Think you understand state nullification (when a state nullifies a federal law it deems unconstitutional)?  Many Americans have heard and used the term, but, as Professor Rob Natelson explains, the issue is far more complex than it first appears:

“Does a state have the right to nullify federal statutes the state considers unconstitutional?  This depends largely on how you define ‘nullification.;  It also depends on what you mean by ‘right’ and what kind of document you understand the Constitution to be.  In other words, it depends on your premises.

“Unfortunately, people often discuss—and debate, and attack each other over—the merits or demerits of nullification without making their premises clear.  The result is much quarreling among people who are fundamentally on the same side.

“Historically, ‘nullification’ was defined quite narrowly.  It referred to a formal ordinance of a state legislature or state convention that declared a federal law void within the boundaries of the state.

“Today the term often is used in a much broader sense by advocates, by opponents, and often by the press.   So used, it refers as well to other mechanisms a state may deploy to assert its prerogatives against federal overreaching—that is, to other methods of what James Madison called ‘interposition.’”

You can read the full article here.

And don’t forget to tune in to hear Professor Natelson live on Thursday night!  He’ll discuss how a Convention of States will operate, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask him questions.  Sign up here.

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Jordan Sillars