One of the worst examples of the right wing’s contempt for the Constitution is the bevy of unconstitutional proposals state lawmakers have introduced attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act. The 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,” so our founding document specifically denies the states a veto power over federal laws.
Though a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court decision reaffirmed that federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land,” Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is promoting the nullification idea, too. In his January 10 State of the State speech, he told Idaho residents “we are actively exploring all our options — including nullification.”
Sen. Monty Pearce, an Idaho GOP lawmaker who plans to introduce a nullification bill early next week, wanted to be the first one to give Otter a recently published book on the subject, “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.”
But Otter beat him to the punch.
“I took that copy and tried to give it to the governor,” he said, pointing to a copy on his desk. “He already had a copy.” . . .
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., author of the 2010 book “Nullification” that Otter and Pearce have in their Idaho Capitol offices, argues states have the final say on issues as grave as when the government forces citizens to spend their hard-earned money.
Woods is, to say the least, a questionable source of counsel for a sitting state governor and state senator. One of the founders of the neo-Confederate League of the South, Woods once published an article declaring the Confederacy to be “Christendom’s Last Stand.” In it, he endorses the view that the Civil War was a battle between “atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other,” and he concludes that “[t]he real watershed from which we can trace many of the destructive trends that continue to ravage our civilization today, was the defeat of the Confederate States of America in 1865.”
And Woods’ pet issue — 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. And Madison was right. Simply put, nullification is nothing less than a plan to remove the word “United” from the United States of America.