Because some state governors and legislators might just follow the advice of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, and nullify the unconstitutional federal health care act, despite the convoluted opinion of five politically connected federal lawyers!
Yes, according to Horwitz, suggesting states refuse to comply with an unconstitutional act necessarily carries with it a call to violence. To make his case, Horwitz trots out the ranting of a certifiably insane murderer, sprinkles it with a few select hyperbolic statements by some fringe “leaders” on the “right” and ties it neatly together with a tacit charge of racism.
Horwitz opens his Huffington Post article with the following quote from Jared Loughner.
“You don’t have to accept the federalist laws.”
You might remember Loughner as the nut-job who gunned down Rep. Gabriellel Giffords, along with six other people, in Tucson back in January 2011.
In this era of polarized politics, it is not surprising that the right is up in arms about the Supreme Court’s recent decision on health care. And I do mean — literally — up in arms.
And there you have it. With one sweep of his broad rhetorical brush, Horwitz paints every American who doesn’t accept that the Unites States of America were united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government as unstable, mass murderers just looking for the opportunity to start shooting.
Horwitz bolsters his argument with the tried and true tactic effectively wielded by virtually every opponent of nullification – brand all supporters with the racist label by reminding everybody that the principle was advanced by southerners trying to preserve segregation in the 1950s, while ignoring the fact northern abolitionists also “borrowed language directly from Civil War era secessionist Senator John C. Calhoun,” to justify nullification of the fugitive slave acts in the 1840s and 1850s.
Nobody who actually knows the history of nullification would embarrass themselves by trying to make it the exclusive domain of racists. And of course, nobody with a functioning cerebrum would accept a deranged killer, along with a few fringe “leaders” on the “right” like Ted Nugent, as representative of any legitimate political movement.
And therein lies Horwitz’s strategy.
Guilty by association.
He wants you to know, this is no legitimate political movement. And by trotting out a lunatic and a few examples of extreme rhetoric, Horwitz dismisses a principle advanced by two of the most revered figures from America’s founding generation as some kind of crackpot theory that could only be advanced by the mentally ill.
Sorry, James. Sorry, Tom.
Horwitz argues that, “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It was enacted by duly constituted authority.” Therefore, any refusal to comply with the “law” represents insurrection and will embolden others to take violent action.
Defiance is a no-no! Shut up and go vote!
He must really hate Rosa Parks.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks defied the law of Montgomery, Ala., enacted by a duly constituted authority. She refused to go to the back of the bus.
When the white only seats in the front of the Cleveland Avenue bus filled with passengers, leaving several white men standing, bus driver James Blake moved the “colored” section sign behind the row Parks was sitting in and demanded that she and the three other people move to seats in the rear of the bus.
The three other people in the row complied.
Parks did not.
“When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not,’” Parks recalled in a 1987 PBS documentary on the Civil Rights movement.
“No, I’m not.”
That’s what the Tenth Amendment Center believes state legislators, governors and courts should say when the federal government insists they submit to powers not granted. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize a federal health care system. Jefferson said “whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force,” and “a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.”
Horwitz does not approve. He goes to great lengths to make sure we understand that the PPACA stands as a legitimate law because Congress passed it, the President signed it and the Supreme Court ruled on it. Amazing! All of the branches of the federal government agree on the extent of the power of the federal government!
In 1850, Congress passed a new Fugitive Slave Act. The 1850 act made a farce of due process, allowing for the arrest of a suspected runaway slave based on the word of the “property owner.” He simply had to swear an affidavit attesting to his “ownership” of the person in question.
“In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the first [fourth] section mentioned, shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of such person or persons by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever.” (Emphasis added)
By the way, the Supreme Court had already ruled state resistance to the earlier fugitive slave act unconstitutional.
But northern states actively defied the federal law, invoking the principles of Jefferson, Madison, and yes, even Calhoun. Northern states gave the Supreme Court the proverbial middle finger and passed aggressive “Liberty Laws.” For instance, an 1855 Massachusetts act called for the removal of any state official who aided in the return of runaway slaves. Another section authorized impeachment of state judges who accepted federal commissioner positions authorizing them to prosecuted fugitive slaves. A Michigan act passed in 1855 denied the use of state or local jails for holding suspected runaway slaves and guaranteed any accused fugitive slave a jury trial.
I’m sorry, northern lawmakers, Josh Horwitz does not approve. You should have ignored the basic right to due process and simply handed those black folk back over to their “owners” without question, whether they were free or not. It was, after all, the law of the land.
And I’m sorry Mrs. Parks. Josh Horwitz does not approve. You should have taken your rightful place in the back of the bus. It was, after all, the law of Montgomery, Alabama.
Horwitz seals his argument with a quote from Atlanta Journal editor Ralph McGill’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1958 editorial.
It is not possible to preach lawlessness and restrict it. Let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gates to all those who wish to take the law into their hands.
That raises an important question. What is lawlessness? A federal government acting outside of its constitutional authority with impunity? A federal government taking the law into its own hands and determining the extent of its own power? Or a duly constituted state legislature saying, “No, we will not let you simply ignore the constitutional limits on your authority, and no, we will not submit to your unconstitutional acts?” Where does the real danger lie?
Abram Smith was a justice on the state Supreme Court that ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional and therefore null and void in the state of Wisconsin. He offered an answer to that question in his justification of state interposition.
“The real danger to the Union consists, not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the constitution.”
Crazy people will do crazy things. The mentally unbalanced will become unhinged. Horwitz’s argument amounts to nothing more than fear-mongering and demagoguery. He wields the threat of violence as a club to bludgeon his straw man. Horwitz utilizes fear as a weapon against those who oppose unrestrained centralized power. He hopes his rhetoric will pummel us into silent submission, or at least convince the masses to marginalize us as violent kooks.
But we will not be silent. We will continue to oppose unconstitutional, lawless federal acts through the peaceful political process of state nullification.
Mr. Horwitz can keep his violence.
Latest posts by Mike Maharrey (see all)
- Six State Laws to Nullify Federal Actions in Practice Go Into Effect - August 3, 2015
- Paths to Nullification: In Law vs in Practice - July 23, 2015
- Federalist #8: Division and War Lead to Loss of Liberty - July 21, 2015