A Brilliant Exposition on the Effectiveness of Nullification: Thomas E. Woods' New Book, Nullification, Shows That Nullification Has Been Regularly and Effectively Used to Render Federal Laws Moot and That It's Time to Use It Again

By Eddlem, Thomas R. | The New American, August 16, 2010 | Go to article overview

A Brilliant Exposition on the Effectiveness of Nullification: Thomas E. Woods' New Book, Nullification, Shows That Nullification Has Been Regularly and Effectively Used to Render Federal Laws Moot and That It's Time to Use It Again


Eddlem, Thomas R., The New American


Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc., 2010, 309 pages, hardcover. See page 21 to order.

Nullification is an indispensable book about what could become the most effective means of stopping an out-of-control federal government: nullification. "Nullification" is simply an act by states (and occasionally individuals) to resist unconstitutional federal laws. The term "nullification" was coined by Thomas Jefferson in his 1798 Kentucky Resolutions that protested the Alien and Sedition Acts' unconstitutional criminal ban on criticism of the President. (The ban violated the First, Ninth, and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution). Loaded with primary sources among the more than 100 pages of appendices, Thomas Woods' Nullification should become an action manual for committed activists of the Tea Party movement on the issue of federal healthcare mandates and a host of other issues.

Woods begins his must-read book by exploding one of the three main arguments usually levied against state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws: There's nothing in the Constitution about nullification. The three basic arguments against nullification are: 1. It's unconstitutional, 2. It doesn't work, and 3. It is nothing more than a tool of racists or secessionists who want another civil war. Woods proves definitively that none of these arguments has the slightest merit. He is quick to point out in Nullification the irony of the first objection to nullification: Most of the politicians who pushed the healthcare law (and are presumed to be nullification opponents) don't care in the slightest about the U.S. Constitution anyway.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The author explains the constitutional justification for nullification of unconstitutional laws: the 10th Amendment. Indeed, nowhere in the Constitution is any branch of the federal government given the exclusive right to "interpret" the document. (Yes, it sounds silly to speak about needing an "interpreter" to read a document written in straightforward English prose, but that's the unfortunate terminology government uses today.) It's true that the Supreme Court has always acted as if it has the exclusive right to "interpret," but the supremacy clause in Article 5 of the Constitution merely stipulates:

  This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be
  made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be
  made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
  Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound
  thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the
  Contrary notwithstanding.

The supremacy clause simply states that judges must follow the Constitution, not that the Supreme Court is the exclusive judge of what is--or is not--constitutional. Likewise, other branches of government are bound to follow the Constitution. Article 2 specifies the President must swear to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." In fact, if there is an exclusive interpreter of the Constitution, it is the states or the people, since the 10th Amendment stipulates: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

If the exclusive right of interpretation is not expressly delegated to the United States--and indeed it is nowhere found in the text of the Constitution--then that authority clearly resides in the states and the people. The 10th Amendment is key to understanding both the limitations of the federal government as well as the unlimited nature of the response appropriate from the states and the people. The 10th Amendment figures prominently in Nullification.

Woods also exposes the canard that nullification has never been successful, taking this historical fiction out to the factual Woods-shed.

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A Brilliant Exposition on the Effectiveness of Nullification: Thomas E. Woods' New Book, Nullification, Shows That Nullification Has Been Regularly and Effectively Used to Render Federal Laws Moot and That It's Time to Use It Again
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