Saturday, August 07, 2010

Andrew Jackson's proclamation on Nullification

President Andrew Jackson's classic statement against nullification should be required reading for anyone silly enough to propose nullification as a serious doctrine in the 21st century. Nullification wasn't even a serious doctrine in the 19th century.
The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject—my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you—they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled. Their object is disunion, but be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force, is TREASON.
Read Andrew Jackson's entire proclamation on nullification here.


Rev. said...

Andrew Jackson is not more of an authority on the Constitution than Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. The concept behind nullification is that the federal government has limits, and any attempt to enact laws outside those limits is *by definition* null and void. Nullification is a refusal of the States to be complicit in the enforcement of unconstitutional acts. The author must not understand that, if allowed to become the sole arbiter of the scope of its power, the federal government will only grow and grow. The word for that is 'tyranny.'

J.C. Wilmore said...

The commenter is correct when he says that Jackson is no more an authority than Jefferson or Madison.

What the commenter must come to grips with is that the final arbiter of the U.S. Constitution is the U.S. Supreme Court, and the concept of nullification was rejected by the court unanimously in COOPER v. AARON, 358 U.S. 1 (1958)

Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are binding authority when interpreting the U.S. Constitution and laws. Its called "Stare Decisis." Do you understand this?

COOPER v. AARON and the cases cited within it killed nullification dead, and you are deluding yourself--and possibly flirting with treason--if you believe otherwise.

Josh Eboch said...


I'm not sure Andrew Jackson is the best choice for this whole anti-consent-of-the-governed bent you're on.

After all, much like modern-day liberals who rightly supported state iniatives refusing compliance with REAL ID, Jackson was for Nullification before he was against it. (Remember "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it"?)

And would you please stop trying to pretend that Nullification was an invention of anti-tax agitators in the 19th Century? As an another commenter on an earlier post pointed out, many northern states used the principle to invalidate portions of the Fugitive Slave Acts long before the 1830 crisis in which Andrew Jackson played a part.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Actually Josh, I think we both know that the modern theory of nullification you and other tenthers are pushing dates from the 1950s and Massive Resistance. Are you really going advocate on behalf of a discredited segregationist legal theory?

From Wikipedia:

Nullification and the related doctrine of interposition resurfaced in the 1950s in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which decided that segregated schools were illegal. At least ten southern states passed various measures preserving segregated schools and refusing to follow the Brown decision. The advocates of these measures argued that the Brown decision was unconstitutional and that the states had the inherent power to prevent that decision from being enforced within their borders. However, the Supreme Court rejected this idea in the case of Cooper v. Aaron, finding that the state governments had no power to nullify the Brown decision. The Supreme Court held that the Brown decision "can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation."

In any event, nullification was buried by the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Cooper v. Aaron.

Josh Eboch said...

Wow, that's orginal. Do you accuse everyone who disagrees with you of latent racism, or just those whose arguments you can't counter with logic?

You can ignore the numerous examples of liberty-enhancing uses of Nullification that pre- and post-date Massive Resistance if you want, but closing your eyes and covering your ears while yelling "COOPER V. AARON" at the top of your lungs isn't going to change anybody's mind.

J.C. Wilmore said...

No where did I mention the word racism. I simply noted that the most recent attempt to use nullification as a legal theory was its employment by segregationists. That employment led directly to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring nullification completely void and without legal merit.

I do find it interesting that you feel drawn to a legal doctrine that has been employed by secessionists, neo-confederates and segregationsists. When you choose to push a legal theory like nullification, you need to realize that you are going to have to carry all the baggage that goes with it.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Oh, and Josh, I don't have to change anyone's mind. We're talking about the law. If anyone were foolish enough to base a legal claim on nullification or act on your advice, they'd be sued and the plaintiff would cite Cooper v. Aaron and they would win.

Nullification is not a valid legal theory. Deal with it.

Rev. said...

JC - what you must come to grips with is that SCOTUS is the final arbiter of the US Constitution due not to any provision in the Constitution but to Marbury v. Madison. While they will never call it so, the decision in Marbury was unconstitutional in and of itself, though no one seriously challenges it anymore. Nullification is not, actually, a dead end theory. Go visit a State with medical marijuana laws, or buy some alcohol with the federal ID card you don't have - because REAL ID was nullified. Try again, JC.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Rev., go ahead and act on your beliefs, just don't complain when you have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

If you think you are going to overturn Marbury v. Madison, then you are delusional.

Rev. said...

JC - Like I said, no one seriously challenges Marbury v. Madison anymore. I certainly don't. Cooper v. Aaron holds that the States are bound by the decisions of federal courts, not that they are obliged to uphold unconstitutional laws that make their way through Congress. You seized upon the word 'nullification' and think that's a catchall term, but it isn't.

Now I'm going to go nullify this sandwich, if that's all right with SCOTUS.