Tea Party Nullifiers Seek Revenge Against Florida Supreme Court Justices

Nineteenth century nullificationist Senator John C. Calhoun

Nineteenth century nullificationist John C. Calhoun

Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court nixed a state ballot initiative attempting to nullify part of the Affordable Care Act because the ballot language was misleading to voters.  In response, a Tea Party-affiliated group launched a campaign to remove two of the court’s justices from the bench:

Citizen2Citizen, partnering with the Central Florida Tea Party Council, is launching the “Restore Justice” campaign, advocating for a vote not to retain Florida Supreme Court Justices Jorge Labarga and James Perry this November, after placing politics above the law to deny Floridians of their constitutional right vote on Health Care Freedom (Amendment 9). Labarga and Perry upheld a circuit court ruling by Judge James Shelfer to remove Amendment 9 from the November ballot. As such, these justices sided with the liberal political agenda of four Florida citizens having close ties to the Obama administration who filed suit in late June, alleging that three statements (comprising a mere twenty words) in the ballot summary were misleading, to thereby disenfranchise millions of Floridians desiring to exercise their constitutional right to vote on the legislature’s proposed amendment.

This campaign is the second high-profile attempt by conservatives this election cycle to remove state supreme court justices who followed laws that they don’t like.  In Iowa, a Mississippi-based hate group called the American Family Association is funding a campaign to remove three justices who joined a marriage equality decision.

The Florida campaign is particularly bizarre, however, because it centers around an entirely useless ballot initiative. 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. Even if Florida did enact a law nullifying the Affordable Care Act, such a law would clearly be unconstitutional.

And nullification isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s also a terrible idea. In 1830, when Vice President John C. Calhoun was stoking a Nullification Crisis that nearly led to an armed conflict between South Carolina and the United States, James Madison wrote that allowing nullification would “speedily put an end to the Union itself” because it would allow the states to simply ignore any law they want. Florida could nullify the income tax, but keep on accepting federal grant money.

Sadly, however, nullifiers don’t really seem to care about the consequences of their actions, just so long as they can stick it to President Obama.

(HT: Daily Loaf)