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Wallace Hoffman: State Nullification

January 29th, 2011 by Halli

By Wallace Hoffman, Idaho Falls

Do the states have the right to nullify the Healthcare Bill? Absolutely. In fact, they not only have the right, but the obligation.

First, the health-care bill is unconstitutional and has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. When the states formed the federal government, they did not grant it unlimited powers in the name of the general welfare. The Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Therefore, the states have the power to nullify unconstitutional laws.

Second, our government was formed with a system of checks and balances. One of these was a sharing of power between the states and federal government. The Senate originally represented the states in Congress, but this was changed by the Seventeenth Amendment, in which senators are now elected by popular vote instead of by the state legislatures. However, the Seventeenth Amendment did not invalidate the Tenth Amendment, since the Bill of Rights is not subject to amendment. Unalienable rights, by definition, are rights that cannot be revoked by government. That is why they are unalienable.

Third, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (Article VI, clause 2) states that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land, but only if they are made “in pursuance of the Constitution.” All federal and state employees take an oath to support the Constitution, not the federal government. This means that if the federal government passes a law which violates the Constitution, our representatives would be breaking their oath if they supported such a law.

Does the Supreme Court decide which laws are constitutional? No, it doesn’t. It only decides which laws shall be enforced. If the Supreme Court decided the constitutionally of laws, why are its decisions not unanimous by all its judges? Furthermore, past decisions of the Supreme Court have been nullified by later decisions of the Supreme Court, showing that it is not infallible. Also, since the Supreme Court is part of the federal government, its decisions tend to be biased in its favor. And finally, nothing in the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to interpret the Constitution. This power was usurped by the Supreme Court itself in the case of Marbury vs Madison.

The Civil War did not establish the federal government’s supremacy over the states. Politics is a branch of philosophy, and no philosophical debate is ever decided by force. Any law which is unconstitutional is automatically null and void, since you cannot have two laws which simultaneously contradict each other. Only the Constitution is the supreme law.

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