This is the first installment in a series about nullification – see the bottom of this article for a complete list.
On March 21, 2010 – I stood on an improvised stage (the back of a pickup truck) located between the State Capitol and the Governor’s mansion at GiN’s flash rally “Kill or Nullify the Bill!”. Throughout the preceding two week period, it had become clear that the health care bill was going to be passed by Congress and Sunday, March 21, was the day on which the vote would occur.
The rally was my response to the emails and phone calls imploring me to organize a bus for Nebraskans who wanted to join protesters in Washington, D.C. Since I had been of the firm opinion for some time that “the fix was in” when it came to the passage of health care and that D.C. politicians had become particularly impervious to public pressure, I didn’t think it was a good use of time or resources to organize such a bus. I responded by calling people to gather closer to home – in the seat of State government.
At the rally, I made a case for focusing on Nebraska’s state officials; I held up a paper copy of the 800+ page version of the bill 1 Ironically, the paper version of the bill I had in my possession was given to me by the District Manager for Senator Ben Nelson, back in October 2009. By the time we reached March 21, the final version of the bill had reached 2,409 pages in length. , listed some of the many sleazy maneuvers by which our country had arrived at that very moment and reviewed how Nebraska’s very own Senator Ben Nelson and his Cornhusker Kickback were critical to the health care bill’s passage. I implored everyone present to turn their attention within our state and to let their state legislators and Governor know we expected action.
I called for support of a health care nullification resolution (LR289CA), languishing in committee in our Unicameral. (If you’re not familiar with the term nullification see the footnotes2 Webster’s dictionary definition can be found HERE. Wikipedia’s article on nullification appears balanced, although advocates for nullification may find that statement arguable. For another perspective, see the Tenth Amendment Center’s Nullification page. Interposition is another term used to refer to States either refusing to implement a federal law or regulation or passing legislation declaring a law null and void within a state. .
I’ve realized since, my calls for supporting nullification were a mistake.
I’ve learned that my instincts were correct, it was time to further scrutinize what the elected officials in my state were doing, but not for some of the reasons I believed last year. At that time I believed what I’d heard; the majority of Nebraska’s elected officials did not want the health care law enacted and they were going to do what it took to stop it.
A lot of evidence convinces me that I was giving too much credit to my state officials, in some ways placing too much blame on the politicians in D.C., and most importantly, I did not have a full understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution.
For a long time, my primary goals have been to search for what is true and what is right. Sometimes, despite my best intentions and diligence, I make mistakes. I have to accept the truth when I find it, whether I like it or not, and pursue what is right – whether it is easy or not.
It’s important to note at this point, that the person I work closest with – Linda – was never comfortable with nullification, but she originally supported advocating for the nullification measure referenced above to be moved out of committee because it would at least be a sign from some of our State Senators that they were opposed to the health care law and that they were interested in working against its implementation. We recognized it would have been nearly impossible to successfully get the measured passed, based on a number of factors. In other words, Linda’s support for the measure was for the purposes of moving a ball forward in a debate.
Linda and I have spent nearly a year since that rally continuing to observe the workings of Nebraska’s government, studying the health care law, and conducting a lot of additional research that is ultimately related.
The information Linda and I have pulled together, discussed, and it’s important to note, debated, has convinced us that supporting nullification is not the answer because…
- History has proven it ineffective
- A belief in a number of erroneous concepts is required
- Pursuing this avenue prohibits focus on truly effective actions
- It is neither morally right nor constitutional
Recognizing that there are many people, a growing number, in fact, who have settled on nullification as the solution to out-of-control-government, I am prepared to defend my change of heart and to engage in civilized debate. (That process has already begun, at least through my email; a message I sent to a gentleman in the state of Idaho on the subject and copied to others who I thought might be interested, has set off a debate.)
For many people who truly wish to see a restoration of the limited, republican government found in the Constitution, according to its original meaning, it is the debate of our time.
Efforts currently invested in informing other citizens about nullification and lobbying and/or assisting elected officials to pass legislation could be re-focused – - with much more effective results.
It’s very important to note that being against nullification does not mean one is for the current size of federal government or the actual encroachments on state sovereignty or that one is against other steps that can be taken by States and citizens to fight unconstitutional laws or regulations.
To be continued in Part 2: History Has Proven Nullification a Failure – Just Look at REAL ID”.
1. This article