Could the recent Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care act bring conservative Republicans back to their state-sovereignty, nullification roots?
It just might.
Last week, two major conservative publications — National Review and The American Spectator — featured stories flirting with nullification. On top of that, millions of conservative Republicans got a nullification lesson on Thursday when Walter Williams guest-hosted “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”
Many Americans associate nullification with racism, because they think Southern states used the principle to protect slavery. In fact, northern abolitionists advanced nullification and appealed to “states’ rights” in their battle against fugitive slave laws. And while modern Republicans generally respond tepidly to the idea of nullification, their party was born out of a nullification fight in Wisconsin, a historical fact that long ago fell down an Orwellian memory hole.
Historically speaking, the Republican Party is the party of nullification.
In March of 1854, Benammi Stone Garland, two federal marshals and several others broke into the home of Joshua Glover. They clubbed him over the head, dragged him bleeding from his shanty and locked him up in the Milwaukee jail. Glover was an escaped slave, and Garland his “owner.” Legally, Garland had every right to take his “property” into custody and drag Glover back to Missouri. The Constitution provided for the return of escaped slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 created the mechanism. The act denied due process to anyone accused of escaping slavery. Federal courts authorized the capture of fugitive slaves simply on the word of their “owners.” The accused weren’t even allowed to testify in their own defense. The Fugitive Slave Act was wildly unpopular and actively resisted in every northern state.
Wisconsinites quickly acted. Led by Sherman Booth, an abolitionist newspaper editor, several thousand people gathered on the steps of the Milwaukee courthouse. When a federal judge refused to release Glover on a writ of habeas corpus, the throng broke him out of jail and ushered him onto the famed Underground Railroad. Glover ultimately escaped to freedom in Canada.
The events of that spring day sparked a five-year battle between Wisconsin and the federal government. The feds charged Booth for violating the Fugitive Slave Act, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court freed him on a writ of habeas corpus, declaring the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional. Justice Abram Smith wrote, “Every jot and tittle of power delegated to the Federal Government will be acquiesced in, but every jot and tittle of power reserved to the States will be rigidly asserted.”
The aftermath of Glover’s escape led directly to the formation of the Republican Party. Anti-slavery meetings in the spring of 1854 spurred by the fight between Wisconsin and the federal government led to a statewide convention in July. The attendees formed a party and nominated candidates for the November elections. They called their new party “the Republican Party.” It flexed its muscle that fall, winning two of three congressional races and taking control of the Wisconsin legislature.
Republicans lost ground in 1855 when the party added temperance to its platform. But with the battle over slavery turning bloody in Kansas, Wisconsin Republicans turned things around in the 1856 elections. The fledgling party, promoting free soil and state sovereignty, took all three congressional seats, and grabbed firm control of the state assembly and senate. The Republican-controlled state legislature passed a resolution supporting the Wisconsin Supreme Court in nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act and interposing for Booth. It also defied federal law by passing a Personal Liberty Act. Among other things, the law gave county courts the power to issue writs of habeas corpus to fugitive slaves, made it the duty of district attorneys to seek their discharge and established fines of $1,000 for kidnapping free blacks.
The selection of Wisconsin’s next U.S. senator reveals the Republican Party’s deep state-sovereignty roots. The caucus put two resolutions to the candidates. The first endorsed Jeffersonian constitutionalism as expressed in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which nullified the Alien and Sedition Acts. The second asserted that Republicans had a duty to stand by the state Supreme Court to “pronounce final judgment” in all matters regarding the reserved powers of the states and to shield residents from unconstitutional federal acts. Early front-runner Timothy Howe heartily endorsed the first resolution but equivocated on the second. He ultimately lost to James Doolittle, who pledged his full support for both resolutions.
The Republican Party grew from the soil of state sovereignty and nullification. Now is the time for Republicans to rediscover those roots and support state nullification of the federal health care act.
Mike Maharrey serves as the national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, a think tank promoting constitutional fidelity and working to restore a proper balance of power between the state and federal governments. You may contact Mike at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nullification …. The Roots of the Republican Party (youviewedblog.wordpress.com)
- Republicans repealed the Fugitive Slave Act (grandoldpartisan.typepad.com)
- Stopping NDAA (personalliberty.com)
- Oklahoma Seeks Nullification of ObamaCare, Power To Arrest Federal Agents (libertycrier.com)
- Oklahoma State Rep. to Propose ObamaCare Nullification Bill (libertycrier.com)
- Should We Obey All Laws? (johnmalcolm.me)
President Obama at a press conference this morning insisted that high-level national security leaks are not coming from the White House.
“The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified information is offensive,” President Obama said.
“It would appear the President’s statement and the New York Times statements directly conflict with each other and cannot both be true at the same time,” the memo states.
For proof, the memo highlights Obama’s denial that the White House is responsible for the leaks and certain statements in the Times‘s stories.
“If that statement were meant to serve as a denial that the Obama Administration leaked classified information, it would appear to stand in direct contrast to the New York Times article describing the President’s personal involvement in a process ‘to designate terrorists for kill or capture,'” the memo states. “One of the opening paragraphs described the methodology for compiling the story, saying ‘three dozen’ of the President’s ‘current and former advisers’ were interview sources for the story.”
The memo cites another example that would seem to contradict the president’s statement: “A second story, about cyberattacks on Iran nuclear facilities, citied discussions with ‘officials involved in the program,’ and went on to say that program ‘remains highly classified.'”
- Holder appoints two prosecutors to probe national security leaks (thehill.com)
- Obama Denies Leaks (thedailybeast.com)
The Obama administration is undermining domestic fossil-fuel production, say Republican Party officials.
They point to comments by EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz, who resigned Sunday as agency administrator for the south-central region, suggesting that the agency’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” oil and gas companies as being symbolic of the administration’s attitude.
The Washington Free Beacon reported in a March 13, 2012 article that Obama Interior Department officials have intentionally “slow walked” drilling permits, reducing the number of annual permits by two-thirds from 157 before the 2010 drilling moratorium to 51 after. The GOP argues that small- to medium-sized businesses are the ones getting hurt, not “Big Oil” as Democrats like to argue.
As a result, half of all Gulf of Mexico businesses have laid-off workers and a further 39 percent have cut salaries and/or hours. A further 46 percent of affected businesses have moved their operations out of the gulf.
EPA regulations could result in a 11 percent drop in gas production and a 37 percent drop in domestic oil production.
The same attitude carries over to coal, where the Washington Post reported that looming EPA regulations would end the construction of conventional coal-fired power plants nationwide. Thirteen percent of all coal-fired power plants are likely going to shut down because of EPA regulations.
This has hit too close to home for a traditional Democratic constituency – coal miners.
By John Rossomando /// April 30, 2012
- Obama officials rip into GOP gasoline bills (mb50.wordpress.com)
- EPA Official: EPAs “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of US energy producers (mb50.wordpress.com)
- EPA Official on How To Deal With Non-Compliant Companies: ‘Hit Them as Hard as You Can’ & ‘Make Examples Out of Them’ (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- EPA Official Quits Over Remark (myfoxchicago.com)
- EPA Is Sorry for the Analogy But Not the Context of Crucifying the Oil & Gas Industries (independentsentinel.com)
President Obama is expected to announce a plan to tackle oil market manipulation today.
Obama will make a statement in the White House Rose Garden about the issue at 11 a.m. EDT.
The president has been criticized for doing little to curb rising gas prices. The plan would increase spending for Wall Street enforcement, at a time when Republicans are trying to curb the extent of federal financial regulations.
Obama’s $52 million plan involves strengthening federal supervision of oil markets and increasing fines for market manipulation, according to CBS News.
The plan calls for a six-fold increase in the surveillance and enforcement staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to better monitor and deter oil market manipulation.
It also aims to increase spending on technology to improve surveillance of energy markets, increase civil and criminal fines against firms caught engaging in market manipulation from $1 million – $10 million.
In April last year, President Obama said his attorney general had launched a task force with “Just one job: rooting out cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices, including any illegal activity by traders and speculators.”