Friday, July 9, 2010

Nullification Is Civil Disobedience

Nullification has long been thought of as a dead issue, but it has made a bit of comeback of late. The issue is whether states can nullify, or not enforce, federal laws they find to be unconstitutional. The constitutionality and morality of nullification seem like an important debate, but nullification is seen as ‘secession light’ and has become so tied up with the United States’ long history of racial oppression that the mere mention of nullification is likely to elicit charges of racism or sedition.


However, I find this to be a gross simplification of a general concept. As with people who think secession is an evil idea forever intertwined with slavery, while simultaneously having fully supported the rights of Eastern European countries to secede from the Soviet Union, examples are being used to define a theory. Furthermore, it is quite interesting that the same people who oppose nullification typically support civil disobedience, such as that practiced by Mohandas Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

The reason I find this interesting is that nullification and civil disobedience have similar intellectual foundation. After all, what is nullification other than an act of disobedience against what the state legislature finds to be an unjust law? And what is civil disobedience other than an act of disobedience by an individual against what he finds to be an unjust law? The hierarchy of government in the United States goes down from the federal level, to the state, then local governments and finally to individuals and non-governmental institutions. Any act of disobedience along the way should be seen as an act of political defiance.

Nullification and Civil Disobedience

1 comment:

  1. So I get to the end of this... thinking "Okay, what issue are we not enforcing here... drug legislation?" And it's heatlhcare...

    You also have a story about people running out of money... but you love the idea of healthcare as usual. You can't support the current healthcare system AND say that running out of money is bad. Over half of bankruptcies are a result of medical bills. We need healthcare reform, and we might actually be getting decent legislation if people had come to the table to debate it instead of those on the right simply crossing their arms and saying "No, all change is bad."

    Instead of bullshit opposition to everything, maybe you shouldn't perpetuate the right-wing line and maybe pull your head from your ass. We're in the situation we're in because one side doesn't even want to talk about the problems we have or how to solve them, so you put everything in the hands of Democrats... and we know how that turns out.


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