Nullification is the pronouncement, by a sovereign entity, that centralized power infringes on the natural rights of individuals to lead their own lives and make their own choices, and won’t be abided. That sovereign entity may be a person, a family, a town or city, or an entire state. Sovereignty means the ability to exercise free will.
Nullification acknowledges that an idea that sounds well to someone in Lower Manhattan, also sounds absurd to someone in Aiken, and vice versa. Everyone knows that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Most of us don’t always agree with our own family members on how things should be, let alone strangers four states away.
In a snarky and condescending article in the Cheraw Chronicle, titled, “SC Nullification – Are these guys nuts?,” Phil Noble, president of the SC New Democrats, promoted several of the most repeated misconceptions and mischaracterizations of nullification, as reasons to oppose it. He repeated them without references, without diligence to the facts, and with malice.
In other words, he made stuff up, quoted hearsay (if that’s possible), distorted historical facts, and wrote scary-sounding examples based on what little bit is taught in public schools about our nations foundational ideas. The federal government writes the curriculum for our schools, and they’re not the type of people to let us crazy South Carolinians (Mr. Noble’s words) know what the writers of the Constitution said about states rights and our relationship with the central government. Contrary to political opinion in Washington, D.C, the states are not simply subordinate branches of the federal government there to do it’s bidding, but are sovereign states.
According to Mr. Noble, “this nullification stuff,” has been used only once before, in the years leading up to the Civil War, “the 1850s and 1860s,” and he alludes to the near destruction of southern states, as a result of an attempt at secession. Secession might be considered an extreme form of nullification, but it’s not one that’s being considered in South Carolina, or any other state, in 2013. It’s interesting that he puts “nullification crisis” in quotes, after that. He’s referring to the Ordinance of Nullification of 1832, in the sentence right after stating “the only time” was in the 1850s.
Nullification traces its history in the United States back to the Revolutionary War, our first, and most violent, act of nullification. Not long after, in 1898, The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions nullified the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts were “the law of the land,” but they also violated the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, so these two states formally refused to comply. These resolutions were written by the author of the Declaration of Independence and the main author of the US Constitution. Does Mr. Noble really want to argue with those two about what the Constitution says about states’ rights to nullify?
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was a federal law that the state of Wisconsin nullified. The people of Wisconsin didn’t believe they should have to repatriate escaped slaves back to the plantations. But hey, it was the law of the land! Ask Mr. Noble why that was crazy.
Anybody think President Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act was overbearing? I can imagine Mr. Noble saying “It’s the law of the land!” What are you going to do if the Supreme Court upholds it? What should Conservatives do if they don’t? What’s the real answer? Since the Constitution doesn’t mention marriage as a delegated power, the federal government doesn’t have the authority to say anything about it, one way or the other. The Tenth Amendment says it’s a matter to be settled by the states, or by the people.
The war on drugs has been going on since Nixon was president. My teenagers can get anything, ANYTHING, they want, after 40 years of “war.” However, the most deadly international border in the world sits between the United States and Mexico. The states of Arizona, California, Colorado, and Washington have nullified federal drug laws regarding marijuana. The power to regulate funny smelling vegetation (or any other plant) is not one of the enumerated powers granted BY the states TO the federal government, in the Constitution. So, any state that feels usurped, can and should nullify.
Later in the article, Mr. Noble, who ironically is Caucasian, plays the race card. None of the nullification bills in Columbia mention President Obama as an adversary, nor do they demean him. Let me ask this: if President Bush were in office when Congress authorized the President to send the Army anywhere in America, and arrest anyone that was on his “list,” and send them to Gitmo, would Mr. Noble have a problem then with sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which specifically allow that? By the way, these sections of the law violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 14th, and probably the 3rd Amendments to the Constitution.
Mr. Noble states S.92, NDAA Act, challenges the US Government on national defense issues. Which parts? S.92 simply states that no state law enforcement officer may aid the federal government in detaining a citizen of South Carolina under the fed’s assumed authority granted by the sections of the NDAA mentioned above. In my America, a guy in a White House, 800 miles away, doesn’t put me or anybody on a list, and send the Army around to lock them up. If that’s a crazy idea, call me crazy. That sounds like North Korea, to me. By the way, liberal Democrats out there, the ACLU agrees with the Tenth Amendment Center on the NDAA, and disagrees with Mr. Noble.
Centralized control over everyone’s medical care is the ultimate power of the government over the people. For evidence, visit any other country in the world, get sick or injured, and try to see a doctor. If you don’t know someone, or have a large bank account, forget it. That’s why politicians in DC like Obamacare. When Mr. Noble mentions Rep. Bill Chumley’s Freedom of Health Care Protection Act, he means H3101. Despite his claim of a $5,000 fine and five years in prison, it contains no criminal penalties. It just says South Carolina isn’t cooperating with Obamacare.
With Obamacare, there is no free healthcare, only loss of the right to choose what to do, with a doctor. If the feds take our money (taxes), then give back some of it (with strings attached), how can that possibly lead to free anything? It was our money to start with! Even if the feds were to provide something that someone else paid for (the common definition of free), you’d have a lot more people showing up to get whatever it is. In California, politicians have been promising free stuff for decades. How’s that working out? Mr. Noble mentions that the $11 billion Medicaid expansion will cost nothing. How can it cost $11,000,000,000 and $0 at the same time? Yes, the Federal Reserve, led by Ben Bernanke, can deposit as much money as they want in anybody’s bank account. Hooray for the guy that gets the Bernanke dollars, but that’s called inflation for the rest of us. Inflation makes everything cost more. How does inflation turn into free stuff? The politicians in Columbia who support Obamacare see these dollars printed from nothing, and think they’re worth something. They’re not.
Critics of H3101 have claimed that the use of the state’s airplane, to bring in a witness at the request of the bill’s sponsor, was unethical. Of all the uses of the state airplanes, flying in expert economist, to testify before a House committee, about the economic impact of Obamacare, sounds reasonable to me. Also, if these scary Republicans were so racist, as Mr. Noble claims, why would they fly in Walter E. Williams, a black economist? They could have found a white guy who would have bought his own airline ticket. Mr. Williams won’t fly commercial because he refuses to play the TSA games.
Nullification takes many forms. As mentioned at the top of the article, the Revolutionary War was the most extreme example of nullification. They were nullifying a tyrannical British rule. At the opposite end of the nullification spectrum sits a six year old nullifying his mom’s decision to serve broccoli for dinner. Somewhere in the middle, South Carolina follows the example set by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The SC legislature interposes between an overgrown, overbearing federal government, and the individuals that make up South Carolina. These nullification bills stop a bully, defend our rights to chose our own way in life, and protect the human dignity that comes with the exercise of our God given free will.