While the whole world focuses on presidential politics for obvious reasons, state and local elections could not be more important. In fact, the future of your family and freedom may very well hinge in large part on who is elected to your state legislature and your city and county governments — especially if another would-be authoritarian ends up in the White House after 2024. State and local governments might eventually be the ones that determine whether you will be protected from rogue feds or forced to submit to tyranny. Pay close attention.
Consider a recent example of how this played out: Throughout the Covid pandemic, people across much of the United States (and the world) were locked in their houses, ordered to take experimental injections, and forced to put disgusting masks over their faces and those of their children, among other outrages. With federal guidance, local businesses and churches were shut down while mega-corporations and abortion clinics continued to operate with impunity. It was a constitutional atrocity of unprecedented proportions.
And yet, there were pockets of the country where none of that was the case. In fact, there were jurisdictions that actively fought back. In Florida, for instance, when the Biden administration and OSHA imposed a “vaccine” mandate on all employers with over 100 workers by threatening a fine, Florida lawmakers passed a law imposing far larger fines on companies that fired employees for refusing to take the jab. Vaccine passports and mask mandates were banned, too, instead of banning freedom as many state and local officials tried to do.
That is just a recent example. But state governments standing between citizens and federal lawlessness is not a new phenomenon. Actually, two of the most important Founding Fathers — Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the Father of the U.S. Constitution, respectively — both made the case that states must do precisely that when the federal government disobeys the very Constitution that created it.
In the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, written as a response to the unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Jefferson and Madison laid out the argument that states have not just a right but a duty to resist the feds when they go rogue and violate the Constitution. The doctrine of “nullification” or “interposition,” as it is known, is the “rightful remedy” to unconstitutional usurpations of power by the federal government, argued the two giants of American history in the resolutions.
Just a decade after creating the Constitution, Madison articulated this clearly. “In case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact [the Constitution], the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them,” he wrote in the Virginia Resolution. Jefferson said the same thing in the Kentucky Resolution.
In The Federalist, No. 46 — one of the essays authored to defend the Constitution he helped draft — Madison argued that state governments possess a powerful “means of opposition” to federal overreach: “refusal to cooperate with the officers of the Union.” In modern language, that means state governments retain the right under the Constitution to refuse to help federal agents to enforce unconstitutional powers. Other Founding Fathers, including federal supremacist Alexander Hamilton, echoed those views.
These ideas were not unique to Madison, Jefferson, and other founders. In fact, they are rooted in historic Christian doctrine known as the “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates.” Like the Hebrew midwives who defied Pharoah’s orders to murder all the baby boys, Daniel when he refused to obey a law banning prayer to God, or the followers of Jesus Christ who defied commands from the authorities of the day to stop preaching in His name, God’s people have always refused to cooperate with lawless and illegitimate government.
Throughout Christendom, inspired by those biblical role models, lower magistrates have defied higher magistrates when necessary. The Magna Carta, which laid the foundation for protection of God-given rights for almost a millennium of Anglo-Saxon history, was the result of lower magistrates forcing the King to respect citizens’ rights. Centuries later, when the people of Magdeburg were ordered by the Holy Roman Empire to abandon their biblical faith, city leaders refused to obey.
Statesman Oliver Cromwell, whose statue outside Parliament shows him holding a Bible in one hand and a sword in the other, famously raised an army to stop royal lawlessness. Cromwell and his men eventually charged the British king with treason and removed his head. And when the British government tried to impose tyranny on its American colonies, colonial leaders rose up and declared independence, appealing to Heaven and relying on Divine Providence. The same principles are just as relevant today.
Of course, advocates of total federal supremacy dishonestly claim that nullification of unconstitutional tyranny is “unconstitutional.” Their primary argument is the so-called “Supremacy Clause” contained in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the Land,” the document states.
It does make clear that federal laws are supreme over state laws. However, it also makes clear that there is a critical factor limiting that power — those laws must be made “in pursuance thereof,” not in violation of the Constitution. That means all federal statutes must be constitutional to be valid. The Tenth Amendment also makes explicit the fact that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people.
Another frequent argument made by proponents of unlimited federal power is to claim nullification is somehow “racist.” But despite claims by historical revisionists and federal supremacists who dishonestly associate it with slavery, the reality is exactly the opposite. One of the big concerns of Southern states was actually that their Northern counterparts were nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act, an unconstitutional federal statute purporting to require their cooperation in returning runaway slaves to their “owners.”
In South Carolina’s “Declaration of Immediate Causes” explaining why it was choosing to secede from the union, the state specifically cited nullification by other states as a key reason. Among other concerns, South Carolina noted that “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.”
Specifically, the Southern lawmakers slammed over a dozen Northern states that “have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.” “In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed,” they continued. “Thus, the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States.”
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right of states to do just what those Northern states did. In 1842, it ruled in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that the federal government had no power to force states to help capture and return slaves. “The states cannot be compelled to enforce the fugitive slave clause,” explained Justice Joseph Story, writing for the majority, in one of the decisions that infuriated lawmakers in slave states.
Much more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court built on that doctrine. In its landmark 1997 ruling in Printz v. United States, the court said the feds could not coerce state and local authorities into helping to enforce even constitutional or questionable statutes. That case, which involved sheriffs refusing to enforce the federal gun-control statute known as the Brady bill, articulated what is often referred to as the “anti-commandeering doctrine” protecting the authority and independence of state and local authorities.
Today, Democrat- and Republican-controlled state governments use nullification regularly, though not always by that name. In numerous Democratic states, for instance, federal marijuana prohibition has been brazenly nullified. Democrat and Republican states have nullified the federal effort to nationalize ID’s through the REAL ID Act. Meanwhile, Republican states have in recent years nullified gun-control schemes, federal efforts to limit CO2 emissions, potential Central Bank Digital Currency schemes, and more.
In the years ahead, with the United Nations and the World Health Organization scheming to usurp ever more power with help from the Biden administration, fundamental liberties are at stake. But state lawmakers are working to protect the rights of their constituents using nullification. In South Carolina, for example, legislators are working to nullify the Biden-backed power grab by the WHO that would purport to empower it to dictate all sorts of policies during declared “health emergencies.”
South Carolina Representative Josiah Magnusson, who introduced a bill to ban any state or local enforcement of WHO policies, explained to this writer why it was critical for states to act. “This is the rightful remedy,” he explained, noting that the Biden administration was not even planning to submit the UN WHO schemes to the U.S. Senate for ratification, as required by the Constitution. “If this does go into effect, we’re going to have the framework here to resist.”
Similar protections for God-given rights can be secured at the county level through the election of constitutional sheriffs. Instead of mindlessly enforcing any rule, policy, or statute, sheriffs’ primary duty is what their oath requires: Upholding and defending the U.S. and state constitutions, and the God-given rights enshrined therein. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Organization (CSPOA), led by Sheriff Richard Mack who successfully sued the Clinton administration in the Printz case described above, has trained hundreds of sheriffs nationwide on their role as guardians of liberty and justice.
Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin, one of the nation’s leading advocates working to have states nullify unconstitutional federal usurpations, told George Magazine that an educated populace supporting the Constitution was critical to preserving liberty. “Ultimately, what’s far more important than elections at any level is a people who support the Constitution and liberty, and are willing to defend it,” he explained.
Keep reading this article at George Magazine, where it was originally published, here: georgemagazine.com.