State Nullification

State nullification is the action of a state which refuses the administration of a national law. Such action of defiance occurs in the state legislature.

Like jury nullification, state nullification is an American method of resistance against national tyranny. Nullification is an essential defense mechanism for a free people. It is a form of organized civil disobedience.

In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson insisted that states use nullification to defend themselves against unconstitutional exercises of power by the national government. Jefferson feared that a national government that defined the scope of its own powers, would be constantly discovering new ones. Likewise, James Madison wrote in the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 that the states were “duty bound to resist” when the national government violated the Constitution.

State nullification has been used throughout early American history: in Virginia and Kentucky on behalf of free speech, in New England against unconstitutional searches and seizures, in various Northern states against fugitive slave laws. Sixty years after the Kentucky Resolutions, the Wisconsin legislature quoted them in its defense against national law.

Recently there was a movement in many states to oppose the national REAL ID Act, an unfunded mandate turning state issued drivers licenses into global ID cards with biometric data tracking capabilities. Two dozen states have already pledged to defy the law.

Opposition to ObamaCare has also been widespread as many state are considering various nullification methods.

Holding rallies, writing letters to the newspaper, and other forms of petitioning are proven insufficient in dealing with national tyranny. Hayek explains the failure in Road to Serfdom.

It is necessary to withdraw consent. Individuals and states must say “we are not going to do it” and act accordingly.  The adoption of nullification, by both states and jurors, combats tyranny effectively.