On the heels of a poll that showed 29 percent of registered voters believe an “armed revolution” may be needed in America to restore liberties, a second poll indicates Americans already have figured out a solution – reject federal laws that are unconstitutional.
The previous poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University said that among Republicans, 44 percent think armed revolution soon might be needed. But a Rasmussen poll highlighted by the Tenth Amendment Center found that more than one-third of Americans favor their state blocking federal gun control laws if it considers them to be unconstitutional.
Less than half, 45 percent, opposed blocking laws considered unconstitutional.
And on the general question of “nullification,” 44 percent believe states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Thirty-six percent disagree and 20 percent are undecided, the pollsters said.
The states-rights argument has gained traction recently in the U.S. in response to a major control effort from Washington, Obamacare and dozens of other agendas on which the Obama administration is building its legacy.
“Digging into the numbers, we find even broader support for nullification where it really counts – on Main Street,” the center’s report said.
“A majority of everyday politically engaged Americans support the general principle of nullification. According to the Rasmussen poll, 52 percent of mainstream voters think states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Where does the opposition come from? Seventy-four percent of those polled identifying with the ‘political class’ oppose nullification,” the center said.
Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center state chapter coordinator Lesley Swann said people “are finally starting to understand and accept the concept of decentralization. Our message is mainstream now, and we have hard data to prove it.”
Mike Maharrey, the national communications chief for the center, said the results are amazing.
“Think about it. Even with constant demonization of nullification in the media, a majority of everyday Americans believe the states should step in and block unconstitutional acts. And the pollsters used the word ‘block,’” he said. “It’s the politicians and pundits – the so-called political class – who oppose it. Hardly shocking, since the whole idea of decentralization threatens their grip on power.”
Maharrey noted the polling indicates that “many who don’t necessarily embrace nullification still believe in decentralizing power, and devolving authority back to the states and the people where the founders intended, at least when it comes to firearms regulation.”
According to the poll, he pointed out, 49 percent think it should be a state or local issue.
“When it comes to certain issues, even Democrats jump on the nullification train,” he said. “According to a Pew Research poll released last month, 59 percent of Democrats say that the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that permit its use.”
Maharrey concluded: “Ladies and gentlemen, nullification just became the majority opinion.”
Maharrey’s group points out that the 10th Amendment reserves to the states and the people all powers not specifically granted to the federal government. That would include jurisdiction over activities such as in-state manufacturing and health care, which are not mentioned in the Constitution.
On point in the dispute is the recent move by the Kansas legislature to nullify certain limits on firearms, magazines or ammunition by the federal government.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 102 into law to exempt Kansas from any laws the federal government might pass that would infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Thirty-two state legislatures already have introduced pro-Second Amendment “nullification” bills. The progress of the bills can be tracked at the Tenth Amendment Center’s website.
Montana began the trend with its Firearms Freedom Act. The law is currently tied up in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments last month. The Cato and Goldwater Institutes have filed a friend-of-the-court brief “arguing that federal law doesn’t preempt Montana’s ability to exercise its sovereign police powers to facilitate the exercise of individual rights protected by the Second and Ninth Amendments.”
As WND reported, several more states have now passed laws modeled after Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act, including Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah and Tennessee.
Nullification previously has been used as a legal argument to overturn everything from pro-slavery laws to Obamacare, always unsuccessfully. The U.S. Supreme Court contends that under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal law is superior to state law and that federal courts have the final say on interpreting the Constitution.
But with the momentum of 32 states having introduced pro-Second Amendment nullification bills, that may change. And the poll results appear to support the move.
Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, said there are many ways to nullify a law.
“The courts can strike a law down. The executive branch could refuse to enforce it. People in large numbers might refuse to comply. A number of states could pass a law making its enforcement illegal. Or a number a states could refuse to cooperate in any way with its enforcement.”
Right now, the Obama administration is “nullifying” the federal Defense of Marriage Act by refusing to enforce it.
The concept also has gained traction because of the federal National Defense Authorization Act, which appears to allow the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens without due process.
Several states have adopted bills stating that such actions are not allowed inside their borders.
During the 2012 election alone, nearly a dozen states voted on measures that literally snubbed Washington’s authority, ranging from marijuana to Obamacare.
As WND reported, Arizona and Montana reviewed proposals that would set up standing state commissions to review “all existing federal statutes, mandates, and executive orders” to determine their constitutionality.
The commissions would recommend to state lawmakers whether or not any particular federal plan should be nullified in that state.
Weighing in the the subject, WND columnist Walter Williams argued that “moral people” can’t rely only on courts to determine what is right and wrong.
“Suppose Congress enacted a law – and the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional – requiring American families to attend church services at least three times a month,” he wrote. “Should we obey such a law? Suppose Congress, acting under the Constitution’s commerce clause, enacted a law requiring motorists to get eight hours of sleep before driving on interstate highways. Its justification might be that drowsy motorists risk highway accidents, and accidents affect interstate commerce. Suppose you were a jury member during the 1850s and a free person were on trial for assisting a runaway slave, in clear violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. Would you vote to convict and punish?
“A moral person would find each one of those laws either morally repugnant or to be a clear violation of our Constitution. You say, ‘Williams, you’re wrong this time. In 1859, in Ableman v. Booth, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 constitutional.’ That court decision, as well as some others in our past, makes my case. Moral people can’t rely solely on the courts to establish what’s right or wrong. Slavery is immoral; therefore, any laws that support slavery are also immoral. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, ‘to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.’”
The Tenth Amendment Center’s perspective on nullification: