Empowering States Rights and Sovereignty

Posted By on March 23, 2010

For over two hundred years a Constitutional principle has lain dormant, hidden away in the vaults of time, misrepresented, misunderstood and for all intents and purposes “dead” to the American political and governmental system. Today, more than ever before, we are faced with encroachments of a highly radicalized Federal Government which mandate dusting off the pages of history, going back in time and breathing life into an essential principle of truly Constitution government. Confronted by congressmen and women, senators and presidents – yes, I said presidents, plural – who have little or nor regard for the Constitution they swore to support, defend and uphold, the States and the people are in need of and crying out for protection from the Federal Government.

This is not a call for secession, dissolution of the union, or even a new constitutional convention. It is merely a call for the reestablishment of a principle discussed in 1787, which was a keystone in the debates for ratification in 1788 and a requirement in the passage of the Bill of Rights. This principle was once considered essential in the early debates regarding states rights, the construction of the union and the writing of the Constitution. It was a bulwark for the view of the states position as the primary defender of individual rights, thus placing the state between the citizen and the Federal Government. It was this principle which provided the impetus behind the anti-federalist’s arguments and positions with the resultant Bill of Rights.

For too long we have viewed the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, from within the bubble of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. By saying this I admit my own failing, as well. This is a false and incomplete context. The Convention only provided us with the body of the Constitution through Article VII. What followed was a long and arduous debate towards ratification. Ratification was never assured, and often it was in question. The debates discussed further limitations to the federal, constitutional system and written guarantees of individual liberties and inalienable rights, but states rights and sovereignty were of primary importance in these debates. While the federalists and The Federalist (a collection of essays by Madison, Hamilton and Jay) drove the arguments for the Constitution as written, it was the anti-federalists who compelled the debate and mandated additional amendments to further limit and restrict the Federal Government as delineated within the body of the constitutional text. Thus, the Constitution as ratified and amended by the Bill of Rights (Amendments One through Ten) is the result of the efforts, and foresight of both groups.

So, have you ever wondered how the Tenth Amendment could ever be practiced or enforced? It is only by using the principle I have been alluding to, Nullification. Nullification provides the states with the strength, power and authority to ensure the Tenth Amendment, and by extension the Ninth. Simply, Nullification is the power of the states to veto any legislative act, Executive Order, etc. from the Federal Government which it – a state, or they – multiple states deem unconstitutional, or an illegal encroachment of the Federal Government.

There will be those who will assert Nullification does not exist within the Constitution, and they would be only partially correct. “Federalism,” “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” are also missing from the text, yet no one would dare question these principles as constitutional. “Why?” Simply because we see these latter ones mentioned in the debates and writings about the Constitution from that period. The same is true of Nullification, even though it has long been ignored and even censored from our understandings.

Nathaniel Ames of Massachusetts stated:

The state governments represent the wishes and feelings of the people. They are the safeguards and ornament of our liberties…they will afford a shelter against the abuse of power, and will be the natural avengers of our violated rights. (Emphases added)

Or how about this from the “Federal Farmer”?

In this case the respective state governments must be the principal guardians of the peoples [sic] rights, and exclusively regulate the internal police; in them must rest the balance of government. (Emphases added) (“Federal Farmer” #1 in Kaminski, ed., Doc. History, 24.)

As you can see, states rights and states sovereignty were intended, in part, to act as a buffer between “the Feds” and the people. The power of this was supposed to be the Tenth amendment and Nullification.

It is very interesting to note that during the discussions surrounding the establishment of a federal bank in 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in which he, Jefferson, expressed an opinion that any representative, or senator who voted for such a flagrant usurpation of power by the Federal Government should be charged with treason by their home state. Maybe we should investigate this today on the many issues being voted upon in Washington; Cap and Trade, Healthcare Reform, etc.

It has only been through the abandonment of Nullification and the subsequent erosion of states rights and sovereignty which have allowed the Federal Government to grow far beyond its constitutional limits and restrictions. There has been no counter check or balance to the Federal Government by the States. State politicians have yielded to the power and prestige of the Federal Government while succumbing to the influence of lobbyists, and the desire to retain their power base. These state politicians often look to federal positions, and quite simply don’t want to “rock the boat.” As a result, in the past, no state has took a stand for what is right, at least not since the Civil War.

Nullification can be accomplished without secession or any other seditious acts. It will raise the ire of the Federal Government, but isn’t it time to take it down a couple of notches? I challenge each of us to further investigate Nullification and discuss it in the near future.

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4 Responses to “Empowering States Rights and Sovereignty”

  1. Bobbie says:


    I truly enjoyed this blog. May I use the one on States Rights on another blog spot..if I give your name and the link to this site?


  2. Bobbie says:

    From Nulilfication Now.
    What Do We Do About It?

    Did you know that states don’t have to obey unconstitutional federal legislation forced upon them?

    Virginia, Utah, Idaho, and other states are fighting the federal healthcare law. Arizona is protecting its borders. Washington State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee are fighting cap-and-trade legislation. Eight states are standing up for gun rights. Twenty-five states have effectively blocked the 2005 Real ID Act…

    How? Through nullification.

    When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as that state is concerned.

    Nullify Now! is a multi-city event tour focused on education and activism on a state level to say NO to unconstitutional federal “laws” – which, in reality, are not laws at all.

    World-class speakers like Thomas E. Woods will be on hand to explain just what nullification is, and how it works – both in history and right now.

    Woods, who is the NY Times Best-selling author of Meltdown and The Politically-Incorrect Guide to American History, has his latest book on sale now. In Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21 Century, he explains:

    * How we can roll back Obamacare, cap and trade, and other unconstitutional expansions of federal power through nullification
    * Why the Founding Fathers believed that nullification was the “moderate middle ground,” not the road to secession
    * Why the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution gives the states the power to nullify unconstitutional laws
    * Why states – not the Supreme Court – should arbitrate disputes between the states and the federal government over the constitutionality of the federal government’s actions.

    Other speakers in various locations include Jack Hunter of the American Conservative Magazine, and Jim Babka, president of DownsizeDC.

    As Thomas Jefferson said, there is a “rightful remedy” to the federal government’s uncontrollable quest for power – it’s called Nullification


    Speakers and Event Dates:

    Sept 4th, Ft. Worth, TX
    New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Woods talks about his new book, Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century.

    10-10-10, Celebrate the 10th Amendment in Orlando!
    New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Woods talks about his new book, Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century. Also speaking will be Jim Babka of DownsizeDC and 10 other local and national guests.

    October 23rd in Chattanooga, TN
    Jack Hunter, columnist for the Charleston City Paper, “The Southern Avenger” personality for WTMA 1250 AM talk radio, and contributing editor to Taki’s Magazine and The American Conservative, joins us to discuss how nullification can be applied on issues across the spectrum. 10 other local and national speakers will be on hand as well.

  3. Bobbie says:

    As stated above..that is OUR Jack Hunter in Chattanooga!

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