” Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. “
” The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. “
” How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.”
” If you want to stand in the room where America as an idea was conceived, visit Montpelier, where James Madison grew up, lived most of his life and died.
Montpelier is a beautiful place, nestled in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. On clear days, you can see the peaks rising in the distance through the second-floor window in the library of the restored plantation house. I stood in that spot recently and trembled at the magnitude of what took place there, in the mind of one man. “
” You can imagine Madison looking out that very window for inspiration during the months he spent alone there before the historic summer of 1787, poring over his own books and the many volumes of history, philosophy and politics sent to him by his friend and political ally Thomas Jefferson. When he emerged from his self-imposed intellectual retreat, Madison carried the ideas that would form the basis of the U.S. Constitution and its first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights.
Without those founding documents, our nation — which was then a shaky confederation of former colonies on the verge of squandering their hard-won independence from England — would not exist. And you would not enjoy the right to speak, worship, vote and assemble with others as you please. Neither would untold millions of other people across the world, freed from their chains by the ideas Madison not only forged but ceaselessly labored for, wrote about and campaigned to see ratified.
To be sure, the encouragement of Madison’s great mentor Jefferson (who also wrote a little something called the Declaration of Independence) was crucial. So was the instant credibility George Washington brought when Madison persuaded the beloved revolutionary general to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Many others contributed to the basic principles that went into the Constitution, both during Madison’s formative years in the Virginia legislature and during the long, hot summer of the convention itself, where he spoke more than 200 times. “
” But without Madison in his finest hour, where would we be today?
” As a framer and defender of the Constitution he had no peer,” historian Garry Wills wrote. “No man could do everything for the country — not even Washington. Madison did more than most, and did some things better than any. That was quite enough.”
He would go on to serve two terms as president, lead the young country through the War of 1812 and live until age 85, the last of the Founding Fathers to pass off the scene. Yet in that pivotal year of 1787, James Madison was 36 years old. And he was far younger when he began grappling with the ideas that would make him the “Father of the Constitution.”
I highlight Madison’s youth at the time in order to pose a question: Where are the Madisons of today? More specifically, where are the spiritual Madisons?”
” We keep hearing that the Millennials, born after 1980, are leaving churches in droves (or never joining in the first place), that they are wary of making commitments to faith communities, government, school, marriage or any other institution. They like having unlimited options, we’re told, and prefer digital social networks to joining or forming the groups that traditionally have held society together.
The Pew Research Center supplied more confirmation of those attitudes in its study released March 7, “Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends.”
” The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path into adulthood,” the study reported. “Now ranging in age from 18 to 33, they are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry — and optimistic about the future. … [H]alf of Millennials now describe themselves as political independents and about three in 10 say they are not affiliated with any religion.”
Pew said Millennials are “at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century [it] has been polling on these topics.” “
” You have to give Millennials credit for being optimistic about the future, given the crummy economic and career prospects they’ve been handed. Maybe that’s the natural energy and hope of youth. The grim economic outlook of recent years, not to mention massive student debt, also explains part of their reluctance to get married and enter into other major social or financial commitments. The issue of trusting others, however, is revealing.
” Millennials have emerged into adulthood with low levels of social trust,” Pew reported. “In response to a longstanding social science survey question, ‘Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?’ just 19 percent of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31 percent of Gen Xers [born from 1965 to 1980], 37 percent of [the Silent Generation, born from 1928 to 1945] and 40 percent of Boomers [born from 1946 to 1964].”
People tend not to interact with those they don’t trust — and definitely won’t willingly work with them, join churches or other voluntary organizations with them, or cooperate with them to keep civil society functioning.
Perhaps you’re a Millennial believer in Christ, but you’ve decided to take a pass on being part of a local church. It’s an outmoded institution encrusted with irrelevant traditions, you say. You’re “spiritual but not religious,” so you intend to worship on your own or with a few close friends. You plan to do ministry and missions that way, too, rather than bothering with bulky religious organizations that might waste your time and money.
It’s your choice. But consider this: What if James Madison had decided to go it alone after the American Revolution? He could have stayed at Montpelier and enjoyed his big Virginia plantation — and let others worry about a fledgling nation on the edge of collapse. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves and plunged into the long, exhausting task of dialogue, debate, compromise and coalition-building that went into creating the United States of America out of the competing interests of 13 ornery colonies.
The church, a far older institution than the United States, is also the body of Christ. Christ commands that we not only worship, serve and proclaim the Gospel alongside other sinners saved by grace, but that we love them.
In order to form a more perfect union, we must commit ourselves to renewing the imperfect one we have. We need you to be a part of it.”
” The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”
” Let’s just imagine we could transport an Internet-connected laptop back to the 1790s, when the United States was in its infancy. The technology would no doubt knock the founders out of their buckle-top boots, but once the original patriots got over the initial shock and novelty (and clearing up Wikipedia controversies, hosting an AMA and boggling over Dogecoin), the sense of marvel would give way to alarm as they realized how electronic communications could be exploited by a tyrant, such as the one from which they just freed themselves.
As America’s first unofficial chief technologist, Benjamin Franklin would be the first to recognize the danger and take to trolling the message boards with his famous sentiment: Those who would trade liberty for safety deserve neither. (And he’d probably troll under a fake handle, using Tor, since the patriots understood that some truths are best told with anonymity.)
Mass surveillance was not part of the original social contract—the terms of service, if you will—between Americans and their government. Untargeted surveillance is one reason we have an independent country today.
Under the Crown’s rule, English officials used writs of assistance to indiscriminately “enter and go into any house, shop cellar, warehouse, or room or other place and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there” in order to find tax evaders. Early patriot writers, such as James Otis Jr. and John Dickinson, railed against these general warrants, and it was this issue, among other oppressive conditions, that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth Amendment.
James Madison drafted clear language guaranteeing the rights of Americans, and it bears reading again in full:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner . You should reject these voices .”
Barack Hussein Obama
” Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
” In the ongoing federal government shutdown, one fiscal fact has raised some eyebrows. Despite the furlough of many federal employees, members of Congress are staying at work—with pay. One congressman, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), answered a question about this from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week by noting, “There is a bit of a constitutional issue … when you are dealing with the paychecks of members of Congress.”
One generally shouldn’t trust politicians to know what they’re talking about when it comes to the Constitution, but the congressman got this one right. The reason is the 27th and latest constitutional amendment, which states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” “
Illustration by Gary Varvel
” The Federalist Papers are a set of 85 essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, published in 1787 and 1788. These papers were written in defense of, and promoting, the new American Constitution.
At this time in history, America’s leaders knew that their current system of government, the Articles of Confederation, were not able to sustain their new and fragile country. The Articles were considerably flawed; the state governments held all of the power, and the central government held very little power.
This was the time when the first two political factions arose – the Federalists being in favor of the Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists who weren’t exactly in favor of the Constitution.
People who believe that the Constitution is a living document tend to argue that, “The Federalist papers were written to support the ratification of the Constitution only and are biased papers that don’t explain the intent behind the Constitution.”
However, this could not be more wrong. The entire purpose behind the essays was to support the ratification of the new Constitution as well as explain each part of the Constitution and why it was written the way it was.
Moreover, Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the majority of the papers, were in attendance at the Constitutional Convention; and they were among the thirty-nine signers. Because they were there and participated in the debates, they would have a more working knowledge of the intent behind each part of the new document.
Therefore, when explaining the Constitution in the papers, they were able to give first-hand knowledge behind the intent and creation of the Constitution. “
” As close observers of history and human nature, James Madison and the other Founders of the U.S. Constitution knew that the equal and unbiased application of the law to all people, especially elected officials, is essential to freedom and justice and one of the primary safeguards from authoritarianism and oppression by a ruling class.
And so, referring to the members of Congress, James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 57: “[T]hey can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.”
Today, elected officials need to be reminded of these truths. Under pressure from Congress, the White House has carved out a special exemption for Congress and its staffers from ObamaCare—the law it recently deemed necessary for the entire country. No Republicans voted for ObamaCare. Yet it appears that some of them support the exemption President Obama approved on his own—so they would not have to go on record with a vote for or against it.
Congress complains that without its special subsidies the Hill will suffer a “brain drain” as staffers leave their jobs because of increasing out-of-pocket insurance costs. Heaven forbid Congress suffer the same fate as private companies like UPS, which recently had to cut health-care benefits entirely for employees’ spouses; or labor unions, like the 40,000 International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers who recently left the AFL-CIO citing as one factor ObamaCare’s tax on their “Cadillac” health-care plans.”
” If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.”
” Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
” History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.”
” In a May 2 column [Alabama State Senate Embraces Crackpot, Antebellum Legal Theory], Robert Schlesinger relegated the idea of nullification to the historical trash heap. But if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson strolled down the streets of D.C. today, listening to current political discourse, they’d likely declare conventional wisdom holding the federal government supreme in all it does a “crackpot post-antebellum legal theory.”
Even Alexander Hamilton would undoubtedly express shock. After all, he was one of the first Constitution defenders to point out the limits of federal supremacy in Federalist 33.
Thirteen independent sovereign political societies came together to form the United States, delegating specific powers to a general government. Both supporters and opponents of the Constitution agreed the new government was to remain limited. The ratification debate revolved around one question: Would the Constitution create the limited government intended?
When anti-federalists insisted the government wouldn’t remain constrained, Madison countered that the states would serve as a check. In Federalist 46, he wrote that state “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” and “legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions” would serve to “present obstructions.”
” Nullification deniers such as Matthew Spalding of Heritage Foundation, Jarrett Stepman of Human Events, law professor Randy Barnett, David Barton of Wallbuilders, and history professor Allen C. Guelzo, say that nullification by States of unconstitutional acts of the federal government is unlawful and impossible. They make the demonstrably false assertions that:
Their assertions contradict our Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, our federal Constitution, and what James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton really said.
What are the Two Conditions Precedent for Nullification?
The deniers seem unaware of the two conditions our Framers saw must be present before nullification is proper and possible. These conditions are important – you will see why!:
What is “Interposition” and What is “Nullification”? “
” After all, he pays taxes for police and a standing professional army, does he not? He’s covered. So for him to get his hands dirty — and that’s what gun ownership is, a kind of uncouth, quasi-racist filth caked to the paws of those anti-commonsense gun-nut extremists we’ve been hearing from lately, who watch too many movies and fantasize about using their firearms to protect their families or communities (like that ever happens), or who think the 2nd Amendment is a check on government (like a government would ever turn on its largely disarmed people) — why, that’s just not who Josh is. He is above such tawdriness. Removed from such gauche, manual considerations.
Rather, Josh is proud that he, as a member of the civilized, educated class, has put the onus of protecting his family or community or even some nearby innocent from immediate threats in the hands of law enforcement and the military alone — often in contradiction to state constitutions, I might add, which either adopted or served as precursors to the USC for what comes to count as a militia, with distinctions being drawn between the professional militia, the ready militia (able males 17-45 and those who wished to become citizens) and the reserve militia (everyone else, including women and chilren). Or “the people,” all of whom were expected to defend the country should the need arise.
That is to say, Marshall is overtly proud that he’s surrendered his duty as a first responder for himself and his family and, in extremis, his community or nation, for the cheap grace of claiming no taint from the demon metal / polymer killing machine so fetishized by those who don’t recognize that arms are for hugging (and aborting fetuses), not for the pleasure or yahoos who believe themselves some bulwark against imaginary tyrannical evil. Besides, everyone knows the best weapon is an ostentatious new law coupled to a good, hearty Twitter sneer campaign. Drop bon mots, not bombs! “
“Political philosopherHBO know-it-all pundit Bill Maher had some really intelligent phraseology to describe The Constitution of the United States:
“I mean, a lot of it is bullsh*t. I mean, the Second Amendment is bullsh*t, the way they interpret the Second Amendment. The left completely forgot how to interpret that. I mean, it really is about militias at a time when, you know, there was a battle between the states and the government. It wasn’t really about private citizens owning a handgun.”
It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes.
In addition, there are the underlying rights, namely, the right to self-defense and the right of resistance. An article “Never Ask Who Should Rule: Karl Popper and Political Theory” written by scholar Andrea Pickel in 1989 described the theory of John Locke: “
” In The United States, there is NO entity vested with absolute power. The Supremacy Clause does not mean that states are bound by any law that the Congress wants to pass, as simple-minded pop-culture voices imply. It means that states are bound to the principles of The Constitution and the enumerated powers of the federal government. “
” In the nullification movement, there are varying degrees and methods of nullifying certain federal acts. One who has been with the movement a while could forget and hyper focus on one, leaving someone new to the movement to think of nullification as a very narrow spectrum.
To eliminate that thinking, it is good to go back to the Tenth Amendment Center’s definition of nullification, which is: “any act, or set of actions, that results in a particular law being declared unconstitutional and rendered null, void or even just unenforceable…”
There are so many opinions on nullification, if I listed every article and opinion piece written on it in the past week, I’d probably be finished with this entry sometime around next Christmas. This is not a bad thing. If others are talking about it, it means the message is being heard and cannot be ignored.
This is intended to be a general review, so while there is a time for everything under the sun, there is no time to include links and sources today, just a quick refresher. There is, however, a time when a certain forms of nullification may be more applicable than others.
The most commonly discussed type of nullification at the Tenth Amendment Center is legislative nullification. This is when a State or local government passes a law refusing to comply with a federal action. In the most forceful cases, this even includes arrest and jail time for federal agents attempting to enforce said federal act.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have nonbinding resolutions warning the federal government that a certain act is unconstitutional and/or unjust, much like a cease and desist letter. While not outright nullification, these resolutions “till the soil” so to speak, setting the stage for future action.
Legislative nullification can be very useful when used at the right time, such as opposing REAL ID, but can also be abused in rare cases, such as during the period of segregation (more about combating that later). The stronger bills, which would fall under the category of interposition, could lead to armed conflicts between state and federal officials, so courage and prudence should be carefully balanced when deciding how far a nullification bill should go.
Too little, and the legislature will either wind up having to draft a bill for stronger measures. Too much, and conflict gets created where it needn’t be.
A BROADER DISCUSSION
When we open our thought processes, and we allow for a broader discussion of nullification, it’s easy to see we don’t just have one hammer with which to try to fix every problem in our broken system. We have a massive toolkit at our disposal, with a movement consisting of individuals and groups with a very general surface knowledge, specialists in specific areas, and people who have an in depth knowledge of many or all areas of nullification.
The vehicle of liberty is broken and waiting in the shop. Let’s get everyone working on it, perhaps in different ways, but with the same goal in mind, complete and total restoration.”
” What Is It? State nullification is the idea that the states can and must refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws.
Says Who? Says Thomas Jefferson, among other distinguished Americans. His draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 first introduced the word “nullification” into American political life, and follow-up resolutions in 1799 employed Jefferson’s formulation that “nullification…is the rightful remedy” when the federal government reaches beyond its constitutional powers. In the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, James Madison said the states were “duty bound to resist” when the federal government violated the Constitution.
But Jefferson didn’t invent the idea. Federalist supporters of the Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788 assured Virginians that they would be “exonerated” should the federal government attempt to impose “any supplementary condition” upon them – in other words, if it tried to exercise a power over and above the ones the states had delegated to it. Patrick Henry and later Jefferson himself elaborated on these safeguards that Virginians had been assured of at their ratifying convention.
What’s the Argument for It? Here’s an extremely basic summary:
1) The states preceded the Union. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “free and independent states” that “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” The British acknowledged the independence not of a single blob, but of 13 states, which they proceeded to list one by one. Article II of the Articles of Confederation says the states “retain their sovereignty, freedom, and independence”; they must have enjoyed that sovereignty in the past in order for them to “retain” it in 1781 when the Articles were officially adopted. “
Nullification: The Rightful Remedy