Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis). A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)

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Forget Nullification, Says ‘Conservative’ Group; Stick to the Establishment’s Rules

30th November 2012      by: Tom Woods     

Someone on my Facebook page (which I hope you will like) sent me a document drafted by a small group in Wisconsin (the Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty [WGL]) that strongly opposes nullification — the Jeffersonian idea that the states must, according to the very logic of the Union, have the power to prevent the enforcement of unconstitutional federal laws within their borders.

The group’s statement is wrong in nearly every sentence, so for pedagogical purposes I have decided to examine it closely.

Here are some of those sentences, along with my commentary and corrections.

First, let us start by being clear as to what nullification is…and how it is viewed by the legal community.

The “legal community” was trained in American law schools, which if anything are worse than American universities as a whole in terms of promoting a particular point of view (in this case, Hamiltonian/Marshallian nationalism) and pretending no others exist. A Tea Party organization should want to challenge the “legal community,” not meekly sit at its feet, cross-legged, awaiting instruction.

It [nullification] is a state’s refusal to comply with a specific federal law, which that state considers to be unconstitutional, to the extent of breaking the federal compact (our federal Constitution, although not referred to here in the sense of legal “compact theory”), in the form specifically of the Supremacy Clause of our Constitution which states that the Constitution trumps all other laws, especially that of the individual states.

So according to the WGL, a nullifying state is breaking the federal compact and ought to be singled out for condemnation, but the possibility that the passage of an unconstitutional law by the federal government might break it is so trivial as not to be worth mentioning. Very strange priorities for a “limited-government” outfit, don’t you think?

The WGL gives us a slight improvement on the Official Law School Version of the Supremacy Clause. “The Constitution” trumps state laws. (This is better than the usual Official Law School Version, which says, “Federal law trumps state law.”) That’s true as far as it goes, but it’s irrelevant to nullification. A nullifying state is claiming that a particular law violates the Constitution. It begs the question to reply by saying the Constitution trumps all. That is precisely why the state is nullifying the law in the first place — to vindicate the Constitution against an unconstitutional law.

For what the Framers actually meant by the Supremacy Clause, see my article Nullification: Answering the Objections, and Brion McClanahan’s recent book The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution. But it obviously did not mean that any old law the federal government might pass was on par with “the Constitution” and therefore “supreme.” No one in his right mind would have ratified the Constitution under that understanding.

It is based on a theory originally proposed in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 authored by Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 authored by James Madison and later cited and advanced by John C. Calhoun. The Resolutions were published ANONYMOUSLY for good reason – namely the possibility of the Resolutions being called treasonous and due to the government positions of Jefferson and Madison at the time of writing.

The idea of nullification actually extends back to Virginia’s state ratifying convention of 1788, as Kevin Gutzman has shown and as I note in my book Nullification. The Tea Party seems to cheer the possibility that the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions might have been regarded as treasonous. The correct response to the possibility that the authors of these documents — which simply sum up the obviously correct compact theory of the Union — might have been hanged is horror, not delight.

These Resolutions were rejected by every one of the other states. Every state immediately realized that these resolves were a rejection of the Constitution and threatened the integrity of the Constitution and the cohesion of the nation.

This is not true. I count seven states that issued statements against the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. We are supposed to believe that these states were just so concerned that the “integrity of the Constitution and the cohesion of the nation” was threatened by the power of the states to protect themselves against unconstitutional laws.

In fact, however, six of those seven states explicitly declared the Alien and Sedition Acts to be perfectly constitutional. These states supported the idea that journalists ought to be thrown in jail for criticizing John Adams. The WGL left that part out. No wonder those states opposed the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions!

Also left out by the WGL is that within less than ten years, some of these very states were themselves defending the Principles of ’98, as the ideas of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions became known. In 1820, the legislature of Ohio overwhelmingly approved a resolution noting that the great majority of Americans shared these views — views, one might add, which swept Thomas Jefferson into the presidency in 1800.

At the time, political leaders stated that the damage of the Resolutions was “deep and lasting, and was a recipe for disunion.”

But the damage of the Alien and Sedition Acts was so trivial as not to be worth mentioning?  Again, what kind of priorities are these?

At the time of the Resolutions’ writing, there was no recognized “power of a state to reject unconstitutional federal law” and there is none now; contrary to the flyer’s statement otherwise. The flyer claims that nullification is “implied in the Constitution” but does not say where the implication is written although we surmise that the author of the flyer will say that such power is to be found in the 10th Amendment. If one cannot undertake to lay a finger on that article of the Constitution that is the unquestionable source of such a “constitutional power” then one must conclude that it does not exist.

Let’s start with the last sentence first. The WGL evidently thinks the states have only the powers expressly granted them in the Constitution. A more grotesque misunderstanding of the Constitution can hardly be imagined. The federal government has only the powers mentioned in the Constitution. The states and the people hold the remainder — in other words, all the powers not mentioned. To claim that the states do not possess the power of nullification because it is not mentioned is to misunderstand the Constitution entirely. Indeed the WGL has the Constitution exactly reversed.

The WGL is also incorrect to say no power to resist unconstitutional laws was recognized. We are to look to the ratifying conventions for the meaning of the Constitution, said Madison, and Virginia’s ratifying convention was perfectly clear that the states held such a power.

Federalist supporters of the Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention 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. Virginians were given this interpretation of the Constitution by members of the five-man commission that was to draft Virginia’s ratification instrument. Patrick Henry, John Taylor, and later Thomas Jefferson himself elaborated on these safeguards that Virginians had been assured of at their ratifying convention.

The Kentucky Resolution of 1799 declared that Kentucky “will bow to the laws of the Union” but would continue “to oppose in a constitutional manner” the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Virginia Resolution did not use either the word or the concept of nullification. It used interposition which is an entirely different concept from nullification. Like nullification, interposition has also been repudiated by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

Since Kentucky believed that nullification was a constitutional manner of resisting unconstitutional laws, I do not see the WGL’s point here. The further claim that the Virginia Resolutions in no way envisioned nullification cannot be taken seriously. A glance at the Virginia General Assembly debates over the Resolutions makes this clear. Kevin Gutzman, the most recent biographer of James Madison, likewise doesn’t buy it, finding no essential difference between the language of the resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky. (See Kevin R. Gutzman, “A Troublesome Legacy: James Madison and ‘The Principles of ’98,’” Journal of the Early Republic 15 [1995]: 569-89.) Judge Abel Upshur, in his 1833 pamphlet An Exposition of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, systematically refuted the claim that the Virginia Resolutions were calling for anything other than nullification. (Upshur’s work is reprinted in my Nullification.)

The WGL then claims Daniel Webster refuted the idea of nullification in the Webster-Hayne debates. If I say Hayne in turn successfully refuted Webster, which he indeed did, what have we thereby resolved? Like the Left it is supposed to oppose, the WGL is evidently committed to the nationalist view of the Union that the Jeffersonians correctly and heroically resisted for generations.

The flyer quotes Jefferson and Madison in support of the idea of nullification but uses earlier 1790s era citations rather than quotations from later in their lives when they recanted against [sic] the nullification concept. During the Nullification Crisis of 1832-33, Madison rejected South Carolina’s thesis stating that those who were leading the move to nullify and using his words from the Resolutions had misinterpreted his statements. He denounced nullification as a “colossal heresy”, a “specious doctrine”, “a more fatal inlet to anarchy cannot be imagined” and called it a “deadly poison”.

Jefferson never recanted his views on nullification, since they followed naturally from the compact theory of the Union. As for Madison, the WGL never explains why his protestations over three decades later are to be preferred to his statements at the time. The WGL even cites Kevin Gutzman on Madison, evidently without realizing that Gutzman’s argument is that Madison’s later protests are feeble and incoherent. As Gutzman put it, “One of Madison’s most notable ‘tactical adjustments was his campaign, as a retired former president, to becloud the events of 1798 by denying they had meant what they plainly had meant.”

Madison’s claim that he had never intended to propose nullification is very difficult to credit. That is certainly how other state legislators understood his words at the time. Indeed, Madison’s frequent change of positions throughout his career was well known. As Albert Taylor Bledsoe put it, “The truth seems to be, that Mr. Madison was more solicitous to preserve the integrity of the Union, than the coherency of his own thoughts.”

Madison even tried denying that Jefferson had included the word “nullification” in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, an assertion he knew was false since he had seen the draft himself. When a copy of the original Kentucky Resolutions in Jefferson’s own handwriting turned up, Madison had to withdraw that claim.

When Madison tried to weasel out of his position three decades later, placing a weak and inoffensive gloss on his original words, people asked: if that was all you meant, why even bother drafting such an inane resolution in the first place?  And for heaven’s sake, when numerous states disputed your position, why in the Report of 1800 did you not only not clarify yourself, but you actually persisted in the very view you now deny and which everyone attributed to you at the time?

The WGL then says the Supreme Court has rejected the reasoning on which nullification is based, citing such cases as Ableman v. Booth (in which the Court said the states couldn’t resist the Fugitive Slave Act — nice example there!) and the obscure obiter dicta of Cooper v. Aaron. In this latter case, the Supreme Court expressly declared its statements to have exactly the same status as the text of the Constitution itself.  But no matter what absurd claims the Court makes for itself, Madison’s point in his Report of 1800 holds – the very structure of the system, and the very nature of the federal Union, logically require that the principals to the compact possess a power to examine the constitutionality of federal laws.  Given that the whole argument involves who must decide such questions in the last resort, citing the Supreme Court against it begs the whole question – indeed, it should make us wonder if those who answer this way even understand the question.

Here’s how Madison replied to the judicial supremacists, in a passage the WGL evidently overlooked:

The resolution of the General Assembly [the Virginia Resolutions of 1798] relates to those great and extraordinary cases, in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the parties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department also may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution; and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution, to judge whether the compact has been dangerously violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority, as well as by another; by the judiciary, as well as by the executive, or the legislature.

However true, therefore, it may be, that the judicial department, is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the Constitution, to decide in the last resort, this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government; not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial as well as the other departments hold their delegated trusts. On any other hypothesis, the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it; and the concurrence of this department with the others in usurped powers, might subvert for ever, and beyond the possible reach of any rightful remedy, the very Constitution which all were instituted to preserve.

The WGL goes on to explain why we have a Supreme Court:

so that there is one consistent authority and not numerous and competing, conflicting authorities.

Of course, the flourishing of “competing, conflicting authorities” happens to be how liberty came to Western civilization.

One way to get rid of “competing, conflicting authorities” would be to have a world government. On what grounds could the WGL object to such a thing? Wouldn’t it be a lot more efficient, with much less possibility for conflict and confusion?

Nullification is the political “n-word” and is treated as such. Those that use it are dismissed as kooks, crack-pots, malcontents and dismissed out of hand as radical extremists and constitutionally uneducated.

By this point it should be obvious who the constitutionally uneducated are, and it isn’t the supporters of nullification. Anyone who promotes the truth about U.S. history, the Constitution, the economy, and just about anything else will be condemned by our so-called intellectual class as a crackpot. Any truth-teller is going to be called names. That is not a good reason for being a coward instead, and meekly playing by rules designed by your enemies.

So how does the WGL intend to hold back the federal government? See if you can follow this passage:

There is another, fourth option, a more obstructionist strategy of simply refusing to make a choice and “just say ‘no’” without stipulating what the state shall do in response to the federal government. Leave it open ended and “remove the consent of the governed” by reverting to citing the unconstitutionality of the PPACA through pointing to the error in the SCOTUS ruling – the SCOTUS has erred many times in the past so this is no surprise to anyone – think Dred Scott v. Sanford. We are advocating this precise stand. There are enough SCOTUS rulings that work in the states’ favor to refuse assent and cooperation with the federal mandates. See NY v. US (1992) and Printz v. US (1997) for more detail.

I have no idea what that means.

Imagine the chaos if nullification was successful; everything would be contested by the states and the federal government would now be even less effective than it was under the Articles of Confederation.

For the WGL — which supports “limited government,” remember — the real danger is that the federal government keeps passing all these wonderful laws, and there’s a chance some states might miss out on some of these great laws if they nullified them.

So the WGL can look at the U.S. government as it exists at present — shot through with injustice, expropriation of the public in countless forms, contempt for the Constitution, and so on — and conclude that the real danger is that it might be stripped of some of its authority and be less able to achieve its aims. Why, whatever would we do if some of the states decided the federal government might not have these powers after all? Chaos!

But as Upshur noted in 1833, is it not also a kind of chaos for the federal government to act without restraint? Why do those who shout “chaos” when a sliver of the public considers nullifying one federal act fall silent when it comes to the gazillions of unconstitutional measures taken by the federal government?

Also, wouldn’t an organization that claims — I am tempted at this point to say pretends — to favor limited government be of the opinion that the vast bulk of federal laws passed today are unconstitutional? And if so, so what if the states nullify a bunch of them? So we’d be that much closer to a free society in some parts of the country — and this is something to deplore?

In short, the position of the WGL appears to be as follows: we must not adopt any position that might cause us to be called names by respectable people. We must adopt all the fundamental assumptions of the regime. We must assume that the Marshall Court’s cases were all decided correctly. We must assume that the nationalist theory of the Union is correct, even though it is contradicted by the most basic facts of U.S. history. We must not try to change the minds of our fellow citizens to get them to think in new and forgotten ways. We must accept judicial supremacy. We must do nothing unconventional. We must, in short, stick to the same strategies that have yielded the “conservative movement” precisely zero victories over the past hundred years.

Maybe it isn’t the nullifiers, after all, who are being unreasonable.

[Don't let this happen to you. Pick up a copy of Nullification for ten smackers. And learn U.S. history from Kevin Gutzman, Brion McClanahan, and me.]

Unlearn the Propaganda!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Schooler/100003032488972 William Schooler

    Why are you?

  • Brett

    I know someone who attended George Mason for law school. I would try it first, as it at least has a ‘good’ name. Walter Williams is there in economics so they at least are open to the truth there.

  • http://twitter.com/AnarchoLibertyn Anarcho Libertine

    Modern-day ‘liberals/progressives’ (i.e., Democrats) are horrible, but these Teapublican-types (like WGL) may be worse, for how confused and morally rudderless they are.

    The “4th option” was a particularly convoluted message…WGL spent all that time and effort arguing against nullification and then puts forth what can only be called NULLIFICATION…insane!

    As someone who has taken the leap to Voluntaryism, these kinds of ‘legal/political’ doctrines are just boring anyways…no one has a moral right to initiate aggression against others–that goes for people DBA “the state” too. If you can’t get that through your head, all of your constitution/republic-worship is worth a damn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bevin-Chu/100003454433777 Bevin Chu

    Fabulous article.

    As usual, mainstream “intelligentsia,” and I use that term advisedly, have it ass backwards.

    The presumption must always be in favor of the individual and liberty, not in favor of the state and “state security.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bevin-Chu/100003454433777 Bevin Chu

    I’m wondering the same thing.

    William’s “rebuttal” reads like a machine translation, and a bad one at that.

    And that is apart from the grossly flawed reasoning re: natural rights and individual sovereignty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/poindexterstoo Joel Poindexter

    That’s (mostly) what I gathered from that. Funny that the last two schlubs that have railed against nullification have concluded their hit pieces by advocating one form or another of… nullification.

  • Anonymous


    Have you seen WGL’s rebuttal to your analysis of their position. I think they raised a few interesting points that I hope you will reply to. I am in agreement with you that their understanding of the Constitution seems odd and their position on nullification is weak (especially given the “solution” they proposed), but the assertion they made that “Nullification” has never been successful in US history is disturbing. I also found their statement that you could not answer any of the questions they posed to you during your “late night meeting” with them on August 28, 2010 in Eau Claire Wisconsin to be a rather interesting (and somewhat unbelievable) claim. What say you?


  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    I haven’t seen it. I have no idea what “late night meeting” they are talking about. I gave a speech in Eau Claire and then I hung around and talked to people informally. There was no “late night meeting.” I probably answered 50-75 informal questions. Maybe one of their people was there and was unsatisfied with one of my answers. But at no time was I told, “Now is your meeting with the Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty.”

    As for nullification not working, South Carolina would beg to differ. It got a tariff compromise. When has the Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty strategy worked? Where are all the gains of the conservative movement? I see none. Very strange that people whose ask-no-fundamental-questions strategy has yielded absolutely no victories whatever would be criticizing others for proposing ineffectual remedies.

  • Anonymous


    Sorry they referred to it as a “late night meeting”, here is the excerpt:

    Some of our members attended the speech that Dr. Woods gave that
    afternoon at the invitation of Campaign For Liberty. Then afterwards, we talked with him well past midnight. During that late night meeting, we asked a number of questions which Dr. Woods tried to answer…

    Interesting, in their rebuttal they specificially cite the 1832 Nullification Crisis in South Carolina as a failure of Nullification, claiming that it led eventually to session and the Civil War. They also bemoaned what they call the ‘inevitable “Lawfare” challenges’ in Federal courts should state legislatures try to use nullification against such laws.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    Nullification clearly did not lead to the Civil War. And yes, the courts will tell us this can’t be done. But at some point, doesn’t someone have to tell the courts to go stick it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1151528127 David Afton

    I’m just gratified to see someone finally use the phrase “begging the question” properly. So many people, instead of recognizing it as a logical fallacy contained in an opponent’s circular reasoning, nowaday use it to mean “now, your last statement really makes me want to ask this next question, which is…”
    By the way, I have read several of your books (including Nullification) and agree completely. In fact, it’s so obviously true, that “agreeing” is sort of silly—like agreeing with you that blue and yellow combine to make green.

  • EdD

    “Either they were lying, which I believe Hamilton was (or he’s just a psychopath ”
    I agree. Aaron Burr, though vilified as a traitor in our popular history, really performed a great service to liberty when he faced Hamilton in a duel and lit his ass up.

  • jaffi411

    “Why have you” what? Now multiply that by 10 per paragraph, and then you might understand our quandary.

  • Wulirider


    Great article and most informative. Appreciate.

    Question in general, if the compact between the federal government and the states allows for secession, and I agree that it does, as Tom points out, then would not the natural extension also pertain to the States, possibly leading to areas and regions seceding within the States? That is, leading toward Neal Stephenson’s idea from The Diamond Age, and currently being promoted by Doug Casey world wide, that 5,000 phyles, or modified city-states would unfold, bringing governance down to groups, communities of like-minded ethnic, cultural or common-agreement, compacts of ‘live and let live’ in smaller communities? That one or more of these would form compacts for protection, etc as needed, or not?

    Nullification leads to the freedom of political association, based on voluntary association and therefore,

    In summary one nation, 50 States or 500+ city-states/phyles. Here, here to Freedom West (Rockies) and The NH Freedom efforts!

    Thanks for listening

  • Tim

    Generally speaking, law school is the worst place to learn about “Con Law.” It usually consists of memorizing judicial precendents which are for the most part legal sophistry intended to justify one transgression after another against Original Meaning. After all the Court upheld the Sedition and Espionage acts of 1917 as well as FDR’s infamous EO to forcibly relocate Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Moreover, seeking redress from a FEDERAL body (US Supereme Court) in matter involving a dispute over the reach of FEDERAL power seem to me to involve a conflict of interest. In such dispute, is not a Supreme Court a party to it. In any event, why should “legal community” have monopoly on the interpreting the meaning and intent of the United States Constituiton? You don’t need three of law school understand the Constitution. Indeed, you’d be well advised to avoid law school if that was your goal. Good article!!

  • Brimstone

    Publius Huldah, a constitutional expert on the original
    intent of the Constitution, shows us how Thomas Jefferson would handle


  • EdD

    “Most articles these day are spent telling us some one is wrong or they
    did some stupid idea, in fact it is over and over and over.”

    Please don’t try to tell us that this makes sense, even to you.

    “Its proper in english to ask questions about the specific confusions, if
    all say the whole idea is out of his mind what does this say about you
    and all those who conform to this type of thinking?”


    ” Now, if all have decided I am a cook and I have not one thing to say,
    decision is cause and no listening nor respect will be shared.
    Understand now?”

    I’m a cook, but I still don’t understand what you’re saying. Cooking is a skill which doesn’t disqualify one’s ideas on other subjects.

    A refusal to address oneself in plain English does tend to cause a failure in communication. with other English speakers… Maybe you should be more careful with your use of our common language.

  • Anonymous

    Makes me a bit sad to read that this misguided group comes from my home state. I’ll be sure to post this Smackdown to their facebook. Thanks Tom.

  • JungianINTP

    The history of Leftism is to secretly infiltate then steer conservative organizations toward Left-oriented outcomes. // Read/Study “Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists.” // Examine the history of the tribal neocons (( aka TROTSKYITES )) who had infiltrated conservative organizations and created “conservative” publications from the early Fifties forward (( Bill Buckley got his start-up funds for National Review by agreeing to demean/extricate the anti-communist John Birch Society from Rightists’/Traditionalists’ restoration movement breaking out across America [ Goldwater et al. ] in the Fifties, to oppose leftists’ BEATNIK movement and growing Commie influence here )) . // No doubt, neocons have been focused on infiltrating/controlling Tea Party groups, such as the WGL, offering a great distraction for Messr. Woods and others, who wound better serve by exposing neocon Trotskyites’ machinations. // For examle, track down and name the architects of hate-crimes legislation here and across the Pond. // As for the SCOTUS’ ever-growing missteps, always keep these in mind:

    “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making [by Supreme Court Justices or by Presidential Signing Orders] or [by any] legislation which would abrogate them” -Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 463p. 491.

    “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” -Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Craneh) 137. 174. 176. (1803).

    “A unconstitutional law is not law [but tyrannical law]; it confers no rights; imposes no duties; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” -Norton vs. Shelby County, 118 US 425p. 442.

    What we’ve suffered from Lincoln forward is a near-complete refutation of the idea “rule by law not by whim,” which refutation is best championed by leftists’ evil idea of a living, breathing Constitution. If a law “lives and breaths”, it is not law but deadly rule by man—by whimsy!; ergo, nullification is necessary whenever rule by whim has been made law.

    Lastly, if you don’t understand the underlying psychology of politics, you’re fighting blind against an enemy you don’t understand. Study my two large, scribble-on-the-fly posts at the bottom of this page: http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/contact/#comment-2690 (( user name, “JungianINTP” ))

  • AmericansRon2U

    I suggest you check out the law school at Liberty University. It’s a Christian university (Matthew Stavers is the founder) and they teach the true Constitutional law…unlike the secular schools. It’s the only law school I would consider attending if you truly want to be one of the “good guys”, Don.

  • http://twitter.com/JSnyd05 Josh Snyder

    Is it just me, or is anyone else tired of the incessant abbreviations of The Supreme Court of the US into SCOTUS? It drives me nuts. Additionally, in quoting Mark Twain, it sounds like the WGL has a Corn-Pone Opinion problem.

  • Eric

    Robert, I wonder if you know any US law schools that are exception to this rule?

  • Dan

    There are many successful nullification stories. Tell them to come to California and see how thoroughly the prohibition against marijuana has been nullified. Tell them to check out Oregon or Washington. I don’t see tanks rolling down the streets stopping these nullifications of federal law.

  • Anonymous

    I like the Chinatown reference! :)

  • Anonymous

    Oh Yeah!!! GREAT example! (not sarcasm)

  • Davis Hipps

    I think the point they’re trying to make may be summed up as follows: “we should nullify the law without using the word ‘nullification,’ lest we be branded ‘kooks, crackpots, malcontents, and… radical extremists.’”

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcus.antonius.50596 Marcus Antonius


  • http://www.facebook.com/marcus.antonius.50596 Marcus Antonius

    It must be observed that the basic philosophy is not being discussed. When that is decided, then the discussion becomes plain and simple. Both the Republicans, supported by the Conservatives and the Religious Right, and the Democrats, supported by the Socialists, and the non religious Communists/Fascsts what have you, are pandering the same chatter. What they pander is Subjective Mysticism.
    Some, but not all of the Libertarians and the Objectivists, support Objective reason.
    Plain and simply. You either decide to live within Subjective unconsciuousness or Objective Consciousness.
    There are no other options.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcus.antonius.50596 Marcus Antonius

    Very good answer. Tell the whole Elite Ruling Criminal Class in Washington to stick it!
    Death to Tyrants !

  • chase

    Come on guys, give william schooler his due. we all need a good laugh sometimes. I, for one, want him to continue to post more, just for giggles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Schooler/100003032488972 William Schooler

    I am so glad I am not like you, and it if funny so many people understand me but the conforming, LOL too much training folks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Schooler/100003032488972 William Schooler

    Whose dilemma is it? LOL you are cracking me up.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VUUCFFE4VG7TS6BTMEJZ7QUHJU goodwater

    Don’t overlook Hillsdale.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Day/100000131629417 George Day

    Let me guess WGL is one of those Koch affiliated “tea” groups which exist to co-opt the Liberty message

  • Brimstone

    Does the SC have to obey the Constitution or does the Constitution change every time 5 people say it does? Just think about it. This Rule of Law everyone talks about is when everyone obeys the Constitution otherwise you have Rule by man.

  • Aquila

    Dr. Woods, Not sure if you are aware, but WGL has responded to you on their website. They claim they had a long talk with you sometime ago when you spoke in Eau Claire, and you were unable to tell them how or when nullifcation was used successfully in American history. They also said you were a lawyer. Is that even true?

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    My book has a whole chapter on how nullification (or the threat thereof) was used with some success. And of course I am not a lawyer.

  • Jim Chambers

    I agree. Just because a judge says the sky is green doesn’t make it so. Judges at times have their own agendas that may influence their decisions. Additionally, several judges that I have had personal contact and friendships with have been confirmed alcoholics who I would not let watch my dog.
    It is my opinion, however, that for nullification to work most of the citizens affected must be of the same mind. Without consensus I see disaster and disaster it will be if we act like herded cats and each go our own way. By saying that I am not advocating suppression of descent but once this is all hashed out we must present a united front against the oppressive government we find ourselves saddled with.
    Just saying.

  • Jim Chambers

    But we keep sending them back to ‘represent us’. In order to send a message we have to vote for ‘the other guy’ because when we send the same people to Washington DC they seem to become princes.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the suggestion!

  • Aquila

    I did not think you were a lawyer. As soon as I finish “How Capitalism saved America” I will begin “Nullification”
    Thanks for all your work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-P-Delaney/1405268840 James P. Delaney

    Well done, Tom.
    I too run across bone-headed Republicans who espouse the mindless WGL world view. And when I try to point out the error in their thinking on the subject of nullification, they look at me as though I’ve heedlessly sworn in front of their virgin-eared children. Amazing.
    The Progressives’ dumbing down of the electorate has been a spectacular success on all fronts. Our corrupted educational system has justified all manner of historical revisionism and destructive notions of big government supremacy.

    On the subject of nullification, I would go one step further. Nullification/interposition, a reserved and unalienable right of the States/People in this voluntary compact, also necessarily implies the rightful defensive act of secession should the overweaning feds persist. It’s called survival in the face of tyranny. The founders would not have seen it any differently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Maloney/100002346762606 Joseph Maloney

    The Constitution, and the Republic have been rendered irrelevent. There are no longer any checks and balances, all three braches have taken the power to tax the people. There has been no budget out of Washington in the entire first term of President Obama, and none likely in his second term either. Continuing resolutions, stop-gap measures, executive orders, quantative easings, and an never ending rise in the nation’s debt ceiling are a government out of control. Declaration of Independence, second paragraph: ‘That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consentof the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such forms, as to them most likely to effect safety, happiness, and prudence.’ Something Washington, Main Stream Media, and the majority of voters do not acknowledge.

  • Anonymous

    Do not forget the Right and DUTY of any jury to NULLIFY any law that they do not think applies, or that has been used wrongly, or that THE JURY believes the intent of the Constitution.
    It is the jury’s RIGHT AND DUTY.

  • G Trieste

    There is definitely a defect in the logic of the anti-nullification crowd.
    It is simply this:
    Irrespective of the supremacy clause and the fact that the federal govt is a creation of the states, the US Constitution was a compact, between the federal government and the sovereign states. As such within the terms of that agreement, both party(s) are considered to be equal in stature, and the terms are presumed to be held as written.
    When a dispute occurs as to those terms, and the obligations or rights inherent in those terms are in question, then it is supposed to be the US Supreme Court that decides and resolves the question.
    The problem is, the US Supreme Court is an agent of the federal government.
    It is *supposed* to be impartial, but if a state is challenging a federal claim to power, how can it fundamentally trust an institution that is a integral part of the party it is having the very same issue with.
    If I had an issue with someone, I certainly would not trust that party’s father to make an impartial decision in the matter.
    The problem may be intractable, but generally one must go to a neutral mediating court for resolution of such issues, or go to war.
    First thought that comes to my mind would be the Hague court, which would certainly be more neutral than either party, but that may not sit well with other here :-).

  • Anonymous

    The good news: attorneys like to argue. Have fun.

  • G Trieste

    You have to sacrifice your religious neutrality, to maintain your civil liberty neutrality?
    I think having that school on your resume would be far more of a burden than keeping true to your constitutional principles while withstanding the onslaught of statist education, but one that is still secular.

  • G Trieste

    Exactly what I said, but in a different way.
    The core point here is what you point out, it is a conflict of interest for the USCOTUS to rule on a question of superior reservation of powers, of a state vs the federal governement.
    On other things not so fundamental, perhaps, but not something that affects the DNA of what the constitution is supposed to reserve as inviolate.

  • G Trieste

    I would say no.
    Because the states were formed as sovereign states, as was the federal govt.
    The counties, cities, etc, within a sovereign does not have presumptive claim to sovereignty.
    Anything of course can be done given enough political willpower and popular sentiment, but legally it is different.

  • G Trieste

    SCOTUS does sound vaguely pornographic . . .

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