BOISE, Idaho — After leading the nation last year in passing a law to sue the federal government over the health care overhaul, Idaho’s Republican-dominated Legislature now plans to use an obscure 18th century doctrine to declare President Barack Obama’s signature bill null and void.
Lawmakers in six other states — Maine, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming — are also mulling “nullification” bills, which contend states, not the U.S. Supreme Court, are the ultimate arbiter of when Congress and the president run amok.
This country and school children everywhere are going to be shown a historic lesson about state’s rights. The number of states that have law suits before the Supreme Court is stunning in number. What is interesting is the number that are taking short-cuts and are depending on their own state legislatures
When the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which provide a classic statement in support of states’ rights. According to this theory, the federal Union is a voluntary association of states, and if the central government goes too far each state has the right to nullify that law. As Jefferson said in the Kentucky Resolutions:
Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: That to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party….each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.