May 2010

The Forgotten Check on the Federal Government
by Jake Towne

“In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” - Thomas Jefferson

Origins of Nullification in America Past Examples Present Day Use of Nullification
Lecture available at

Origins of Nullification in America State Sovereignty Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788 Tenth Amendment
– “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.” –

Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions of 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
– a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government – authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States."

KY: “...whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force”

Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions of 1798
VA: “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government... as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

Other Past Examples
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 – Abolitionists favored nullification Military Conscription of Minors South Carolina's Nullification Ordinance voided the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 Calling up the militia to invade Canada during the War of 1812

Calhoun's Fort Hill Address
“Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or a consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting ultimately on the solid basis of the sovereignty of the States or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, and violence, and force must finally prevail.”
- Vice President John Calhoun, 1831

Present Day Use of Nullification
Federal Health Care Bill

Present Day Use of Nullification
Medicinal Marijuana Legalization • California has already nullified federal law REAL ID signed into federal law in 2005 • States were to implement in early 2008 • All 50 states filed extensions • 25 states passed acts to not comply

Present Day Use of Nullification
“Bring Home the Guard” - Specifies governors have the ability to deny National Guard deployments Montana's “Firearms Freedom Act” was passed in April Federal gun and ammo regulations are now voided inside of Montana

Upcoming Book
“Nullification” by Dr. Thomas Woods


Graphics Acknowledgements
Unless listed below, all photos are either mine or public domain.
The “Towne 2010 – As Good As Gold” logo was created by Derek Wyatt  The Jake Towne for United States Congress logo was created by Anthony Geist

Document Copyright
Copyright © Jake Towne, 2010. Any portion of this presentation that could be copyrighted is owned by myself and I hereby released it to the public domain. I grant full permission to use any of the ideas or material within. You may republish this work. Attribution to myself is appreciated but not required.