Texas Nullificationists Secede From Federal Light Bulb Standards

Nineteenth century nullificationist Senator John C. Calhoun

In 2007, President George W. Bush signed a law that would gradually phase out older light bulbs that are both more inefficient and more expensive in the long run. Once President Obama moved into the White House, however, conservatives suddenly decided that it was their fundamental right as an American to waste their money on expensive and outdated light bulbs. The latest entrant into this war on lower electric bills is an unconstitutional nullification bill that just passed the Texas Legislature:

State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas — and sold in this state — avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

As ThinkProgress has previously explained, nullification — the theory that states can invalidate federal laws that they don’t like — is nothing less than a direct assault on the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution expressly states that acts of Congress “shall be the supreme law of the land…anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding,” thus expressly establishing that states do not have a veto power over federal laws. Thus, even if Gov. Perry does sign this attack on affordable energy, the attack is  clearly unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, this direct attack on the nation’s founding document would also give Perry an opportunity to tout his tenther credentials in advance of a possible presidential run. Indeed, given Perry’s past support for secession and his claims that the Constitution is flawed because it is too democratic, Perry could cement himself as the tenther candidate of choice simply by signing this wildly unconstitutional law.

In other words, Perry has a simple choice to make. He can pander to the most radical elements of the GOP base, or he can veto the law and actually uphold his oath to “protect and defend the Constitution and Laws of the United States.”