NOTE: This article was written on behalf of the Michigan Tenth Amendment Center by Kenneth Lloyd.
At a time when the American people are having their liberty trampled upon and discarded by perhaps the most rule-breaking president in American history, it is encouraging to see that nullification movement is showing signs of success. Although Michigan may be lagging behind, this phenomenon is gaining momentum in state legislatures across the country. We must follow in their footsteps if we are to preserve freedom, and smack down Obama’s unconstitutional schemes.
Despite the fact that some of the people who oppose the notions of independence and decentralized power like to describe proponents of nullification as being radical, extreme or fringe, America’s Founding Fathers considered it to be a valuable tool for the people to use to protect themselves from federal government tyranny. One of those Founding Fathers was the “Father of the Constitution” James Madison. In Federalist #46, James Madison wrote: “… should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States… refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union… would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
Madison was saying that, when the federal government acts in an unconstitutional manner, refusal on the part of the governments of the several states to cooperate with that violation would effectively thwart to evil impact that the violation would have on the liberties of the people. One would only have to observe the way Congressional Republican leaders like U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell work alongside Pres. Obama to destroy our rights to come to the conclusion that we cannot continue to count on the idea that voting for either side in federal elections will help to restore and protect our liberty. Instead of voting for the red team or the blue team, we should take Thomas Jefferson’s advice. He called nullification ‘the rightful remedy.’ It is past time to take this remedy and run with it.
The nullification approach to fighting federal tyranny advocated by the Tenth Amendment Center is based on a legal doctrine known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. One of the first U.S. Supreme Court cases that helped to establish the anti-commandeering rule was Prigg v. Pennsylvania. In that case, Justice Joseph Story held that it was illegal for the federal government to force of the states to help implement and execute the Fugitive Slave Act of 1790. He stated the following:
It might well be an unconstitutional exercise of the power of interpretation, to insist that the states are bound to provide means to carry into effect the duties of the national government, nowhere delegated or entrusted to them by the Constitution
In Arizona, voters approved Prop. 122 last year that follows the advice laid out by James Madison and in the Prigg v. Pennsylvania ruling. The proposal gives the Arizona state government the power to “pass referendums, bills or use other legal means to end cooperation with unconstitutional federal acts.” It essentially put the anti-commandeering doctrine into the Arizona state constitution, giving additional credibility and notoriety to the idea. What has resulted has been an avalanche of bills in the state of Arizona that have challenged the antiquated notion of federal supremacy like never before.
During this year’s legislative session, we have seen bills emerge in Arizona that would thwart unlawful federal executive orders, block Obamacare enforcement, nullify Common Core, block all unlawful federal rules and regulations, stop EPA mandates and nullify federal gun control. These bills are moving through committee assignments quickly and receiving affirmative votes in their legislative chambers. Putting the anti-commandeering doctrine into the state constitution has stifled critics, and helped these important bills to gain traction. Other states are following in Arizona’s heroic footsteps as well.
In Oklahoma, there is a proposed amendment to their state constitution that would “establish that the ‘state may exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are inconsistent with the Constitution’”. In Texas, House Bill 1751 was introduced by Texas State Representative David Simpson (R – Longview) to create a formal process allowing Texans to cut off financial support to the federal government when they act in an unconstitutional manner. It would also empower the Texas legislature with the authority to “interpose itself between the federal government and persons in this state to oppose the federal government in the execution and enforcement of federal law.” A similar measure introduced in North Dakota was even approved by the state House demonstrating the growing momentum behind this idea.
Michigan legislators desperately needs to follow in the footsteps of these trailblazing states. Freedom activists must demand that their legislators introduce a bill or propose a Constitutional amendment to re-affirm the validity of the anti-commandeering doctrine similar to Arizona Prop. 122. This would allow We the People of Michigan to exercise our right under this provision by amending our state’s constitution to include a provision that would “establish that the ‘state may exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are inconsistent with the [U.S.] Constitution’’. By reclaiming our state sovereignty, we can preserve our liberty for future generations. However, it won’t happen without your help. Get on the horn with your state legislators, and demand that they uphold their oath to the Constitution.