Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 3, 2011

REPUBLICANS FIND THEIR BRIDGE TO THE 19TH CENTURY.... The Republican majority in the Iowa House this week passed a measure declaring that they intend to ignore a federal law they don't like. It's unlikely to pass the state Senate, but it's a rather striking development anyway.

The underlying issue is called "nullification," and it was a popular concept with conservatives before the Civil War. The idea has been deemed hopelessly ridiculous by the American mainstream -- in both major political parties -- for generations, which is why it's slightly horrifying to see how common it's become in far-right circles over the last couple of years.

Indeed, just over the past two weeks, in addition to Iowa's state House stoking the confederate fires, the president of the Arizona state Senate wants to create a committee that could "nullify in its entirety" federal laws state officials disapprove of, while Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) announced his support for a law nullifying federal measures he doesn't like. (Otter's Republican Attorney General felt compelled to explain, "There is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will follow.")

Nullification isn't exactly secession from the Union, but it's fair to characterize it as secession-lite.

In other words, this is simply and plainly stark raving mad. It's hardly news that contemporary Republicans have become more radical, but this nullification talk helps drive the point home nicely.

Dana Milbank had a good column a while back on those who claim "states can merely ignore any federal law they don't like."

[N]ullification, like secession, has been tried before, with poor result. In 1832, Andrew Jackson threatened to use force against South Carolina for nullifying federal law, saying the state was on the brink of treason and argued that "to say that any state may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation." A compromise held off violence for another quarter century. [...]

If a state thinks the law is unconstitutional, it can challenge the law in court, as Virginia is doing. If people don't like the law, they can elect a new Congress and president to repeal it. Or, they can attempt to amend the Constitution, as several Republican lawmakers would do with the proposed repeal of the 14th Amendment, the one with all that nonsense about equal protection under the law. But secession and nullification have all the legitimacy of a temper tantrum.

And yet, that tantrum is nevertheless becoming increasingly common, as we're seeing this week.

There is no better example of hysterical Republican extremism. Such madness would have been laughed at by the GOP mainstream not too long ago, but is now a familiar component of the party's message of the 21st century.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

GOP message to their base: "I am OUTRAGED over something or other! Send money immediately!"

Posted by: DAY on February 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a Republican in our beloved nation who wants our nation to succeed as a nation?

Driving the ship of state backwards surely will lead to no good, and we are witnessing witless politicos dunder themselves, and the rest of us, into a malarky stew, instead of the traditional metaphor of tossed salad, or even melting pot!

Yes, a malarky stew, complete with stale, ruminated Republican eats! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 3, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

"The idea has been deemed hopelessly ridiculous by the American mainstream -- in both major political parties -- for generations, which is why it's slightly horrifying to see how common it's become in far-right circles over the last couple of years."

So was homosexual marriage too..

By the way, Vermont nullified the Fugitive Slave Act of 1858. Think they were wrong in doing so? It can work both ways ya know.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on February 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

As Milbank's example shows however, it still comes down to "You and what Army."

How far do you thing the Federal gov't will go to enforce its laws against a state?

Allowing blacks into colleges is one thing, making the legislature implement the Affordable Care Act is a whole other thing.

Get out the popcorn.

Posted by: martin on February 3, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The idea has been deemed hopelessly ridiculous by the American mainstream -- in both major political parties -- for generations, which is why it's slightly horrifying to see how common it's become in far-right circles over the last couple of years.

Strike 'far-right circles' and replace with 'mainstream republican circles', and you'd be closer to the reality of conservatism circa 2009-2011.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on February 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Another attempt to take us back not just to the 19th Century, but prior to The AmericanRevolution, The Enlightment, and The Renaissance, all the way back to before the Magna Carta, you know, when men were men, and women knew it! And every man was the King of his castle.

Reminder, conservative 'morans', there were a Hell of a lot more Serfs, than Kings or Lords back in the day.

When Republican is President: How can you NOT stand behind our President and this great country?

When a Democrat is President: How can we stand him as President, we must dissolve the country!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 3, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

It must be just another day for Benen and his commenters to pick on POOR people! POOR, that is
P!ssed Off Old Republicans.

To update to teaparty language, the noted former right wing republican Barry Goldwater once said "Extremism in defense of liberty for the wealthy and corporate amerika is no vice! Moderation in the pursuit of justice for real white amerikans is no virtue!"

Of course, today Barry Goldwater would be an enemy of real repuklicans and labeled as a RINO.

To borrow from a commenter of a previous day, the motto of the TeaTards and their TeaTard Politicians is We don't know what we want, but we want it NOW!

The downside of the current repuklican party is that it is not even a minor challenge to point out their idiocy, breath-taking ignorance and absolute lunacy and to mock and ridicule them.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on February 3, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Once these GOP' bozos succeed in succeeding it won't be long before they will need to ask for the one thing that all americans rally around: Foreign Aid elimination.

Especially those states that don't have state income taxes and rely on federal aid for their water treatment plants (for starters). I say let them succeed. Then when Obama takes their advice to make sure to pay back China first and they go begging from their electorates for tax revenues watch as the tar and feathers fly.

What fun...

Posted by: Stevio on February 3, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The introduction of SB 1433 here in Arizona has the same intent, virtual succession from the United States. This is from the same crowd that produced SB 1073, the anti-immigration bill.

Posted by: -syzygy- on February 3, 2011 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell is wrong with a little (or lot of) nullification?

As a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, I am proud that my township has the capability of nullifying any city law that they deem unwarranted. I am proud that my city has the capability of nullifying any state law that they disagree with. Why should my state not have the same right in relationship to the federal government?

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 3, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for letting the reed states secede. There will be a lot more money in the federal coffers for Americans without having 20 or so neo confederate mooch states sucking on the federal tit.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The particularly bizarre thing about trying to attempt nullification in this case is that they are using it against the health care mandate, which is an income tax. So the state is saying they have outlawed the Federal government from collecting an income tax. How do they intend to enforce this? Will they confiscate peoples' income tax forms from the IRS and scratch out the part concerning the mandate? Will they investigate people's filings to make sure they're not paying it?

And if the Republicans actually think this is a thing they can do, why not just go all the way? Why not just have states pass a law, say, reducing everyone's Federal income tax by 20% next year? It is not an exaggeration to say that the primary goal of Republican politics over the last 30 years has been to reduce Federal taxes. But if states can just outlaw parts of the income tax code, well hey, that becomes easy.

The upshot is that Republicans don't mean anything they say, the policies they claim to support aren't intended to work or even be enacted, and even laws they pass are just meaningless posturing to impress an easily impress base.

Posted by: mcc on February 3, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I am proud that my city has the capability of nullifying any state law that they disagree with. Why should my state not have the same right in relationship to the federal government?

Ummm... that would be anarchy. When I am elected mayor of my town, I want all the cars to drive on the left side. And to promote better health I want milk to come out of all the faucets. It would be crazy for everyone to make their own rules.

Posted by: kanopsis on February 3, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

It is a fascinating argument, you must admit.
The states are saying in essence that their citizens are state citizens for the states to exploit and regulate as they choose and not citizens of the USA for the federal laws to exploit and regulate. Or perhaps more precisely that state citizenship takes precedence over US citizenship.

We did have that discussion a while back. it will be interesting to see how it shakes out this time.

Posted by: thebewilderness on February 3, 2011 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Again, I wonder if the business side of the Republican party is on board with system that makes state's rights a priority?

Do they really want a world were there are 50 different standards related to food additives, car emissions, insurace regulation or a host of other issues? One of the big drivers of federalizing regulations has been the business community that wants one set of nationwide standards (and only one legislative body it has to bribe). Returning to a world of 50 little mini countries all with their own ideas makes doing business in the United States really ugly.

Posted by: thorin-1 on February 3, 2011 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

re kanopsis...

Point number 1 - RPOV was referring to the elected legislative body of Indianapolis, not the mayor!

Point number 2 - My alter ego RPOV was pointing out that to be consistent, repigs would have to allow nullification down to the lowest level of government.

Point number 3 - It upsets me when persons refer to anarchy as if that was a perjorative! As a dual major in college with one being in political philosophy, one of my favorites in the philosophy world is Marcilius of Padua (circa 1275-1342) who wrote what I interpret to be the definitive book explaining that anarchy (at least in a theoretical basis) is/can be a good thing! It is the politicians and their echo chamber media that continue to distort what real anarchy is!

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on February 3, 2011 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

What citizen_pain said: if any states want to secede, let 'em go. The rest of us will be better off without them.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

This continues to support my thesis that the Repoublicans want to return to 19th century values. To rehash... Many Republicans want to rewrite the 14th amendment to keep kids of undocumented workers from being made citizens, we have elected Republcian officials questioning whether the Fed is legal, The Republican Governors of AZ, TX, and FL want to stop Medicaid, a Supreme Court who has given a green light to corporate influence in politics not seen since the 19th century, and now Scalia opposes a judicial role in equal protection under the law for women. Additionally many would make abortion illegal, stop unemployment insurance, and people like AZ Governor Jan Brewer want to jail undocumented workers in privately run prisons. 

Each and every one of these ideas has it's proponents in Congress and the Supreme Court.  And as much as I like and admire many things about the 19th century -- abolition of slavery, intellectual curiosity, the progressive movement, art nouveaux, neo-classical architecture, the increase in workers rights... I would never want to return even in part to the morality, social structure, and income inequality of that most complex century.  Republicans who seem to want to are, 

If we must have 19th century values let us pick the right ones, those which made our country great - a movement up and up in terms of human rights, a strong federal system, free education for all, and a spirit of exploration... All solid 19th century values but incompatible with the legal and moral structure, the worst of the 19th century which was reformed in the 20th, Republicans want to revive.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

thebewilderness, "We did have that discussion a while back. it will be interesting to see how it shakes out this time."

Yeah, that whole constitution thing has held together for a while ;)

Now aren't these states whining the loudest also the ones sucking the most money from the Feds? Sure be nice if we could all vote to not pay fed taxes, but still keep fed money pouring in.

Posted by: golack on February 3, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

@ Kurtrex1453 :
"I would never want to return even in part to the morality, social structure, and income inequality of that most complex century."

Er Um I think we have or at least are well on the path

Posted by: John R on February 3, 2011 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

NOTE: this also raises the question of what will happen if the Federal Governmenr decides that Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer cannot choose to cut 280,000 impoverished citizens from Medicaid rolls to balance the state budget. Suppose she decides to ignore that ruling and eliminates their insurance. What happens next after lawsuit after lawsuit fails to fix the situation and 280,000 people lose their health care while the courts cases drag on?

These are questions which cannot be ignored. I have every confidence Jan Brewer and the reckless Republicans are planning on making this a test case for their corporate and anti-federalist friends. (Yes, I wrote "anti-federalist" who would have thought that 200 years later the question would still be debatable.)

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 3, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

TX Gov. Rick "nice hair" Perry is one of the leaders of this extremism. Piling in buckets of Stimulus Money and Fed Grants through the back door while standing at the front door screaming for the Feds to "Get out of Texas' Business". Until a hurricane, tornado, flood hits, then of course it's "where the hell is the Government?".
Perry lied his way into another term by telling gullible TeaBagging Texans that all was well and Texas was rich. Once elected they found out Texas was poor and the elected Texans started cutting every service they could. Next year, when another terrible winter storm comes through and there are NO emergency response units, NO shelters, NO anything to help them make it....thanks go to Rick Perry.

Posted by: T2 on February 3, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Arizona introduced a similar measure in their Senate. It was from "Papers Please" Pearce.

Posted by: Bill Egnor on February 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

How long till the red states are demanding we throw the Constitution out and bring back the Articles of Confederation? Is that what they already are doing?

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on February 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

So States can ignore Federal Laws now?

Hmm. . . and yet my state (California) cannot legalize marijuana, even for medical use, without the growers/distributers having to fear the Feds. How cute.

Usual Repug half-thinking: "Keep the Feds out of my life/business/religion. . . unless, that is, we're trying to outlaw gay marriage, stop the hippies from smoking their dope, and force everyone to ackowledge the glorious wisdom of Evangelical Fundamentalist American Christianity."

Posted by: Mitch on February 3, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is not "secession lite", because no secession is implied. The states discussed will expect all the benefits of being part of the union, including use of its currency and federal institutions such as the postal system, but insist on the right to disregard federal law as it applies to individual states.

Ha, ha.

Posted by: Mark on February 3, 2011 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Supremacy Clause. Do I need to say anything else?

If I do need to, I'd like to mention the Privileges and Immunities Clause in the (increasingly less popular) 14th Amendment.

I also have a bone to pick with those who say 'Let the Neo-Nullifiers secede!': I say, arrest 'em for subversion.

Posted by: Seould on February 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

The talk of nullification by these Republican/Teabaggers is yet another sign of their increasing desperation as they become a minority.
It's the very same reaction displayed by the slave-owning oligarchy in the South before the War of Southern Treason. First there were threats about nullification, but since two can play at that game*, THAT talk died down. Then, for nearly 20 years, Southern legislators in the Federal government used their votes in Congress to block any Federal initiatives that didn't expressly encourage the spread of slavery by aligning themselves with representatives from either the North or West as the situation demanded.
By 1860, however, the writing was on the wall; the South was being left behind demographically by the West and the North. Neither section wanted slaves brought into their areas and each had more in common with the other than with the South, thus blunting the Southerners ability to play one agains the other. The election that year gave the radicals (proto-Teabaggers?) their chance. The Republican Party platform GUARANTEED the furtherance of slavery WHERE IT ALREADY EXISTED, but supported Federal efforts that would contain it there. That wasn't enough, however. The radicals in the South, as in several recent Republican primaries, managed to pack the "conventions" that were held and committed treason rather that face reality.
It required 600,000 dead to force the South to accept that reality and in the meanwhile a third of the country was laid waste, the economy of the Southern states destroyed for nearly fifty years and the slaves were freed under the worst possible circumstances - unwanted by their liberators and feared and hated by their former owners.
I seriously doubt that there will be any organized armed resistance by these chowderheads; most of whom are merely blowing political smoke. Unfortunately, that smoke may well provide cover for individuals and small groups who actually ARE as crazy as the rhetoric they've been listening to.

*see Sean Scallon @ 1:40 PM.

Posted by: Doug on February 3, 2011 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Of course you know this, but AZ Senator Pearce, and the anti-federalist Az Republicans, have introduced their own nullification law. Raisingthe question of what will happen if the Federal Government decides that Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer cannot choose to cut 280,000 impoverished citizens from Medicaid rolls to balance the state budget. Suppose she decides to ignore that ruling and eliminates their insurance. What happens next after lawsuit after lawsuit fails to fix the situation and 280,000 people lose their health care while the courts cases drag on?

These are questions which cannot be ignored. I have every confidence Jan Brewer and the reckless Republicans are planning on making this a test case for their corporate and anti-federalist friends. (Yes, I wrote "anti-federalist" who would have thought that 150 years after the Civil War the question would still be debatable.)

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 4, 2011 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Do you suppose Mexico would want Arizona and Texas? I'm wondering if we can sell 'em off before they secede.

Posted by: beejeez on February 4, 2011 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

All Republican legislators are dicks.

Posted by: David Bailey on February 4, 2011 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking for myself, I have two problems. One is the fact that I am about to be forced to pay some sleazy insurance company on the off chance that I may need their services. I do not have a say in this, and in fact can be fined or probably worse, since I have nothing to be fined for. (fines work only if you have money to give them to pay the fine). Second is this statement: If people don't like the law, they can elect a new Congress and president to repeal it. BBWWAAHAHAHAHA!! You MUST be joking! The 'people' do not elect anything. I thought that would be obvious by now, especially with how the current President is conveniently forgetting some of his campaign promises to those very people that elected him.

Posted by: baldguy on February 6, 2011 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly