Nearly 200 people packed a room in the Raleigh, N.C., convention center for the Nullify Now! event last Saturday.
The standing room only crowd spent an entire day absorbing information on nullification and learning how they can apply the principle to rein in an overreaching federal government today. The day’s slate of speakers covered the historical, constitutional, moral and philosophical case for nullification, and attendees responded enthusiastically throughout the day.
National radio host Mike Church kicked off the event with an overview of the formalization of the principles of nullification in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. Church explained the Alien and Sedition acts and then dug deep into James Madison and Thomas Jefferson’s response. He pointed out that it was the citizens of Virginia and Kentucky who inspired nullification, and read extensively from resolutions passed in local assemblies.
“It was the people who sparked nullification of the Alien and Sedition Acts. It wasn’t just a bunch of politicians,” he said.
Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey took the stage next, explaining the early history of nullification. Maharrey pointed out that northern, Federalist Party controlled states that opposed the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions embraced them when Jefferson initiated his embargo and when the Madison administration tried to conscript troops during the War of 1812. He went on to obliterate the conventional wisdom holding that nullification was used to support slavery. Maharrey went into detail explaining northern nullification of the Fugitive Slave Acts through personal liberty laws. He then personalized history by telling the story of Joshua Glover, an escaped slave who was captured in Wisconsin, freed by the people of Milwaukee and ultimately escaped to Canada. Maharrey then challenged the audience to stand up for freedom in the same way those who helped Glover did. He closed by reminding the audience of Rosa Parks and her bold stand on that Montgomery, Ala., bus.
“One woman saying, “No!” changed the world. Each one of you has that same power.”
Jason Rink closed out the morning session talking about modern applications for nullification. Rink heads up the Foundation for a Free Society and produced the nullification video. Rink focused much of his attention on the War on Drugs.
“Every time we have a war on something, we seem to get more of it. The war on poverty? The war on drugs? Maybe we should have a war on jobs!” he said.
Rink made a strong case for nullification, pointing out how the medical marijuana movement started in California back in the 90s, and now, despite federal objections and a Supreme Court ruling, 21 states have legal medical marijuana programs, not to mention the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state and Colorado. He then explained how we can use that same strategy to nullify other acts, focusing on the growing effort to stop NSA spying at the state and local level.
The early afternoon featured breakout sessions designed to help attendees take the principles covered in the morning session and apply them to specific current issues. It was nuts and bolts time. Break out topics included nullifying the federal reserve with Doug Tjaden of the Christian Liberty Project, nullifying Obamacare with North Carolina senatorial candidate Greg Brannon, nullifying violations of the Second Amendment with Dr. Dan Eichenbaum of Dr. Dan’s Freedom Forum, and effective grassroots activism with Join Adam Love from Campaign for Liberty, N.C., and Nicole Revels from Carolina Liberty PAC.
With the overflow crowd, event organizers had convention center staff open up the two rooms to provide adequate seating for the final two speakers.
You might find it tempting to underestimate Publius Huldah due her to slight stature. That would prove a mistake. Publius delivered a passionate and powerful defense of nullification, obliterating modern anti-nullifiers. Publius didn’t pull any punches, immediately and forcefully stating the problem facing America.
“The federal government has turned into an instrument of oppression and immorality.”
She went on to tackle the modern legal arguments against nullification, relying on her amazing grasp of founding principles.
“Nullification is the natural right of self-defense. Since it is not prohibited by the Constitution, it is legitimate,” she said.
She expounded on that theme, relying on James Madison’s Notes on Nullification, a text used by many to discount nullification.
Publius wasn’t subtle about what we should do to stop unconstitutional federal acts.
“We must refuse to comply,” she said. “All nullification requires is a spine.”
Tom Woods took the stage with the crowd already fired up. Woods literally wrote the book on nullification. His 2010 book by that title brought the principles of nullification out of obscurity and into the mainstream.
Since earlier speakers thoroughly covered the history of nullification, Woods focused his remarks on the importance of decentralization. In typical Woods style, he didn’t hesitate to skewer a sacred cow, taking aim at the Pledge of Allegiance.
“At the very least, I must urge you to go silent at ‘one nation indivisible.’ That’s an unAmerican principle.”
Woods went on to explain that the United States was never “one big blob,” but a union of sovereign political societies. He then made a solid case for decentralization, pointing out the failure of the centralized state in the 20th century. He also highlighted successful decentralized societies through history.
“For human excellence, human advancement and even security, it is not necessary to have large political units.”
Woods summed up the message of the day in his speech. The federal government violates the Constitution on a daily basis. And the mainstream media and the political class encourage and thrive on it. Washington D.C. will never solve America’s problems – it IS America’s problem. They system is broken and we the people must work at the state and local level to put it back together again.
“They want us like hamsters on a wheel. We need to take a crowbar to the wheel, break the glass and go wander around.”