Know Your States’ Rights – a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all

Know Your States’ Rights

Posted by Bill Miller at

This article by Jeff Taylor on … The balance between the Supremacy Clause and the Tenth Amendment was maintained while each level of government stuck to its constitutionally proper areas of concern. But gradually federal power intruded into areas formally—and formerly—reserved to the states. Beginning with the Marshall court in the early 19th century, with its invention of the power of judicial review and its creative use of constitutional loopholes, the federal judiciary facilitated this growing imbalance. The Supreme Court’s bias should have been no surprise since it belonged to one of the competing levels of government. Once the federal judiciary decided to begin ruling in favor of its own team, there was no official mechanism that could stop the concentration of power in D.C. … Nullification begins with the axiomatic point that a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all. It is void and of no effect. Nullification simply pushes this uncontroversial point a step further: if a law is unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect, it is up to the states, the parties to the federal compact, to declare it so and thus refuse to enforce it. It would be foolish and vain to wait for the federal government or a branch thereof to condemn its own law. Nullification provides a shield between the people of a state and an unconstitutional law from the federal government. The central point behind nullification is that the federal government cannot be permitted to hold a monopoly on constitutional interpretation. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798, it will continue to grow—regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power. … Here’s another plus: disparate groups do not have to join together in one tenuous coalition. Nullification is a tactic that is ideology- and party-neutral. It has across-the-board potential. The people of Indiana, Massachusetts, California, and Alabama can all choose their own desirable paths for statecraft and commonweal. “Variety is the very spice of life,” Cowper wrote. The Anti-Federalists, and even some original friends of the Constitution such as Jefferson and Madison, agreed. We can add our assent today. 

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1 Comment

  1. Fun page, I actually enjoyed studying it, keep up the hard work.