Nullification — Right Time, Right Now

This is the text of the testimony I will be giving at the Committee hearing on Wednesday May 5, concerning SJR10-1045.

You all know the litany of ills coming out of Washington, DC these days and piling-in on top of the states:

HealthCare, Gun control, Energy and Air Quality laws and regulation, Endangered Species and environmental control, Food and Drug regulations, Real Estate, Financial and banking regulation, the list is simply endless…

The states, for their part, have been either caving-in to the Feds on each of these issues successively or attempting to fight stop-gap individual measures through the Federal Courts; almost wholly to no avail. The goose-step march to nationalistic submission by the states continues apace.

However, there is one tool left to the states where the Feds can be stopped dead in their tracks: Nullification. SJR-1045, in front of the Committee today represents the first step in the process that should be embraced by both parties and all state legislators. That is, if they care about Colorado at all and the sovereignty of the citizens and our state.

A vote for SJR-1045 is a vote for the people of Colorado and our ability to control our own affairs and our own destiny as a state in a Union of states. A vote against the Resolution is a vote to further the nationalization of our government, our economy and our lives to a distant government that cares only about control, not about our Constitutions and rule of law. My great-grandfather fought in a Revolution to end such control by a distant government. Will we be forced to do that again?

Nullification has a long and important history in the United States in protecting the people and the states from tyranny, starting with the Resolves of 1798. Nullification is now the best historic and contemporary tool we have left to protect the Union of States against the encroaching nationalist state being imposed by the federal government.

One party’s officials may see SJR-1045 only as an attempt to thwart healthcare reform. They would be wrong. The other party’s officials would see a similar attempt to use Nullification to thwart the Feds control of Marijuana and other drugs in the state as an improper act. They would be wrong. Nullification is only about the state vs. the federal powers as delegated, regardless of the issue. The powers the federal government were not granted by the states is the only issue involved.  Everything else is disingenuous or fatuous propaganda and popular posturing.

Jefferson wrote about the Kentucky Resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Acts:

(W)here powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy:  Every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: that nevertheless, this commonwealth, from motives of regard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communicate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it…

And James Madison, on the Virginia Resolutions:

The resolutions, having taken this view of the Federal compact, proceed to infer that, in cases of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the States, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound to interpose to arrest the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them. …The Constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the States, given by each in its sovereign capacity. It adds to the stability and dignity, as well as to the authority of the Constitution, that it rests on this solid foundation. The States, then, being parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal above their authority to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and, consequently, as parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition…

While resort to the federal courts may be the only desperate path left to a state who’s legislature refuses to nullify, it is an impaired tool from the beginning. Who in this room realistically expects the state to win in a federal court? The federal court has no history of actually limiting federal power.  And why would it? It feels no bond to the states; their employer is the Federal government.

This legislature needs to get serious and soon about nullifying all of the Feds incursions into state powers of recent decades. It is not a left-right, Republican vs Democratic issue.  It is only a Colorado issue. Who and what do you care about?

This body needs to stop acting like the lapdog of the federal government when laws, regulations and programs that usurp state power and the people’s rights are handed down by the Feds. That has been true under both party’s control of this people’s house.

Interestingly, through out our history state Nullification has been used more by liberals than conservatives to arrest federal usurpations. You can stop those usurpations here. Vote yes on SJR-1045 today and we should hope to see many more similar Resolutions and actual Acts of Nullification in the next session. This is an enormous issue of historic significance. I ask the members of the Committee to think long and hard about this before you vote today and in the future:  Who and what do you care about??

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