Nullification-Missouri Style


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

The Show Me state, has been making news lately.  Unfortunately, the news it has been making has nothing to do with the St. Louis Arch or the baseball Cardinals, but its legislature’s penchant for attempting to nullify Federal laws that it does not agree with.  The State of Missouri is working hard to nullify Federal gun laws and Obamacare.

“If you ever wondered what a 21st century nullification crisis would look like, look no further than Missouri. One hundred and forty eight years after the end of the Civil War, the New York Times reports, “the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature is expected to enact a statute next month nullifying all federal gun laws in the state and making it a crime for federal agents to enforce them.” Meanwhile, the Show Me State is doing everything it can to effectively block implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” Daily Kos

I guess Missouri wants to Show the rest of the nation that the Constitution and its Supremacy Clause is not worth the parchment it is written on.  In case you are not sure what is meant when a State tries to nullify a Federal law, here is a little primer on the subject.

‘ “Nullification was a 19th century theory, identified most closely with South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, based on the notion that the states created the Constitution and retained the power to determine whether the federal government complied with limitations on its power. This theory has been universally rejected throughout the course of American history by the courts as inconsistent with the Constitution. As the Constitution’s preamble makes clear, ‘We the People,’ not the states, ‘ordain[ed] and establish[ed] th[e] Constitution.’

“The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause provides that federal law is the ‘supreme Law of the Land,’ and Article III of the Constitution gives to the federal judiciary the power to decide “all cases arising under the Constitution.’ States, thus, cannot simply declare that the acts of the federal government are null and void. But, despite the rock-solid arguments against nullification, state governments continue to press the idea that they have the power to treat certain federal laws as null and void. These arguments, while not new, have no basis in the Constitution.” ‘  Maddowblog

What would make the Missouri state legislature think that they had the power to declare acts of the Federal government null and void, when as suggested by the David Gans quote in Maddowblog, the legal arguments against nullification are “rock solid”?  Could politics be at work here?  Is it a coincidence that the nullification “movement” has come to popularity since President Obama took office?

I wish I could say that the nullification attempts are restricted to Missouri.  However, the states of Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and Arizona have all been involved in attempting to nullify Federal laws.  In Missouri, the legislature is attempting to make it a crime for any Federal law enforcement officer to enforce Federal gun laws.

‘ “Like Texas, Mississippi, Arizona and a host of other states, Missouri is seemingly turning to the Confederate Constitution as the law of the land. Hoping to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto, Missouri Republicans are aiming at the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause:

Richard G. Callahan, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, is concerned. He cited a recent joint operation of federal, state and local law enforcement officials that led to 159 arrests and the seizing of 267 weapons, and noted that the measure “would have outlawed such operations, and would have made criminals out of the law enforcement officers.”

And not just criminals. As the Times explained, “A Missourian arrested under federal firearm statutes would even be able to sue the arresting officer.” ‘  Daily Kos 

The State of Missouri is attempting to turn the Constitution on its head and at the same time, criminalize the actions of sworn Federal law enforcement officers who are just doing their duty.  I wonder if the citizens of Missouri understand how much money it will spend defending its actions when the Federal government sues the State of Missouri if their nullification plans come to fruition?

The State of Missouri is also trying its darndest to prevent the Affordable Care Act from being implemented in its state.  It is even ordering state officials to not do anything to aid in its implementation.  According to the Daily Kos article linked above, the Missouri State legislature is attempting a “de facto” nullification of Obamacare.

‘ “Along with Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, Missouri is refusing to enforce the ACA’s new insurance reforms and prohibitions, such as refusing to cover those with pre-existing conditions, using “rescission” to drop coverage for those who become sick, discriminating against women and setting annual or lifetime benefits caps. And while Colorado, California, Oregon and other blue states are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund thousands of customer service “navigators,” in Missouri “local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place.” ‘  Daily Kos

Whether the dispute is about gun laws or health care, it seems that Missouri is showing the country that it won’t sit by and watch its citizens get protected by Federal gun laws or Health care systems.  At what point do the hundreds of thousands of Missouri citizens who need health care actually factor into the state legislatures nullification attempts?

When any state has a legitimate beef against a Federal law or policy, it can use the courts to sort out those issues.  However, when the state legislature is relying on a 19th century theory that has been universally rejected by the courts, is that legislature actually working on behalf of its citizens?  Or is it working on behalf of political or corporate interests?  What do you think?

94 thoughts on “Nullification-Missouri Style”

  1. It seems to me that seen the Civil War, both States and Individual rights have suffered. Today, there are but a few rights left to protect. Right to travel – gone, Right to work – gone. Most property rights – gone. States Rights – pretty much gone.

    1. hskiprob wrote: “Today, there are but a few rights left to protect.”

      Skip, you might consider that the rights still exist, but the government is constantly trampling all over them. The government has become the criminal.

      1. David, you’re correct, that is the proper way to look at it. It’s just like gold and silver. It’ not the gold and silver that is going up and down in value, it the value of the US Dollar that is so volatile. A friend of mine constantly states that with fiat paper currencies, it like dropping them off the Empire State Building and seeing which one falls the fastest.

  2. I/they, those leaders, swear to protect & defend the constitution against Foreign & Domestic Enemies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What is it that they, those illegal criminals/economic victims/refugees of Wallst crooked banks/insur co’s should be demanding & defending for themselves & their families from?

    Some might feel their efforts at nullification are more justified then others:

    ** Legislature OK’s driver’s licenses for immigrants

    12 minutes ago

    Associated Press

    (AP:SACRAMENTO, Calif.) After years of setbacks, Democratic lawmakers and Latino activists are on the verge of seeing immigrants who are in the country illegally granted the right to a driver’s license in California.

    The state Assembly approved the bill on a 55-19 vote late Thursday, hours after the Senate passed it on a 28-8 vote. Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement indicating he would sign it into law, which would make California the 10th state to allow immigrants to apply for licenses.

    “This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” the Democratic governor said in his statement, issued immediately after the Assembly vote. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”

    The approval on the final day of this year’s legislative session was a surprise.

    The author of AB60, Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville, was prepared to put his legislation on hold until next year because of opposition from immigrant-right groups. They had objected to a provision that calls for the licenses to be given a special designation, fearing the different look could lead to discrimination.

    The legislation was revived after lawmakers persuaded some of the activists to drop their objections.

    Alejo was elated as he presented the bill on the Assembly floor.

    “This is a very historic night for all immigrant communities,” he said, as a crowd of Latino senators and Assembly members gathered behind him. They hugged and cheered when the measure sailed through on the final vote.

    “We have had far too many families who have been divided, far too many workers who have been deported, for not having something so basic, so simple, as a driver’s license,” Alejo said.

    Several other attempts had passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by previous governors. Alejo said the author of most of those, former state lawmaker Gil Cedillo, had asked him to continue pushing the issue.

    The bill could allow some 2 million people in California to drive legally by allowing immigrants with proper identification to apply for a license.

    In the Assembly, Republican lawmakers who opposed the bill said granting a license with special markings to undocumented Californians would put employers and landlords in a conflict between complying with state and federal laws.

    Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, pointed to the card’s notice, which will state that it is only an ID for driving and that it does not establish eligibility for employment, voting or seeking public benefits.

    “In essence, it puts a big flag on the card that this is not for a person that is in this country legally,” Harkey said. “So I kind of question the purpose of the bill.”

    Supporters said California’s roads would be safer because immigrants would have to pass the written and driving tests, and would be eligible to buy insurance. The insurance industry and the California Police Chiefs Association supported the bill, Alejo said.

    Before 1993, citizenship was not a requirement for holding a license.

    Latino lawmakers in the Senate rallied on the Legislature’s final day to revive the bill, saying that legally licensing people to drive was more important than concerns over what the licenses would look like.

    “AB60 is not perfect, but it moves our state in the right direction,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who is chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus. “The alternative is a status quo system that continues to penalize hardworking families with tickets, court fees and car impoundments. These families deserve better.”

  3. Bob,

    Infowars has it’s flaws like we all do, but they are a good enough source for me.

    Now if they were to get to far off track & didn’t attempt to correct their errors I’d be reconsidering using their material/other sources.

    If you post sources I would attempt to view/consider them even if we didn’t agree on ever issue.

  4. OS,

    Nixon, that’s an excellent case to bring up on this topic of nullification.

    Our govt now public admits Gulf of Tonken was a false flag & the whole Veitnam war was a fraud against the USA citzens/world pop.

    Both Johnson & Nixon both should have been brought up on war crimes/crimes against humanity charges.

    But there was at least enough of a funtioning govt left at that time to basiclly work a plea deal with Nixon.

    I’m not sure today we even have that much of govt left to bring us back to some of the founding principles of rule of law, not rule of man, personal freedom & liberty.

    I feel many currently on the Supreme Court have lost all credibility.

    ie: John Roberts/Obamacare that’s current running the US economy off the cliff. ( My daughter actually believes it’s better/cheaper.) LOL 🙂

    And yes there are many laws/regs that I believe are unconstitutional.

    I peacefully battle against them as hard as I can & encourage others to do the same.

    Yet as an example I file IRS tax forms every years even though I know that agency is unconstitutional on many levels.

    I don’t know any of the principles involved in the Missouri nullification movement or their legal strategy to defend it.

    I’d like to know & I was hoping they’d pass it so we could all hear their arguments.

    For decades I’d hear everyone complain about govt policies & then they’d turn around & say: Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it.

    I reject their reasoning.

    And even though the Missouri effort has failed for the moment there are other laws/regs the state can take like place restrictions on state/local govt employees ability to cooperate with govt agencies.

    I think for decades in Nevada it’s been illegal for state employees to cooperate with IRS dealing with individuals/corporations tax issues concerning the IRS.

    That’s what I’ve heard, but I haven’t read their laws.

    The faster us citizens can find common ground the less painful this current political transition will be for all concerned.

  5. Oky1,

    You destroy any vestige of your credibility, when you source Alex Jones and Infowars.

    These sources “deliberately mislead,” to use a kind euphemism.

  6. Oky1,
    If there is anarchy, it is illegal no matter who does it. Scofflaws risk running afoul of the law, and as we saw in cases such as John Mitchell, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, the law can reach those in the highest positions if the will to prosecute is there. Nixon would most likely have been tried and convicted if Gerald Ford had not given him a blanket pardon within minutes of being sworn in.

  7. **When individuals decide a law is bad and deliberately violate it in protest, they must be prepared to face the consequences as Dr. King did. If every person decided they would only obey those laws with which they agree, we would have anarchy. We do not want this country to become Somalia West. **


    I agree with different pieces of your arguments but not all of them.

    I will take the time to point out to you that currently, right here in the USA, because govt political policies we already have anarchy & it’s growing everyday until we can get it stopped.

    So who are the leaders you support?

    All of us that are concerned have the common problem of how do we stop this growing tyranny & who are leaders we can have some trust in.

    In this clip of a Alex Jones rant, I didn’t care much for his throwing god/religion at the end, but in most of it he’s spot on.

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