It’s simple, really. Virtually the entire establishment, from left to right, absolutely hates nullification.
When these people join hands in attacking something, you know it’s good.
And that’s exactly what’s happening these days.
The old saying goes, “you’re not catching flak if you’re not over the target.” As a movement, a principle, an option – nullification is definitely in the cross-hairs.
The recent surge started last Saturday when Politico ran a lead story titled, “States seek to nullify Obama efforts.”
From there, “Real News” on The Blaze TV contacted me about a segment on Nullification. And then, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central had their turn.
Throw the Heritage Foundation in the mix, and you’ve got a pretty good representation of mainstream left and right.
Surprise, surprise: the consensus from this bunch is that nullification is bad, doesn’t work, is unconstitutional, or even dangerous.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
When Tal Kopan contacted me for the Politico story, I was happy to spend some time with her. In our conversation, it quickly became obvious that she was planning on framing nullification as partisan, and a tool that’s only used by the conservative right.
In our 30 minute conversation, I repeatedly pointed out that this is a false narrative, that nullification is used prominently by both the left and the right. She seemed surprised at first, so I made sure she knew what I meant. I pointed out that the two largest state nullification efforts in modern times have been marijuana legalization (which generally isn’t associated with the “anti-Obama” right-wing narrative) and the ACLU-led state resistance to the REAL ID act, which happened primarily under George Bush.
Certainly someone who was writing a “report” would have mentioned that. Someone who wanted to present a “narrative,” on the other hand, would not.
Just four days prior to the story running in Politico, New Hampshire’s Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan signed a medical marijuana bill into law, making that state the 20th (since California in 1996) to nullify some federal laws on that plant.
Did that make the story?
Well, Tal (or her editors, for that matter) decided to focus on what they felt was more important: that two states have passed laws to nullify federal gun laws, that 20 states have passed laws rejecting parts of Obamacare, and that half the states have “approved measures aimed knocking back the Real ID Act of 2005.”
No, they didn’t say a word about weed, not one peep. And they conveniently skipped the fact that the states who approved measures opposing the Real ID Act were led by the ACLU.
But making mention of those things would destroy their narrative with the truth – that people across the political spectrum are sick and tired of being pushed around by a government that claims the power to spy on us, tax us for sitting around, fly drones virtually anywhere and everywhere, throw us in jail for a naturally-growing plant, and much more.
Instead, they use the methods of Julius Caesar and Napoleon – divide and conquer. As long as they can keep everyone quibbling over what “side” they’re on, the establishment will continue to take more and more power every year.
From there, “Real News” on The Blaze TV reached out to me about being a guest on their show Tuesday night. They were doing a segment on nullification in response to the Politico article.
“You have to start doing things local and state in nature,” said Glenn Beck when talking in support of a Texas bill to nullify NDAA indefinite detention last fall. “There should be fifty states” doing the same, said Beck.
Knowing that history, I figured the “divide and conquer” methods of Politico would be set aside.
I quickly let the booker, Kristie, know that I was available to do the interview. And being in Downtown Los Angeles, getting set up at a remote studio is an absolute breeze. I gave her my address and phone number and let her know she should contact me to let me know when and where I was going.
She told me to “standby” while the show rundown sheet was confirmed. In other words, everything’s set, and they’re just finalizing the order and timing of the show.
But from there, crickets. It was getting a little late for the 3:30pm broadcast time, and suddenly I got a follow up email from Kristie asking me to share my talking points about what they planned to discuss.
Would you mind reading the topic below and sending me a few brief notes with your thoughts? (aka, reaction to subject matter)
TOPIC: NULLIFYING THE OBAMA AGENDA
37 states have introduced legislation to circumvent federal gun laws. 20 have done the same for Obamacare. It’s part of a strategy by state lawmakers to nullify federal laws they disagree with and, they say, at the same time, uphold the 10th amendment and states’ rights. But some question the wisdom, and more important the legality of this sort of legislation. Can it be successful if challenged in court? Is it really the best way to fight the federal government?
states seek to nullify obama’s efforts
Interesting, I thought – they were screening me to make sure I fit the narrative. But, it seemed like a good opportunity, so I replied quickly:
Happy to, I was interviewed extensively for that article.
My first thought is this – There are always “some” who question the “widsom and legality” of this kind of legislation – and it’s generally the people in power in Washington DC and their supporters. But this wisdom is something that comes directly from James Madison, the father of the Constitution, and Thomas Jefferson – author of the Declaration of Independence.
I could go on….
She replied immediately, asking for “a few more notes please.”
It was at this point that I mentioned it to my team – and someone suggested that Real News would likely be bringing on an “expert” on nullification from the Heritage Foundation (who are rabidly anti-nullification) and just wanted my talking points so they could plan on how to refute them.
I thought that as well, since Politico trotted out tired old Matt Spalding from Heritage to try to reject nullification. But, I figured it was important enough to respond. I shared nearly 200 words more.
A couple hours later, she replied with “We’re actually going to stand down on this segment for today. Thank you so much for your patience.”
Sure enough, they didn’t stand down on the segment. They talked about nullification, and brought on an “expert” from Heritage to tell people how nullification was something the states can’t do. The segment ended with a roundtable discussion referring to nullification as “undercutting democracy” and something that “erodes the rule of law.” Watch a clip here.
Sharing the same talking points as Rachel Maddow isn’t “Questioning Boldly.”
HAPPY THE CLOWN
Rounding up our week of establishment hit-pieces, The Daily Show had a grand old time with nullification.
“It’s impossible for the state to ignore federal law”
Shhh. Don’t tell that to the ACLU. Don’t tell that to Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. Don’t tell that to Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) who made his state the 21st to defy the feds on marijuana – just yesterday.
And definitely don’t tell that to the Supreme Court either. They’re of the opinion that things are the other way around – it’s impossible for the feds to force the states to carry out federal law.
In the 1992 case, New York v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress couldn’t require states to enact specified waste disposal regulations.
In the 1997 case, Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not command state law enforcement authorities to conduct background checks on prospective handgun purchasers.
In the 2012 case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that a significant expansion of Medicaid was not a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, as it would coerce states to either accept the expansion or risk losing existing Medicaid funding.
In each of these cases, the Supreme Court made is quite clear that their opinion is that the federal government cannot require the states to act, or even coerce them to act through a threat to lose funding.
But these people don’t care. They have an agenda – centralized power. Whether it’s conservative central power or liberal central power, our view is the same – nullify it.
Among the partisan hacks, there’s at least one decent human being, Buck Sexton. I never heard of him before that segment on Real News, but he at least seemed honest. Regarding nullification, he said that is was a “smart tactic sometimes.” And he even understood that it’s something that states are actually supposed to do saying, “It’s the duty of the states to push back when the federal government overreaches.”
James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, would certainly agree:
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.
Smart tactic? Absolutely. It’s the only one that has even a chance of stopping federal power. And that’s why the establishment hates it.
Latest posts by Michael Boldin (see all)
- Ten steps you can take to support the Tenth - August 16, 2014
- Under the Constitution: Limited Strikes Qualify as War - August 9, 2014
- Our Anniversary: Today the Tenth Amendment Center Turns Eight! - June 25, 2014