by Michael Boldin

NOTE: This article was sent as an op-ed to all major (and many minor) newspapers around the state of Idaho recently. Rejected by one and all. You’d think, with all the attention that they’ve been giving to nullification in that state, they’d be interested in publishing a view from TAC – the original author of the health care nullification bill they’re slamming. But that doesn’t fit in their little republicans vs democrats box they want to keep us all caged in.


Nullification is all the rage in some circles these days. Like Idaho. Recently, the state house there became the first legislative body in the country to pass a health care nullification act, and the opposition is not too happy about it.

Idaho Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane told us that states can’t just “pick and choose” which laws to follow. And, editorials have been blasting the idea for weeks, giving out-of-staters the impression that only the wacky fringe would support it.

But, that view is completely wrong. Idahoans support nullification – by a wide margin.

As the founder and director of the Tenth Amendment Center, I know a little about this nullification thing. Our organization has been leading the 10th Amendment movement for nearly five years now, and we’ve spearheaded actions in support of nullification around the country. We even created the health care nullification legislation that’s been used as a model for introduction in Idaho and other states.

To really understand what’s going on here, we must first answer this question – what is nullification?

It’s pretty straightforward. Nullification is any act(s) which results in a particular law being rendered null and void, or unenforceable, in the state.

So, in 2008, when the Idaho legislature passed – without dissent – House Bill 606 to declare that “the state of Idaho shall not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID act of 2005,” it was participating in a nationwide effort (championed by the ACLU) to effectively nullify the federal law.

When the Department of Homeland Security directly threatened Americans that year, telling them they wouldn’t be able to fly if their states didn’t comply, Idahoans didn’t cave. You ignored the threat and you’re still able to fly today. Much of the country dealt with it the same way. Famously, Montana’s Democratic Governor Schweitzer exclaimed on NPR, “we found that it’s best to just tell them to go to hell…”

The result? Mass refusal to comply has forced the feds to back off and “delay implementation” not once, not twice, but three times. In most of the country today, the act is effectively null and void. Thank you, Idaho, for standing up with two dozen other states and nullifying George Bush’s unconstitutional act!

But that’s not the end of it for Idaho. Just this month, the highly-respected Boise State University Public Policy Survey found that nearly three-quarters of Idahoans support medical marijuana for the state.

News flash, folks. Laws on the books in Congress say that marijuana is illegal, period. And, the Supreme Court has already given the country their view on the subject too. In the 2005 Gonzales v Raich case, they ruled that all state marijuana laws were, according to them, unconstitutional.

So where’s Brian Kane to tell 74% of the state that they just can’t “pick and choose” which federal laws to obey? Where’s Idaho House Minority Leader John Rusche to tell Idahoans that rejecting federal laws and supreme court decisions on marijuana is a waste of “time and taxpayer dollars?”

The silence is deafening.

I guess Rusche won’t be co-sponsoring the Idaho Compassionate Use Act (House Bill 19), but if he believes in the democratic process, he should. And we should expect Kane to tell Idahoans to simply ignore the fifteen other states – most recently, Arizona – that are actively defying both Congress and the Supreme Court on medical marijuana. Ignore them, because federal laws can’t be disobeyed in Idaho. That’s his message.

Have the people of Idaho ever violated federal law to the point that it was unenforceable? I don’t know, but it’s high time that they started.

And in the end, if medical marijuana or health care nullification takes hold, the People will have spoken loudly – nullification is alive and well…in Idaho.

Michael Boldin

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