Nullification and the Founding Vision of Federalism

The following is an excerpt from a Speech by Tenth Amendment Center national communications director and author of “Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty” Mike Maharrey

Portrait of 4th president of the United States...

When you mention nullification, most people immediately think it’s all about slavery and the Civil War. But the principles date back long before that; all the way back to 1798. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson first formally articulated the idea in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts. However, the principle actually finds its roots in the very structure of our government. Therefore, to grasp the legitimacy of nullification, we have to go back and look at the ratification of the Constitution itself.When the delegates met in Philadelphia to hammer out a new structure for the Union, many delegates hoped for a strong, centralized national government. James Madison pushed for a federal veto over every state law throughout much of the convention. Nevertheless, as time wore on, all of the proposals centralizing power in the general government were voted down.

The Constitution that emerged from the Philadelphia convention created a general government with specific, enumerated powers.The people of America simply were not going to adopt a form of government centralizing power at the top. They wanted to ensure that most of the political power remained at the local state level. As proponents of the new Constitution began selling it to the people of the states, they went to great lengths to allay fears that the new government would become too powerful and crush the sovereignty of the individual states.

Read the rest via Nullification and the Founding Vision of Federalism | Tenth Amendment Center.

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