Danger ahead — the nullification of the Congress
By Norvell Rose
There hasn’t been so much heated discussion of “nullification” since the OJ trial. You remember that culture-clash moment in American Justice, don’t you? When OJ Simpson, the former NFL star turned actor, was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend? The 1995 courtroom spectacle in Los Angeles has been described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. Its outcome — an acquittal in the face of reasonably damning evidence — has also been cited as one of the most glaring examples of a legal phenomenon known as “jury nullification.”
Put simply, jury nullification is the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her. It is the power of the panel to act in bold defiance of both law and fact, voting to set a defendant free, even if that person did run afoul of a particular criminal statute. In the OJ case, the sympathetic jury essentially poked a prominent finger in the eye of the system, giving their own peculiar twist to the term “blind justice.”
More recently, nullification of a different sort has been put on trial in the court of public opinion and pursued in the chambers of state legislatures across the country. This type of nullification is not an act of defiance, rather one of obedience — obedience to the Constitution of the United States and to the conscience of its determined protectors.
When a state nullifies a federal law, it does so with the solemn conviction that the law in question is unconstitutional. The state’s lawmakers, generally invoking their sovereign powers under the Tenth Amendment, are proclaiming that the offensive law is void and inoperative, or non-effective, within the boundaries of that state. In other words, they declare that the federal law is not “legal” and cannot be enforced against their citizens.
Such nullification has a long history in the American tradition. Of late it has been used by quite a few states in effectively blocking the federal Real ID Act of 2005 and resisting federal marijuana laws. With regard to healthcare legislation expected to be forced on us against our will by Washington, a number of states are already putting into motion the wheels of nullification. Legislation has been introduced, or state constitutional amendments put forth for 2010, that could effectively nullify national healthcare mandates within the borders of the various states.
What’s directly implied in such nullification laws is “interposition” (as referred to by James Madison in the Virginia Resolution of 1798). This is a bedrock principle supporting state sovereignty. According to this principle, state governments not only have the right to resist unconstitutional federal acts, but, in order to protect liberty, they are “duty bound to interpose” or stand between the federal government and the people of the state. To do less would be an unconscionable dereliction of civic duty and would jeopardize the standing of the state and the rights of its citizens.
Which introduction to nullification brings us now to the sharp point of this piece — the looming danger we face from the impending nullification of the Congress of the United States.
It is a charge that, until recently, would seem too outrageous even to consider. But given the extreme, purposeful and concerted misdeeds, destructive acts and examples of egregious malfeasance by official Washington, it is a charge that cries out to be aired.
The Obama Administration and its either willing or unwitting co-conspirators on Capitol Hill (I would bet heavily on “willing”) are, without a doubt, scheming to undermine our cherished Constitutional system of checks and balances. They are conspiring to cause future elections of our U.S. Senators and Representatives to be effectively “null and void” in their legislative impact. After all, in their radical leftist construct for government “rule,” why should the “rulers” have to bother with that pesky, problematic, unpredictable Congress? This would, indeed, be “fundamental change,” wouldn’t it? And if the Obamacratic oligarchists succeed in this subversion — one that would tragically be “historic and unprecedented” (to borrow again from Mr. Obama’s lofty language) — it will matter little how federal elections turn out in 2010…or in any year beyond.
Alarmist, am I? Cuckoo escaped from the cage, you say? Consider this: Every major move, initiative, proposal or policy of the Obama White House and its willing enablers down the street in DC has, at its dark heart, a pernicious power grab or power shift. The intent? To restructure the balance of power into the hands of an almighty Executive. The evidence?
Healthcare. Use empty promises, corrupt bargains, secret negotiations … ignore the clear and consistent will of the people … create some horrendous, freak show of a bill built in haste for partisan political purposes … ram it, cram it, jam it through in a “crisis” atmosphere … grab untold power for a vast new bureaucracy, as well as for the IRS as “enforcer” … and … Congress is then pretty much out of play because this voracious monster will be able to feed at will and grow willy-nilly without restraint.
Stimulus. Shifting control of massive spending, with its attendant employment design capability, from the Legislative to the Executive Branch, with the Treasury Department now fairly well in charge of Uncle Sam’s checkbook and credit card.
Bailouts. From banking to energy to transportation, critical decisions about money and management are being effectively maneuvered into the hands of the President and his inner circle, including select corporate chieftans and union bosses.
Taxes. Why mess around with contentious legislation when the same effect can be achieved — gaining greater control over Americans’ money — by using assumed Executive power to directly or indirectly impose fees, levies, fines and surcharges?
Environment. Shift ever-greater command and control to Executive-branch agencies, e.g. the impudent EPA, usurping the constitutional authority of the Congress, which is forever diminished.
Czars. Well, do we really need to review how these powerful presidential appointments — dozens of liberal loose cannons — skirt meaningful Legislative-branch advice, consent and oversight?
And on and on the sad story goes. A story whose ending could well mark the end of Congress as a body with any real power and authority. Too many in Congress have, for far too long, been complacent or complicit in this crime.
Understanding this in-our-face attempt to disrupt and dismantle our system of government helps to explain why the President and the Democrat leadership turn an increasingly deaf ear to the complaints of the voters. Those complaints, according to their scheme, will soon be rendered moot, mere background noise. They know our best, most immediate course of action against the Obamacrats attempted coup is to “throw the bums out” in November. But if the biggest and baddest of the bums can pull off their power play, our voting a new team onto the political field in Washington will have little impact on changing the outcome of the liberals’ endgame.
The alarming evidence of the Administration’s purposeful attempt to pry more and more authority from the Congress is stark and overwhelming. The arguments demonstrating the President’s plan to amass and consolidate government power under his far-reaching control are clear and compelling. The Congress — the most direct reach of the people into the Washington political machine — is being systematically neutered. Nullification of this once-great legislative body is fully underway.
We can only hope that We the People — the jury in this felony case — will rise up and deliver an unflinching verdict based on the law of the land and the Constitutional foundations upon which it rightly rests. This must be a verdict that will render swift and sure punishment to those offenders who are trying to get away with the Constitutional crime of the century. The strength of our demand that this grand larceny stop, and stop right now, will determine whether We the Jury — We the Voters — are, ourselves, nullified.
As to whether this justice is forthcoming, history will be the judge.