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A Few Tiny Thoughts on Nullification

Update:  I started this over last weekend, however there’s been quite a bit of movement making it almost irrelevant.

Now that Egypt is free and my tweeter feed isn’t ablaze I’ve been able to focus on more local issues which is how this tweet caught my attention which gave a link to ThinkProgress written  by Ian Millhiser entitled, Idaho Nullificationists Poised To Kill Medicaid In That State.  The closing paragraph from Ian’s post:

ThinkProgress previously reported that the leading proponents of Idaho’s nullification bill — including Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) — decided to move forward with this ill-considered proposal after reading a book on nullification by leading Confederate apologist Tom Woods. As it turns out, there are very real consequences when state officials abandon the advice of real legal experts in favor of crackpot pseudo-historians like Woods. One of those consequences could be the end of Medicaid in Idaho.

Notwithstanding the possible loss of Medicaid funding that would directly affect my 28 year-old developmentally delayed nephew, I wanted to find why nullification was drawing such a strong, decided response from Idaho’s legislators.  Not to mention how not only Idaho’s governor but several Idaho legislators ‘just happened to have’ copies of a book that specifically promotes nullification as a method for “fighting federal tyranny” in the ‘battle’ currently being used as a legal strategy against the Patient Protection & Affordable Health Care Act, fondly referred to as “Obamacare” by idiots everywhere.  The book: ‘Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century’ is written by Thomas Woods, Jr., a Harvard/Columbia educated historian.  The reason for Inadvertently  found the reason why good ole’ boy Butch and GOP legislators had the book.

The resurfacing of this doctrine in Idaho is at the behest of Wayne Hoffman and the IFF, which “brought Woods to Boise State University last fall, have distributed copies of Woods’ book, and worked with lawmakers on the particulars of the nullification plan.Hoffman and the IFF are seeking to utilize legal and monetary resources of the state of Idaho in another effort to revise history. In the process these camouflobbyists are also irresponsibly recreating an
incubator for sedition.

One of the most compelling questions was how the author validated  his argument(s) for nullification.  Mr. Woods has a website wherein he has an aptly named essay, ‘Nullification: Answering the Objections.‘  I’ve read it twice and too much time is merely  spent mocking and deriding “critics” and distracts terribly from the content of the essay.

In wanting to understand this, I’m blogging about it. That’s it.

Nullification in its  political or governmental form is simply the refusal to recognize or enforce federal law(s) based on Constitutional grounds.  It was ominously defined by a U.S. History site:

Short of secession, nullification is the most extreme position of the states’ rights philosophy. It is based upon the belief that the Union was a voluntary joining of sovereign states and that those states had the right to nullify, or invalidate, within their boundaries any unconstitutional actions of the federal government. This view is an extension of Jefferson’s belief in the supremacy of individual and states’ rights over federal governmental powers.

The nullification concept was first raised by the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in 1798-99 in reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts. In 1809-10 nullification was briefly revived by New England states which opposed a national embargo (Non-Intercourse Act).

This led to the supremacy clause (curiously capitalized by Mr. Woods though not as such in the Constitution) of the Constitution – Article VI of the Constitution, stated as such:

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, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

[ An interesting note is that Mr. Woods capitalizes the phrase.]

Referenced was the decision of Cooper v. Aaron (1958) which reinforced the supremacy clause of the Constitution specifically to  Brown v. Board of  Education (1954), “which held that the states were bound by the Court’s decisions, and could not choose to ignore them.”

Seems fairly clear cut to me.  To me . . . not to Mr. Woods and his fawning supporters.

Mr. Woods in his essay claims he addresses why nullification can be used and supposedly validates his argument supporting his claims.  I don’t think he does

Last Sunday afternoon I spent about 20 minutes speaking to a Democratic Representative about what transpired during the JFAC hearing, Medicaid recipients and the resounding impact for them if the legislature passes the nullification bill.  She also mentioned the disdain David Adler underwent  as a constitutional scholar particularly expressed by  Gayle Batt whose primary concern appeared to be that, perhaps, Professor Adler was there “on the taxpayer’s dime.”  What that had to do with the Constitution I’m not so sure.

I was fortunate to be able to get a copy of Mr. Woods’ book, the same one good ole’ boy Butch and other ReThugs have in their possession. I plan to peruse it and attempt to write something coherent to understand what the hell is going on.

In the meantime, I found two posts written by Sisyphus to be immensely helpful with one discussing how nullification process “protects bad insurance practices.”



4 Responses

  1. Understandable why much of the time would be spent mocking and deriding critics, since the alleged “critics” are speaking without knowing the first thing about the subject, while meanwhile smearing Woods (by calling him, as above, a “leading Confederate apologist”). A “leading” Confederate apologist? The Confederate cause must be pretty desperate if a “leading” apologist is someone who never writes a thing on the subject and favors violent slave uprisings and the nullification of fugitive-slave laws.

  2. Not having done enough digging on Mr. Woods’ writing, I don’t know everything on which he’s written. I’m not certain what that ‘leading Confederate apologist’ is about.

    Well, I disagree. If you want to be taken seriously as a self-declared constitutional scholar, you don’t spend so much mocking and deriding your critics that it detracts from your content. It’s filler bullshit regardless of the writer.

    The issue is nullification. I’m picking up Mr. Woods’ book from the library today and will read it to get a better feel where he’s coming although I don’t agree with his assessment.

  3. Silly goose. Didn’t you read my posts on the subject? It could have saved you time. I find it interesting that George denies Woods’ neo-confederate activism when he was a founder of one of its organizations, which SPLC labels a hate group. Woods conveniently disassociates himself from the group now, so he can get invited to mainstream events like CPAC last week.

  4. Yes – I did read your posts. I wrote primarily because sometimes in not understanding a concept I have to write or talk it out. I saw the tie-in of Woods association with ‘neo-confederate activism’ but didn’t check it out.

    I picked up his book and started it. He’s got this ‘thing’ about the 10th Amendment:

    “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.”

    It’s like going in circles.

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