check. Each sovereign is naturally expected to be a jealous guardian over its sphere of power. And if and when the other dares to invade into the other’s sphere, that other sovereign has every natural (sovereign) right to push back and reclaim that sphere of power. This is federalism. This is how it is supposed to work. It is the greatest, the most effective of checks and balances against a central government that always pushes the limits, uses the courts to expand its power

James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 41, “For what purpose could the enumeration of particulars be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?” In 1792, he said: If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.”

The issue of which powers were delegated to the federal government exploded into rigorous and contentious debates at the state ratifying conventions (in which each state individually elected delegates given the task of deciding whether or not to adopt the Constitution drafted in Philadelphia in 1787). Time and time again, the Constitution was characterized by its supporters as granting only those powers that the states “expressly delegated” to it. That means the states themselves entered the Union with the express assurance that this was how the Constitution would be understood.

At the New York Convention, even Alexander Hamilton, one of the strongest advocates of a powerful central government and among the least committed to the cause of states’ rights, declared that, in all federations, the proposed American one not excepted, “whatever is not expressly given to the Federal Head is reserved to the members.” The people, moreover, had “already delegated their sovereignty and their powers to their several state governments, and these cannot be recalled and given to another, without an express act.”  When New York ratified the Constitution, it accompanied its ratification with a brief rendition of the nature of the Union it understood itself to be joining.: “Every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the United States of America, or the departments of the government thereof, remains to the people of the several States, or to their respective State governments.”

The people of half a dozen states were specifically assured that the proposed federal government would indeed possess only those powers expressly delegated to it. For example, at the Pennsylvania Convention, James Wilson said that “everything not expressly mentioned will be presumed to be purposely omitted,”  At the North Carolina Convention, Governor Samuel Johnston explained that “Congress cannot assume any other powers than those expressly given them, without a palpable violation of the Constitution,” adding that the “powers of Congress are all circumscribed, defined, and clearly laid down. So far they may go, but no farther.”  Charles Pinckney told the convention in South Carolina that the federal government could not execute or assume any powers except those that “were expressly delegated.”  James Madison emphasized the same point repeatedly both in his essays and at his state’s ratifying convention. In Federalist No. 40, he noted that “the general powers are limited, and that the States, in all unenumerated cases, are left in enjoyment of their sovereign and independent jurisdiction.”  In Federalist No. 45, he observed: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”  

At the Virginia Convention, Madison noted that the federal government would have “defined and limited objects beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”  Let us be reminded that it was James Madison, for all intents and purposes, who WROTE the US Constitution. He of all people should know what the words, phrases, and provisions mean. And then on top of that, he wrote most of the essays in the Federalist Papers, specifically, and in great detail, to explain the document to all the states who were ready to debate it and take up the decision for its adoption. Many of the states, in fact, did come to rely on those essays, and in compact law (ie, contract law), any definitions, extraneous documentation (such as the Federalist Papers), explanations, provisos, comments, attending clauses, etc that touch on and influence their understanding of the document become PART OF THE COMPACT. Furthermore, they would apply to all member states equally.

In 1789, the Salem Mercury of Massachusetts published Roger Sherman’s “Observations on the New Federal Constitution, and the Alterations That Have Been Proposed as Amendments.”  Sherman was a Connecticut lawyer who signed the Constitution and who went on to become a US congressman and then senator. Sherman concurred with Madison: “The powers vested in the federal government are particularly defined so that each state still retains its sovereignty in what concerns its own internal government, and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign State, not expressly delegated to the government of the United States.”

Samuel Chase, as partisan a Federalist as ever lived, declared in the case Calder v. Bull (1798) that “the several State legislatures retain all powers of legislation, delegated to them by the State constitutions; which are not expressly taken away by the Constitution of the United States.”

And then we have the writings of our Founding Fathers, Supreme Court justices, and other important figures, on what it means to be “constitutional”:

“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.”   —  Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v.Madison, 1803

“Every law consistent with the Constitution will have been made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and void.”   — Thomas Jefferson, Elliot, p. 4:187-88

“…the laws of Congress are restricted to a certain sphere, and when they depart from this sphere, they are no longer supreme or binding. In the same manner the states have certain independent power, in which their laws are supreme.”   —  Alexander Hamilton, Elliot, 2:362

“This Constitution, as to the powers therein granted, is constantly to be the supreme law of the land.… It is not the supreme law in the exercise of a power not granted.”   —  William Davie, Pennsylvania, p. 277

“There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.”   —  Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers No. 78

“Clearly, a federal law which is contrary to the Constitution is no law at all; it is null, void, invalid. And a Supreme Court decision, which is not a ‘law,’ has no ‘supremacy’—even if it is faithfully interpreting the Constitution. So it is the height of absurdity to claim that a Supreme Court decision that manifestly violates the Constitution is the ‘supreme law of the land.’”   —  William Jasper

As it turns out, our earliest administrations were issuing unconstitutional laws. President George Washington ignored Thomas Jefferson on the matter of a national bank (not a power delegated to the government in the Constitution) and instead, sided with his Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to request a bill to create a National Bank.  Following so, the House of Representatives passed a bill establishing the first Bank of the United States, the Senate concurred, and on February 25, 1791, President Washington signed it into law. The bill was unconstitutional.  In the next administration, with President John Adams in the White House, the United States was involved in a quasi-war with France. Hostilities were brewing and all-out war was a possibility. Adams oversaw the passage, on June 18, 1798, of four pieces of controversial legislation known together as the Alien and Sedition Acts. The obvious unconstitutionality of these acts, most especially the Sedition Act, undermined and marred the Adams’ administration and in fact, helped Thomas Jefferson to win the presidency four years later in 1800.

Our great Founders, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison felt the time was right to address what should and could be done when the federal government assumes powers not delegated to it and passes unconstitutional laws. In 1798, they drafted a series of resolutions for the several state legislatures to “nullify” those unconstitutional federal laws. The resolutions are famously known as The Virginia Resolves of 1798 (Madison), The Kentucky Resolves of 1798 (Jefferson), and The Kentucky Resolves of 1799 (Jefferson).

In his Virginia Resolves of 1798, James Madison wrote:

RESOLVED, That the General Assembly of Virginia, doth unequivocably express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.

That this assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the Union of the States, to maintain which it pledges all its powers; and that for this end, it is their duty to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the only basis of that Union, because a faithful observance of them, can alone secure it’s existence and the public happiness.

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote, in his Kentucky Resolves of 1798, of the specific remedy of Nullification:

1. RESOLVED, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.

2. Resolved, ……..

3. Resolved, That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people;” and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people: that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same, as this State, by a law passed on the general demand of its citizens, had already protected them from all human restraint or interference. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press:” thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals. That, therefore, the act of Congress of the United States, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, titled “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States,” which does abridge the freedom of the press, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are: that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from their power over citizens. And it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” the act of the Congress of the United States, passed on the — day of July, 1798, titled “An Act Concerning Aliens,” which assumes powers over alien friends, not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

5. Resolved, ………

6. Resolved, That the imprisonment of a person under the protection of the laws of this commonwealth, on his failure to obey the simple _order_ of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by said act titled “An Act Concerning Aliens,” is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment to which has provided that “no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law;” and that another having provided that “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense,” the same act, undertaking to authorize the President to remove a person out of the United States, who is under the protection of the law, on his own suspicion, without accusation, without jury, without public trial, without confrontation of the witnesses against him, without hearing witnesses in his favor, without defense, without counsel, is contrary to the provision also of the Constitution, is therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force…

7. Resolved, ……..

8th. Resolved, That a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed, who shall have in charge to communicate the preceding resolutions to the legislatures of the several States; to assure them that this commonwealth continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their late federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States; and that therefore this commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a NULLIFICATION of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis,) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: ………   In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. That this commonwealth does therefore call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on the acts concerning aliens, and for the punishment of certain crimes herein before specified, plainly declaring whether these acts are or are not authorized by the federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this commonwealth in considering the said acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States, not merely as the cases made federal, (casus foederis,) but in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.

Jefferson took one step further and stream-lined the Kentucky Resolves above, to give us the Kentucky Resolves of 1799, Again, he refers specifically to the term “Nullification: 

RESOLVED, That this commonwealth considers the federal union, upon the terms and for the purposes specified in the late compact, as conducive to the liberty and happiness of the several states: That it does now unequivocally declare its attachment to the Union, and to that compact, agreeable to its obvious and real intention, and will be among the last to seek its dissolution: That if those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence: That the principle and construction contended for by sundry of 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 colour of that instrument, is the rightful remedy……..

Let me ask you, Mr. Shelley: If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power. As it stands now, the federal government has a monopoly on the meaning of the Constitution (through its appointment to the federal bench of liberal and progressive justices who consider the Constitution a “living, breathing document” rather than a compact memorializing the intentions of the States when they delegated the specific powers to the central government, what the provisions were intended to mean, and the scope of those powers). Whatever power it wants and whatever power it doesn’t want the States to have, it will usually be successful at the Supreme Court.

If Nullification is taken off the table (“It was a bad idea then and a bad idea now,” according to Mr. Shelley), if this most powerful weapon in the arsenal of states to check the abuses of the federal government is to taken from them, then we essentially have no effective way to prevent the federal government from doing whatever it wants……. (As Madison warned in Federalist No. 41).

I don’t know about you, Mr. Shelley, but I’ll take Thomas Jefferson’s word over yours.  I’ll take it every time. He’s the one with the authority and the insight as to what our founding principles are. He wrote the Declaration of Independence for God’s sake. And he wrote, or helped to write, a lot of other important founding documents as well

The Tenth Amendment expressly informs that the states retain all their sovereign powers (minus any power voluntarily and expressly delegated to the federal government or any prohibited to them by the Constitution). Whenever the federal government assumes powers not delegated to it by that document, it naturally encroaches on the powers of another sovereign (ie, the States, or even the People themselves). The States need to defend their sovereignty or they will lose it – little by little, inch by inch., legislation but legislation, court ruling by court ruling. That is why Nullification is a founding principle. It is the companion to the Tenth Amendment. It is the teeth of the Tenth Amendment. The States, as Jefferson and Madison make clear, have every right to declare actions of the government unconstitutional, declare them “null and void,” and refuse to enforce them. When they do so, proper government balance is restored. That is what Nullification is all about and that is why it is such a powerful tool.

People who don’t understand the power of this doctrine should stop bashing it and start to read up on it. The longevity of our country just may depend on its use.

Mr. Shelley, you accuse me of being “unhappy,” and I am. I’m unhappy and frustrated.  And I accuse you of being close-minded because you fear that nullification would do nothing useful except produce chaos.   

I hope what I’ve written here makes some sense to you and you will give the topic a second chance.


Thomas E. Woods, Jr, NULLIFICATION – How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, Regnery Publishing, Inc (Washington DC), 2010.

The Kentucky Resolves of 1799 –

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolves of 1798-1799, Jack Miller Center –

Thomas Woods, “Nullification: The Jeffersonian Brake on Government

A Government Cannot Determine the Scope of Its Own Powers,” Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), March 1, 2002.   Referenced at:

About forloveofgodandcountry

I'm originally from New Jersey where I spent most of my life. I now live in North Carolina with my husband and 4 children. I'm an attorney
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