Free at Last! Martin Luther King and Nullification

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws.  This is certainly a legitimate concern.  Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in public schools, at first glance it may seem paradoxical for us consciously to break laws.  One may ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?”  The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust.  I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws.  One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.  I would agree with Saint Augustine  that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963

In some ways, it is ironic to use Dr. King as an example to promote nullification and interposition.  Dr. King, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” makes one reference to nullification and interposition, and it is not a flattering one.  Many state and local governments cited nullification when they refused to comply with federal legislation and court decisions against segregation.  It is the one unfortunate blight one can find in the nullification movement throughout American history.

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