Nullification - The Rightful Remedy

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And the charade is about to repeat itself once again. Do we vote the old bums out in hopes that the new bums will save our Republic? Nullification - The Rightful Remedy

“What Is It? State nullification is the idea that the states can and must refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws.

Says Who? Says Thomas Jefferson, among other distinguished Americans. His draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 first introduced the word “nullification” into American political life, and follow-up resolutions in 1799 employed Jefferson’s formulation that “nullification…is the rightful remedy” when the federal government reaches beyond its constitutional powers. In the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, James Madison said the states were “duty bound to resist” when the federal government violated the Constitution.

But Jefferson didn’t invent the idea. Federalist supporters of the Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788 assured Virginians that they would be “exonerated” should the federal government attempt to impose “any supplementary condition” upon them – in other words, if it tried to exercise a power over and above the ones the states had delegated to it. Patrick Henry and later Jefferson himself elaborated on these safeguards that Virginians had been assured of at their ratifying convention.

What’s the Argument for It? Here’s an extremely basic summary:

1) The states preceded the Union. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “free and independent states” that “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” The British acknowledged the independence not of a single blob, but of 13 states, which they proceeded to list one by one. Article II of the Articles of Confederation says the states “retain their sovereignty, freedom, and independence”; they must have enjoyed that sovereignty in the past in order for them to “retain” it in 1781 when the Articles were officially adopted.

Liberty-Pac's picture
Jul. 7, 2011 10:55 pm


Gee, you kind of shot your own argument in the foot by quoting from the "Articles of Confederation". We live under the Constitution, not the Articles of Confederation. So you're argument is without merit and, well...pointless. I know you conservatives are always wanting to delegitimize the federal government with a "states rights" claim but you'll have to do better.

mdhess's picture
Apr. 9, 2010 11:43 pm

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.”

Liberty-Pac's picture
Jul. 7, 2011 10:55 pm

Walter E. Williams - States' Rights and Nullification


Liberty-Pac's picture
Jul. 7, 2011 10:55 pm

Gee mdhess you kind of shot your own argument in the foot by quoting mdhess' argument that IS without merit and, well...pointless.

Can Fully Informed Juries Help Cannabis Prohibition?

"We the People are the rightful master of both congress and the courts - not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." Abraham Lincoln

Jury Nullification

"unreviewable and irreversible power [of the jury] to acquit in disregard of the instruction of the law given by the trial judge. The pages of history shine upon instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge"
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, 1972

Fully Informed Jury Association

"The Jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact"
- Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Our American Common Law

"The law itself is on trial quite as much as the case which is to be decided"
- Judge Harlan F. Stone, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1941-1946

Kochroach & Aleech...
Koch Roaches A.L.E.C. Drug Detention Centers

"In a civilised society, it is the duty of all citizens to obey just laws.
But at the same time it is the duty of all citizens to disobey unjust laws."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Juries: Just Say No

The trial was a joke from the start. Because Rosenthal was being tried under federal law, not California's, the judge forbade any discussion of the Golden State's medical marijuana statute or the fact that Rosenthal was growing the pot with the special sanction of the city of Oakland. As a result, the jury was not allowed to consider any such information.

With no possible defense left, Rosenthal's attorney, Robert Eye, made what the Sacramento Bee called "a thinly veiled plea for jury nullification."

"Please do justice," he said. "We don't ask you to check your common sense of justice at the door when you judge this case. I can only hope there are those of you whose sense of justice …"

Jumping on Eye, the judge interrupted and told the jury, "It's not your determination whether a law is just or unjust. That can't be your task." Going further, according to jurywoman Marney Craig, the judge instructed, "You cannot substitute your sense of justice … for your duty to follow the law."

The judge is wrong.

"If the jury feels the law is unjust," according to the Fourth Circuit in the 1969 case U.S. v. Moylan, "we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence. … If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust … the jury has the power to acquit …"

It's too bad the judge lied to the jury before it found Rosenthal guilty. Had they known better, the jurors may have felt free to follow their own conscience and sense of justice and thus spared an innocent man from a travesty.

Sister Somaya Kambui

It took this diverse jury of her peers just three hours to deliberate. When they returned with their verdict, the judge commended the audience for their comportment during the trial, and asked them to refrain from reacting to what they were about to hear. Then the charges were listed. Fifteen times, the forewoman repeated the words, "Not guilty." Sister Somaya was acquitted on all counts.

Although police testified that Ms. Kambui had 200 pounds of marijuana growing in her South Los Angeles back yard - which apparently included the dirt on the roots when the plants were pulled out of the ground - a jury acquitted her on five counts Monday. Also seized were six pounds of marijuana in large glasses, an additional 13 pounds in packaging, 34 marijuana cookies, 32 small brown vials of hash oil, and a pot on the stove with three liters of oil.

It turned out that it wasn't the "People vs. Sister Somaya Kambui" after all, but the people standing with her in the interests of justice, compassion, and freedom.

Judge finds ‘increasing’ difficulty in seating marijuana juries

End of outdoor pot grows in Madera County
Is Madera that wealthy they can toss away taxes on law suits so obvious I shudder to think that your cops actually carry loaded weapons. Get over it. NO county, cop or politician can over ride a state proposition. Individuals can grow 99 plants without Federal intervention due to the fact half will be uprooted to prevent pollination. This amount is what an individual patient could consume without effecting the Commerce Clause. Prop 215 states anyone for any reason, with or without an id card or doctors prescription. How hard is it to conceive that this initiative was to keep Americans out of jail for using cannabis. Something any American should understand. How ugly are those still trying to persecute non violent users. Especially when they're sick. Keep cops out of the medicine cabinet.

Note. Compassionate Use Act not the MMJ Act

Is The DEA Legalizing THC?

"Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy ... and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with 'scientific support' ... fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. ... The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents."
-- William F. Buckley,
Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

Juror Dismissed “For Handing Out Constitutional Propaganda”

This "Citizens' Rulebook" also contained "unattributed quotes, such as 'The only power the judge has over the jury is their Ignorance!' and 'One juror can stop tyranny with a "Not guilty vote!"'" reported Aspen Daily News Staff Writer Rick Carroll.

Why Do You Think They Call it DOPE?

"The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts"
- Samuel Chase, US Supreme Court Chief Justice 1796

Erowid Freedom Vault : Jury Nullification

Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of law.
Calvin Coolidge, to the Massachusetts State Senate

In Jury Rooms, Form of Civil Protest Grows — Washington Post

"Jury nullification" means that a jury finds a defendant innocent because the law itself is unjust, or is unjust in a particular application, and so should not be applied.

Jury Nullification and the Rule of Law

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man,
by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."
Thomas Jefferson

DdC's picture
Mar. 22, 2012 1:39 am

Wow! Since as you say the states preceded the Union and the Declaration of Independence speaks of “free and independent states” that “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do”, does that mean one state can actually declare war on another?

Unfortunately for your argument, the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land, the Constitution is, and while the various States may have "preceded" the Union, the Union superceded the States.

In addition, there were only 13 colonies which became the original States. After that all of the States were created under the Constitution and are bound by the terms and conditions of joining the Union (i.e., recognizing the authority of the federal government). And the last time I checked the Constitution does not contain any provision for States to nullify decisions of the federal government (please spare me the "rights reserved to the states's arguments").

Finally, nullification as regards everyday jury trials presents an interesting argument, but is not exactly the same thing as nullification re the issue of state's rights v. the federal government.

Historically the nullification argument re state's rights was primarily an attempt used by one group of people (i.e., slave owners) to continue to oppress another group of people (i.e., the slaves). Of course, previous to that the question of nullification had come up in regards to the extent of the federal government's authority (i.e., tariffs). (However, although strong emotions came into play on both sides of that argument, it is unlikely that it would have ever resulted in a civil war.)

On the other hand, nullification when used in the context of a criminal trial (with a jury) is primarily an attempt to overcome oppression, not enforce it. At least, I have never heard of the nullification argument being used to persuade a jury to find someone guilty despite what the law says (i.e., that the prosecutor must establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, otherwise a verdict of "not guilty" must be returned).

Gary the Gun Nut
Feb. 3, 2013 3:16 pm

There's a 1 in 20 Chance of the Apocalypse. Shouldn't We Act Now?

A new study published in Science argues that we as a civilization need to move "rapidly" -- as in almost immediately -- towards a carbon emissions free future if we are to have any chance of holding off runaway global warming:

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