I’ve Got Georgia on My Mind

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

With apologies to the famous song of the same title, the State of Georgia has produced some interesting legislation and proposed legislation these days.  The latest in that long list of specious legislation is the proposal pushed by five Georgia State Senators that would set up a commission to review Federal laws.  Any laws not approved by that commission would be nullified and would not be upheld in their state.  If I understand the proposed legislation correctly, the State of Georgia, if this law is passed, would claim supremacy over Federal law. I realize that in some Tea Party view of the Constitution this makes sense, but not in the real world where the Constitution and court precedent makes it very clear that Federal law supersedes any and all conflicting State laws.

“The Constitution provides that acts of Congress “shall be the supreme law of the land” which is why states do not have the power to ignore federal law. Nevertheless, five Georgia state senators — including Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R) and senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R) — apparently do not believe that the Constitution applies to them. All five lawmakers introduced a wildly unconstitutional plan to have Georgia and its citizens simply ignore laws that its conservative leadership doesn’t want to follow:

(1) There is created the Joint Commission on Recommendation, which shall be charged with recommending and proposing for a vote by a constitutional majority the nullification in its entirety of a specific federal law or regulation which is deemed to be outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution or at odds with the Georgia Constitution . . .

(4) Upon recommendation for nullification, the General Assembly may vote to nullify following such recommendation. The appropriate documentation reflecting the vote shall be documented in legislative journals of the House and Senate. In the event the General Assembly votes by a constitutional majority to nullify any federal statute, mandate, or executive order on the grounds of constitutionality, neither the state nor its citizens shall recognize or be obligated to live under such statute, mandate, or executive order.”  Truthout

Our friends in Georgia are taking the same path as Gov. Rick Perry chose in Texas when he pushed through a bill that would nullify a Federal law concerning light bulbs.  Light Bulb  It is amazing to me that in the year 2012, we are even having this discussion.  The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, Article 6, Clause 2, makes it very clear that Federal law is the “law of the land”.

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” U.S. Constitution  The Supreme Court has upheld and confirmed the supremacy of Federal law over conflicting State legislation. But this idea of States nullifying Federal legislation continues to fester.

I question whether these State attempts to nullify Federal law is actually an attempt to discredit the current administration in the eyes of the supporters of these State officials rather than an effort to stop what they consider to be unjust laws. Are politics involved in these decisions to attempt to nullify Federal law?

Are these Georgia legislators trying to re-fight the Civil War with these claims of States superiority over Federal law?  Are these nullification efforts related to the Tenther movement?  Even our old friend, Ron Paul has come out as a supporter of this alleged power of States nullification of Federal law.  Ron Paul   Does it surprise you that a sitting U.S. Congressman would have these views?

Finally, while the attempts by States to nullify Federal laws isn’t new, the calls for nullification seem to have increased since President Obama came into office.  Will the nullification movement die out if Obama is not re-elected?  Let’s hear what you think!

Additional Sources:


James Madison letter to Edward Everett

Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council

Cooper v. Aaron

219 thoughts on “I’ve Got Georgia on My Mind”

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  2. Jay S.
    Let’s hope Sherman stays home. And people power, not states power is employed. Or would you unleash drones and WMD on us?

    We lost few compared to Vietnam, but the Iraqis lost millions, and Robert Baer’s book reveals the Shia oil minister was pumping oil in millions of barrels a day via Iran from the first cabinet days.

    We are misinformed about so much. Or do you see the Shermans as a solution? Such thinking leads to violent solutions between individuals here
    Of course, violent programs are poor models for teaching children conflict solving——there many countries lead—–but not in murders by gun by children.

  3. Answer to a Mike Spindell question of more than a day ago – when did people learn about Marbury vs Madison? In my case it wasn’t in 7th grade. Or 8th grade. But maybe high school, or else in college. I remember particularly the text ‘Growth of the American Republic’ by Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager.

    And as for Georgia trying to assert supremacy over the US Supreme Court, where is William Tecumseh Sherman when you need him? Are we going to have to do this all over again?

  4. My post on NYTimes re school killing:


    Everybody seems to have the script clear and practiced. The police press thingy, the church prayer meeting, the governor asking us to join him in prayers……
    A friend with knowledge of mainstream religion says panic is spreading in the top because of membership and money loss. Witness the surging bishops and GOP holy vows as a counteraction. The separation of church and state is supposed to work both ways others point out.

    Sad to see my country again sorrowing its romance with violent solutions to conflicts.

    PS If you can nullfy reality, then why not a constitution?
    Same thing, in some peoples’ minds. The Bible/Koran et al are on paper (originally) and reality is so indestructible. Models for framing society and for understanding natural forces are poor substitutes for ruling over either.
    I said that. Nobel nominations thankfully acknowledged.

  5. rafflaw 1, February 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Yes it did! Four dead in Ohio.

    Tragically, next time — and there will undoubtedly be a next time — it will be many more than four…

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