by Larry Perrault on February 10, 2011 at 8:31 AM
In my last post, I again made reference to the idea that states ought to refuse to comply with unconstitutional federal directives. There is affirmation for such nullification in the founding era, explicitly discussed in pre-constitutional deliberations and in the culmination of the consequent Bill of Rights, The Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” A web page supporting nullification, raising the question of how we should respond to unconstitutional federal intervention, goes directly to Thomas Jefferson: “In 1798 he wrote that ‘whensoever’ the federal government ‘assumes undelegated powers,’ that a ‘nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.’
Several comments on my post advocated secession. I think I listen pretty intently to the popular media buzz, and almost no one is talking about that, and didn’t through the torturous and destructive-to-freedom two years of President Obama and a large Democratic Congressional majority. Perhaps they think of some extraordinary complications that I haven’t, or perhaps no one with a public platform is so distressed and/or deprived by what has happened so as to entertain such severe options. So, let’s make sure we distinguish the two options, and what they might accomplish.
In the first place, nullification or something that amounts to it if even if it didn’t go by that name, would certainly present a less startling prospect and could if widely adopted, chasten the federal government regarding its proper limitations and afford the states a more constitutional recognition of their own domain of sovereignty. We might hope that the federal government would more capably attend them once reminded what its constitutionally enumerated powers are.
In an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, alluded to a letter he sent to Kathleen Sibelllius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services that is massively empowered in the Obamacare legislation, that was signed by 21 STATES, INCLUDING TEXAS. In it, he says that states can participate in a new health care system, IF the federal government will waive the most destructive provisions of the current plan and allow states and individuals deference in designing and choosing available plans. First of all, Daniels is kind enough to say that the states will play along when in fact his suggestions amount to gutting the impractical and unconstitutional provisions of Obamacare. And secondly, Daniels does not go into detail about what will be done if the offer is refused, though he makes it plain that, as is, the law is an onconstitutional and impossibly expensive and chaotic catastrophe. As I have suggested before, if not repealed or judicially overruled, as Daniels also said they would prefer, the law IS going to dramatically change in its implementation because it’s an impossible joke. It would only be a matter of how much of a beating Obama wants to take in trying to preserve it. As it was proposed and passed, stick a fork in it; Obamacare is dead.
If Obama decides not to be counted a historical sub-zero President, at some point it’s only a question of how much of a state's revolt he will provoke. Without him, today’s rush of state assertion would not have happened. If we will hold states and ourselves accountable for our social ideals and charge the federal government to mind its enumerated duties, that could be a marked and substantial change of American conduct.
But as for secession, even in states with relatively lop-sided divisions, there are very substantial populations on the minority side. In other words, even if successful and not militarily challenged, secession takes with it a large and maybe unmanageable adversarial population. But if the ideologies could be capably divided, and that might require 3 or more fractions, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to focus on other aspects of life and stop debating the sanctity of human life, commanding of otherwise free markets, the necessary components of a marriage, man-caused anthropogenic global wa…uuuh climate change, HOW and BY WHOM OUR children should be educated, etc….silly things like that. Good riddance. One can dream…