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Today, Paul Krugman decided to give us his wisdom on the subject of nullification – by saying almost nothing at all. In a short blog post, linking to a “report” by ThinkProgress, he notes – laughingly – that a Senate Candidate in Texas supports the idea of states nullifying acts of Congress. He doesn’t say a thing about nullification, but he’s obviously brushing it off as idiotic. As Tom Woods wrote on his blog today, “Paul Krugman thinks the idea of state nullification of unconstitutional laws is so self-evidently stupid that he doesn’t even need to offer an argument against it.”

Digging a little deeper – just a little, mind you – you’ll see that the ThinkProgress article he linked to was referring to Ted Cruz, who had a proposal where two or more states could work together to refuse compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Not outright nullification, but we certainly know that non-compliance in large numbers can in fact nullify a federal law.

ThinkProgress, the well-funded liberal blog which was vehemently anti-war while Bush was in office (now they don’t seem to think foreign policy is worth much of their time), has an interesting relationship with such nullification actions taken by the states. They turn a blind eye to them when Republicans rule in Washington. They sometimes give the image of cheering such efforts when politically popular. They attack and denigrate them when Democrats rule in Washington or when they oppose favored policies. And when they see nullification efforts getting popular among their own supporters, they simply freak out. All in all, these people, led by the crackpot pseudo-expert Ian Millhiser, are promoting an extremely dangerous view of how this country should be run.

Millhiser tells us that the Supremacy Clause provides that “Acts of Congress “shall be the supreme law of the land,” and thus cannot be nullified by rogue state lawmakers.” In other words, Congress passes a law, the President signs it, and it’s a done deal. Anything and everything is somehow authorized by the Constitution. But that begs the question. If the federal government can do anything it wants, why even write a Constitution at all? Here, Millhiser makes an argument that is so silly that it’s not worth my time. On top of it, his view of the supremacy clause is totally wrong. He knows it. He’s just counting on his readers not reading the clause, like Brion Mclanahan did.


In 2005, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration gave us the privacy-invading, state-commandeering, constitution-violating Real ID Act. In much of the country today, while the law is still on the books in congress and has never been challenged in court – it remains null and void. Why? Because of mass state noncompliance with the act which has led to its de facto nullification.

Did ThinkProgress have anything negative to say about such efforts? If they did, it sure wasn’t as prominent as their attacks on those who seek to nullify the federal health insurance mandate, or federal light bulb standards. Millhiser said that the embrace of nullification in those areas “threatens the very union itself.”

Isn’t it odd, then, that we didn’t hear a peep from TP about “threats to the union” when they reported on a Democratic governor nullifying the Real ID act in 2007? Here’s all they had to say,

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said “no, nope, no way, hell no” Tuesday to helping create the first national identifcation cards, signing into law a bill that blocks the state from complying with the REAL ID Act.

The articles linked in that brief report were to those supporting the nullification effort. The first was to an article from the editors of the Daily Kos, praising the Democrat for refusing to comply with the federal law. And the other to the ACLU’s Real ID website highlighting state resistance – and encouraging more widespread non-compliance.

If ThinkProgress were intellectually honest, they would’ve followed that up by saying things like – “The Governor of Montana just took the wildly dangerous and unconstitutional view that his state can somehow pick and choose what federal laws they want to obey.”

But they aren’t and they didn’t.

Even after Barack Obama got into office, TP continued to report on state nullification of the Real ID act – without a single negative word about it. In September 2009 Andrea Nill Sanchez reported that “at least 15 states have passed legislation blocking the implementation of REAL ID.” She somehow “forgot” to mention how dangerous state nullification was that time too.

In June of this year, Think Progress posted a report on how seven more states may legalize medical marijuana In 2012. With 17 states already directly defying federal marijuana law, you’d think that this article would’ve been an urgent alert informing readers how such state defiance on federal drug policies was akin to South Carolinians who supported slavery in 1865.

But of course, it wasn’t. It was supportive of the state nullification proposals – on weed.

I also didn’t notice any scathing attacks from ThinkProgress when Krugman’s own New York Times editorial board championed a medical marijuana law in New York last summer. And no, Krugman didn’t put out a short blog post talking about how his employers at the Times had lost all touch with reality by supporting a measure that violates federal law.

And just yesterday, Tara Culp-Ressler reported that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will continue to implement her state’s medical marijuana law regardless of its split with federal policy. But did Tara attack Brewer on marijuana policy like Ian did when Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed an executive order to refuse compliance with the medicaid provisions of the affordable care act? Of course not.

With that act of defiance Ian told us that the Idaho governor “has endangered the health of over more than 200,000 Idahoans and forced financial ruin upon his state.


The message from ThinkProgress? Obey. Or people will die. And the economy will crumble. These people sound like George Bush – let me spy on you and wage war around the world, or your safety is in danger.

I’m amazed that people still fall for this nonsense.

So what’s the practical result of what Krugman, Millhiser and the rest of the ThinkProgress team are telling us today? If you take it to it’s logical conclusion – which isn’t too far-fetched with Obama’s new NDAA “indefinite detention” law – the nearly 1 million who currently purchase marijuana under state law and in defiance of federal law, should be rounded up.

Such a move doesn’t appear to be that far off. Millhiser is now taking the position that there is “simply no question” that federal marijuana laws are constitutional. And, that citizens in states with marijuana laws are still required to follow them.

The only question that remains for Ian – how do you plan on fulfilling this requirement? Don’t be surprised when ThinkProgress starts pushing for federal agents to raid the homes of cancer patients – because they are, after all, helping nullify federal law.


In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a us better idea. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” – while denouncing the Alabama Governor for wrongly using nullification to continue the horrible practice of racial segregation – he taught us that tyranny is tyranny even when it’s “law” – and that such “laws” need to be defied. He wrote:

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.”

But according to our friends at ThinkProgress, all federal laws are supreme, and we can’t pick and choose which ones we want to follow. It’s up to our corporate-backed political overlords in Washington DC to do that for us.

Millhiser, Krugman, and the rest – they represent a wildly dangerous view of the constitution, and of society in general. They disagree with Dr. King that people can decide on their own what is “law” and what is tyranny. And they agree wholeheartedly with killers like Mao and Stalin – and modern ones like Bush and Obama – that there should be a “decider” ruling over us.

With these views in mind, I guess Millhiser would’ve arrested Rosa Parks too.

Michael Boldin

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