Monday, February 28, 2011

Walter Williams and Nullification.

Note: Please read up on the South Carolina nullification crisis that occurred in the 1830's, and President Andrew Jackson's response to South Carolina......

I consider Walter E. Williams to be one of the most important Conservative intellectual thinkers of the 21st century. His astuteness on the Constitution is refreshing and his columns remind you of Socrates. However, he has it wrong on the Founding Fathers and the illegitimate theory of state nullification.

Mr. Williams, who was filling in for Rush Limbaugh this afternoon, said that the Founders believed in "State Nullification" of federal laws that were thought to be unconstitutional, and he pointed out Thomas Jefferson who was responsible for the Kentucky Resolution that nullified John Adams's alien and sedition laws in 1798.

He has it wrong on a couple of big counts, but the most important is Article Six, Section Two of the U.S. Constitution where the Founding Fathers declared that federal law "shall be the supreme Law of the Land", which renders the argument for nullification, quite ironically, null and void in all cases.

What say you?


  1. This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

    Mr. K left out "in pursuace thereof" and this makes all the difference.

  2. If a law is not "in pursuance thereof" the Constitution (i.e it is unconstitutional), the supremacy clause does not apply.

    The question then becomes who is to make the ultimate decision about the constitutionality of laws. The answer is the states. The Constitution was and is a compact among the states (as evidenced by the fact that the ratifiers were the states, not "the people"). As the ratifiers of the compact, the states then, have the sole right to decide the meaning of the compact. This means the states are responsible for the ultimate determination of constitutionality.