Thursday, August 05, 2010

McEachin skewers McDonnell for flirting with nullification

Bob McDonnell is the latest Republican to flirt with neo-confederate ideas like nullification:
[McDonnell] also fielded questions about how to deal with the problems of illegal immigration, the influence of lobbyists, losses in education funding, the placement of electricity-generating windmills and the constitutional question of "nullification."

While complimenting the questioner on his knowledge of the Constitution, McDonnell declined to say whether he backed that notion, a legal argument that a state may invalidate or nullify a federal law it believes violates the 10th Amendment's delegation to the states or the people all rights not designated to the federal government.
Nullification is one of the concepts underlying secessionism, and earlier today State Senator Donald McEachin lowered the boom on McDonnell for flirting with this dangerous and unconstitutional claptrap:
Senator McEachin Reminds the Governor that
Nullification has been Deemed Unconstitutional

Richmond – Today, Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) responded to Governor McDonnell’s comments in Roanoke yesterday (as quoted by the Roanoke Times) that he “declined” to express an opinion on the legitimacy of nullification. Senator McEachin said, “I am extremely dismayed and concerned that our governor has apparently neglected to review recent American history or leading Supreme Court cases. Not even sixty years ago, in a response to attempts to ignore Brown v. Board of Education in which African-American children were first given the opportunity for an equal integrated education with white children, the Supreme Court ruled on Cooper v. Aaron. In this extremely significant case, the Court ruled that because the Supremacy Clause of Article VI made the United States Constitution the Supreme law of the land and Marbury v. Madison gave the Supreme Court the final power of judicial review, then all states are bound by federal law and bound by Supreme Court decisions.

“But even if the Governor has forgotten these Constitutional law principles, he should surely recall the amount of blood spilled, families and homes decimated and young men killed the last time states made foolish decisions based on nullification. Surely, as governor of Virginia which is criss-crossed with battlefields and graveyards of those who died fighting in that war and those who died trying to protect their homes and families and the numbers of slaves and free blacks who died trying to protect their loved ones and their few and meager possessions, he should know that no good can come of this kind of foolish and dangerous talk.

“We are Americans, proud to be part of the greatest democracy on earth, and if we disagree we have legal, political and legislative means to resolve those disagreements. Living in a democracy means that if we don’t like what is happening we will have an election and we can peaceably, within our Constitutional procedures and rights, address those grievances.

“Finally, like every other elected official, Governor McDonnell took an oath to uphold the US Constitution and all the Articles and clauses within that document. Nullification is not legal and declining to respond is not acceptable. I expect our governor to uphold the law and the Constitution and to refute unconstitutional and illegal drivel when he hears it.”

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Cargosquid said...

Except, that, it hasn't. What amendment to the Constitution forbids succession?

It was decided by force of arms when the Union conquered another country, the Confederacy.

But not by Constitutional law or amendments.

And Nullification is still a valid argument. It, too, has not be invalidated.

The powers that be don't want a clear answer in case THEY want to use it, in the future.

Rev. said...

Neo-Confederate? Are you serious? So when, say, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared, in 1854, that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was unconstitutional and Wisconsin did not enforce it, that was a neo-Confederate gesture, right? Or was it a paleo-Confederate gesture? (The State high court decision, incidentally, was ultimately overturned in Ableman v. Booth - a victory for slavers and pro-federals alike, presumably the precedent to which you and McEachin refer when you say that nullification is 'unconstitutional.') Or were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, respectively - the men who first argued for the doctrine of nullification - were they neo-Confederates? No, 'neo-Confederate' is a meaningless, baseless smear intended not to convey an idea but to excite emotion and close discussion?

This is why the mainstream political and journalistic class is hemorrhaging respect daily. Politicians and journalists alike presume to feed our opinions to us, with little garnishes like 'neo-Confederate' to top it off. All style, no substance. Keep trying. There are still some who swallow your opinions as fact, but that number continues to shrink.

pontala said...

The defenders of centralized governmental power (a.k.a. tyranny) despise the Jeffersonian idea that the citizens of the states have a right to nullify what they believe to be unconstitutional federal laws. That’s why it was necessary to have our bill of rights in order to ratify the US Constitution. The 10th amendment is very clear and direct on this issue “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.” Thomas Jefferson clearly explained if you allow the federal government to be the sole judge of it’s own powers surely it would interpret it so it would expand it powers. Every time the federal government creates an unconstitutional mandate it is null and void! The states have the duty to nullify unconstitutional mandates from the federal government it clear to me that senator Senator McEachin is only an pirate that has the federal government interest in mind.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Nullification is not a right. It does not exist. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down 9-0.

pontala said...

The states have a right, even a duty, to nullify unconstitutional laws, which if the law violates the Constitution there is no law at all. Thomas Jefferson in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 first used the term "nullification." He was simply expounding on political thought that had been around since the early Colonial period. Jefferson and James Madison wrote in 1798 that a state must resist federal enforcement of an unconstitutional and dangerous policy.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Thomas Jefferson did not participate in the writing of the U.S. Constitution nor was he ever a U.S. Supreme Court justice. His opinions as to what the Constitution allows in terms of "nullification" powers is just that: the personal opinion of a private citizen.

On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court in COOPER v. AARON, 358 U.S. 1 (1958) ruled 9-0--a unanimous decision--that there is no such thing as "nullification." No where does the word "nullify" or "nullification" appear in the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments, including the 10th Amendment.

Simply put: there is no such thing as "nullification." It is a legal fantasy.