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. For all those American Haters just stop & consider what would happen if you did away with the 2nd Amd..

    You would be hampering Darwin’s Theory, God or Mother Nature from cleansing the Gene Pool! 🙂

    Assuming the “Cougar” was 17 when see had the kid she’d be 28 now & without a Stud Muffin.

    And clearly the guy wasn’t smart enough to own a gun. I guess they should sue the govt for that because of the Rat Poison in the Water & the toxic vaccines?

    By Tina Terry


    An 11-year-old girl accidentally pulled the trigger of her stepfather’s gun, hitting and killing him, according to Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman.

    The accident happened Friday night on Lemmons Road. The sheriff said the stepfather, 19-year-old Bryan Scott Reno, had bought the gun Friday in Rutherford County and was showing it to the girl.

    “He was basically just looking at the firearm and telling his 11-year-old what he had purchased and actually handed her the gun to let her experience the new firearm,” said Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman.

    Norman said Reno had removed the gun’s clip, but a round was still in the chamber. The little girl pulled the trigger and fired a deadly shot at her stepdad.

    “Mother was in bed, was summoned by the 11-year-old. The mother actually placed a 911 call,” Norman said.

    Deputies said the girl needs prayer and support to face the days ahead.

    “She’s naturally extremely, extremely upset. There are going to be some trying days for her from last evening until only the Lord knows when,” Norman said. **

  2. “OK, change the Constitution. There’s an app for that.” As Gene Wilder said: It’s alive! No app required, only a judge.

  3. I also cannot see it being the case where every local and state officer goes out and hooks up ATF and other federal agents due to this state law. Maybe there might be one or two, but more than that I doubt and I even doubt the one or two.

    I know on TV cop shows, the source of most things politicians think they know about law enforcement, characters often get into turf wars between the city and the feds and there is animosity between the two. But that is not the case in the real world. It is almost always where a local agency is glad to have the feds come in and take over a case. Then it’s the feds issue and the locals don’t have to deal with it any more. Plus, the federal laws often bring more prison time and most cops like it when some problem hoodlum is taken out of their city and you don’t have to deal with him either.

  4. Oky1,

    OK, I’ll correct you. The states are not “Sovereign.” Your arguments go downhill from there.

    You’re welcome.


    OK, change the Constitution. There’s an app for that.

    The states which passed lenient marijuana laws did not advocate arresting federal officials who enforce federal law.
    The state legislators who passed marijuana laws were not dumbass redneck poseurs.
    The good ol’ boys ‘n’ gals in MO need to tell it to the National Guard. Mirth will ensue.
    The local sheriffs will say, “You want me to do WHAT?”

    No, really, I wanna see this.

  5. How is this different from those states which have recently chosen to make the recreational use of marijuana legal, which also is in opposition to federal law?

    Apart from the fact that the DoJ has recently declared that it will go along with such laws, at any rate…

  6. Hooray for Missouri! Has everyone forgotten that the constitution strictly limits the powers of the federal government, and leaves ALL but those strictly detailed powers to the STATES? Nowhere does the constitution grant the power to control healthcare to the federal government. And the SECOND AMENDMENT allows congress to make NO LAW infringing our right to keep and bear arms. And CONGRESS makes law, Not the executive branch. The entire constitution has been trampled in order to allow these attacks on our liberty!

  7. What happened to the idea that the Constitution is living? If it is living, picking up on the thrust of D. Smith’s comments, it is not unreasonable for some people to conclude that these changes are in order.

  8. Why is this a big deal? The Feds just announced that they will not prosecute certain crimes involving marijuana in the states that have effectively nullified federal law in that area. Given that it worked there, why shouldn’t the people of a state try it in other areas of law?

  9. Think about the current political dynamics of right now, today.

    This coming 2014 Spring, 6 months from now all around the nation political primaries will be holding votes for Sheriffs, Governors, State & Federal Reps.

    Currently many congressional district have been gerrymandered that they are either Democratic or Republican Strongholds in which it’s almost a certainty the Strongholds political party will win the seat.

    The only contest will likely be in the Primary, whomever wins the Spring primary wins the seat by default in the General election.

    Whatever policies/laws that are being pressed for/voted on by our Reps this Fall/Winter will be used by the public to decide how they will vote on new Reps come Spring.

    So what you are supporting now could help or hurt your long term political objectives longer term.

    Here in Oklahoma, because cross party voting isn’t allowed I’ll have to go down & once again re-register as a Republican if I wish to have any vote counted at all since Oklahoma is a Republican Stronghold.

    There are certain elements of the Repub Party that are so distasteful to me, (AKA Bush Family), that a fear I’ve long held is that I die before I can get back & re-register as an Independent after the electronic voting (S)election. 🙂

  10. ** I got in touch with David Gans, the director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center. Gans is also the former program director of Cardozo Law School’s Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy and a former NYU law professor.

    So, what’s nullification and why is the right re-litigating a discredited argument? **

    So far, so good. But what about measures like the one pending in Kansas?

    “Under the Commerce Clause, Congress has the power to enact nationwide gun laws. Kansas cannot limit the scope of these laws on the theory that the guns are only manufactured within state lines. **

    So there you have it, this Law School Tool falslye claims the Commerce Clause of the USC trumps then 2nd’s “Shall Not Infringe” Clause of the USC.

    In your dreams buddy, your position will continue to be defeated, give it up or remain out of favor with the knowing public & out of political Power!

    Even most Democratic Party members do not support his contortions of the USC.

    And Everyone now sees Obama is a Liar!

    ** Obama 2008: “I Am Not Going To Take Your Guns Away” **

    At some I hope some of you people will stop wasting my & millions of other’s Valuable time crawling through & re-chewing all these damn Fake Wedge Issues Crap.

    If you have any hopes at all at making political progress in this country you have to give into the truth of the times in which we live.

    Say you’re concerned about someone like Rand Paul winning the Prez in 2016.

    Start now by helping him pass into law everything he’s saying that you agree with & remove that issue from the table.

    You support the USC’s “Bill of Rights” don’t you?

    Well, help Sen Paul correct that issue & take the table now.

    You can still attack over the Koch Brothers type issues.

  11. I’m with Darren on this issue….

    Plus when you have the CIC and the Sct turning the constitution on its head… You gotta expect a reaction like this…..

  12. **voltaic 1, September 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Don’t forget the repressive, Jim Crow voting laws **

    At some point in time you people might wish to move beyond your personal Racism & realize the battle is between “A Republic form of a democratic gov’t” vs Caste System…a Dictatorship…a Monarchy with a Royal King/Queen sitting on a thrown.

  13. I meet this guy in person , Jason Rink is the Director and Producer of “Nullification: The Rightful Remedy”, maybe he was scared to death at the time of how his doc would be received by the public, don’t know, but regardless of his demeanor his doc have some points.

    Nullification The Rightful Remedy the Documentary

  14. Don’t forget the repressive, Jim Crow voting laws being enacted in North Carolina. And don’t be shocked to realize that there are still millions of right wing tin-hats who think Obama is a Muslim (1 in 6) not an American born in US (55% of GOP) and satanic (13% of voters). (It would get messy if I added links.)

    The GOP/Tea Party prefers only their tainted version of the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Any gun law is too much to bear, but if you want to curb free speech or freedom of the press, then go for it (Occupy).

    These attempts to ignore Federal laws shouldn’t be surprising. The GOP has the 21% solution working quite well. If only 40% of eligible voters cast a vote, then GOP wins with 21% of that vote. Their voters are more issue oriented and can be easily manipulated into voting against their best interests (What’s the Matter with Kansas).

    Those who were once considered fringe are now the party in power in many states. That tide won’t turn until more voters vote, but with Dancing with the Stars having more meaning to most Americans than voting, that change will not happen in the near term. Be prepared for more right wing lunacy. (Not that squeamish, conservative Democrats are more preferable. The two-party system is broken and needs repair)

  15. ** They believe that the bill would threaten public safety, cause legal problems for law enforcement offices and result in the loss of federal money. **

    Elaine M.,

    Are there no long any laws that the state can use, say like RICO, to protect the state’s/county’s interest from the Federal Govt’s bribery of State/County Officials or the Extortion of the same by their threats of withhold fed funds?

    Maybe Missouri counties need 115 Grand Juries to take a look at Federal Govt attempt to corrupt/bribe state/county officials?

    This is how one starts here in Oklahoma:

  16. I live in Missouri and I knew people like the ones in the video below. Some of them were in-laws. It’s Mississippi in the vid but once you get into some of the small towns in Missouri, as I have….

    A Republican candidate for the Missouri Legislator, Marsha Haefner, a sitting Representative, called last Wednesday or Thursday as part of a telephone town hall. Telephone town halls are just extended campaign ads IMO.

    I stayed on the line to see what would be said and she launched into a long introduction laying out the successes of the Legislature and her and the Republican majority’s plans for the next session. I stayed on the line until I was in danger of hyperventilating from the cultural dissonance. Our Legislature, and Ms Haefner is an adequate representative of the majority, is just plain nuts and as well, mean spirited.

    It really makes me angry that these nutters are going to squander what little money the state has with the need to argue some of their ‘reforms’ in court.

  17. Correct me if I’m wrong,

    but I believe there were no issues at all/or very few with the 2nd Amd or Fed gun laws until a case was brought against a thought to be criminal just up the road in this area, outside Claremore Oklahoma & he was charge with possession of a sawed off shotgun around 1930’s.

    The 1st 2nd Amd case.

    And Federal LE had very few troublesome issues from 1776 til the 1920-1930s when they started interfering into the Sovereign State’s, County Sheriff’s domain of LE.

  18. rafflaw,

    Missouri sheriffs, police chiefs, latest to oppose bill nullifying federal gun laws
    In Backroom
    By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter

    The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association has become the latest law enforcement group to announce its opposition to HB436, also known as the “gun nullification bill,” leading to what some sources say may be a surge in such announcements over the next few days.

    (Update) In fact, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association followed suit later Friday, saying that if Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill is overridden next week, the new law “will call in question Missouri law enforcement’s ability to work in cooperation with their federal counterparts and impede local law enforcement’s ability to enforce existing laws.” (End update)

    The sheriffs’ association – particularly influential in rural Missouri — announced early Friday that the bill “violates the sheriff’s oath of office.”

    The vote by the sheriffs’ board on Thursday was unanimous, said association executive director Mick Covington. The sheriffs’ association is made of all 115 sheriffs around the state.

    HB436, which would nullify all federal gun laws and bar their enforcement, was vetoed weeks ago. Until this week, the measure had appeared likely to be overriden when the General Assembly begins its veto session Wednesday.

    But since Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster – who is running for governor in 2016 – and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police have come out strongly against the bill. They believe that the bill would threaten public safety, cause legal problems for law enforcement offices and result in the loss of federal money.

  19. Maybe you can correct me?

    I believe the Federal Govt only has 18-19 explicit duties to perform.

    And none of those duties include harassing citizens over their “Rights” ,the 2nd included, or Health Care insurance.

    Yes, maybe your a kind person like many of us & wish to see the sick & injured cared for, but it is None of the Federal Govt’s Phk’in Business. 🙂

    Supremacy Clause, General Welfare Clause, Interstate Commerce Clause… when the courts illegally use those clauses as a means to grab Federal Authority that the Govt has no Right to, those judges need removed!

    In the article 2 other legal remedies for the People & the Sovereign States to use to correct their grevences, the 1st is a Constitutional Convention, which scares the he’ll out of me, & the 2nd the due process of Amending the US Constitution.

    An example of Amending the USC would Amd XXZ: Upon passing 9/8/2013 the Supreme Court of the USA is here by dissolved & from here after has no authority to decide Law…

  20. Larry the argument of “We the people” clause of the consitution is no longer based on reality. We the people no longer have any input into a corrupt political system that is gamed by those that can afford it.

Comments are closed.