"Risky business defying the law"
"Risky business defying the law" - NO to "NULLIFICATION"!
Commendation and gratitude to WILLIAM BARTH, Editor of The Beloit Daily News for his incisive and poignant editorial published last Saturday, “Risky business defying the law.”
Demonstrating keen awareness of our US history, Editor Barth puts on the table a very critical issue raised again with the actions of Gov. Scott Walker of WI and other GOP Governors – NULLIFICATION! Just say, "NO!" to NULLIFICATION!
issue raised again with the actions of Gov. Scott Walker of WI and other GOP Governors – NULLIFICATION!
For an informative and credible source online, I suggest the Wikipedia feature article, “Nullification (U.S. Constitution) and the specific crisis of 1832 when South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, “Nullification Crisis.”
Readers need to realize that WI picked up on the NULLIFICATION theory in its response to the Fugitive Slave Law.
In fact, in 1854, our WI Supreme Court became the only state high court to declare the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional. Ultimately, in 1859 in Ableman v. Booth the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the state court.
The courts have never given legality to the theory/concept of “nullification.”
Helpful to review Editor Barth’s editorial as he discusses the responses to the US Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold the core of the Affordable Care Act – aka ObamaCare. He asserts that the reaction from some corners of our country has been “SHOCKING.”
He noted, “Across the country, Republican governors essentially said they will not move forward at all and will continue to resist requirements of the law.”
His discussion focuses on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “…months ago ordered the government to stop all work on implementing the act, saying he would wait until the Supreme Court ruled. After the court’s decision Walker said he still won’t proceed in any way until after the November election, in the hope that Republican Mitt Romney unseats President Obama and the GOP takes control of the Senate to repeal the law.”
Significant that the editorial clarifies the context of its warning on the response of “nullification, “Let’s make this clear: We are not carrying water for Obama or the health care reform law. Like many Americans, we have a number of reservations about the act, starting with the individual mandate requiring everyone to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. That is an alarming extension of federal power over the people, and we were surprised a 5-4 majority of the court bought into it as constitutionally sound.”
The editorial continues, “In fairness, though, we also recognize many of the provisions contained in the law are popular with Americans — reforming the pre-existing condition exception, promoting preventive care, allowing adult children to stay longer on parents’ policies, ending lifetime caps on coverage.
“But this is what ought to raise American eyebrows, every bit as much as the intrusiveness of the individual mandate:
“This bill was legally passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. As the Constitution allows, opponents challenged the law and had their day in court. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the heart of the act. It is undeniably the law of the land.”
I agree with Editor Barth’s strong warning to WE THE PEOPLE of the US, “…the reaction of the governors echoes a dangerous chapter in American history.
“The word is ‘nullification.’” Bill Barth earns an A+ in US History as he comments, “That historical note really began with arguments at the birth of the nation, between those who wanted either a strong or weak central government, and how much authority would be reserved to the states and the people.”
He reviews the crisis of 1832, “A crisis ensued during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, over tariffs. South Carolina, whose leading voice was the eloquent and fiery John C. Calhoun, asserted that states could refuse to follow national laws, to “nullify” acts of the federal government. Eventually a compromise was found, easing tensions, for awhile.
“Subsequent decades, though, would see the states’ rights confrontation intensify, leading to constitutional crisis, secession and ultimately to the bloodbath of the Civil War.
“Despite the angry polarization in America and Wisconsin, conditions thankfully have not approached Civil War levels. And defiance by Walker and other Republican governors has not yet reached Calhoun proportions.
“Still, any refusal to abide by laws passed, signed and then upheld by the Supreme Court should give thinking Americans pause to ponder.”
STOP! I do NOT support any attitude or behavior which builds on the theory of NULLIFICATION! Do YOU?! IF so, WHY?
Editor Barth makes cogent argument that the planning process to implement provisions of the health care act should go forward, with a key federal deadline looming just days after the November election. He clarifies, “That doesn’t foreclose the repeal option, if Romney were to win and Republicans took over the Senate. (It’s worth remembering, though, that the Senate filibuster tactic used so effectively by Democrats against Bush and by Republicans against Obama remains intact, and likely would set a 60-vote bar for repeal, making that unlikely. As we’ve noted before, what can be done by you, can later be done to you.)”
While I have my own reservation as to the editorial’s statement that it was reasonable for Walker and others to wait for the Supreme Court to act, I wholeheartedly agree with the assertion, “It is not reasonable after the ruling to move the goalpost and bet not only on Romney winning, but also on Republicans capturing the Senate — especially considering the likelihood of filibuster.”
I am sending Bill Barth’s message via e-mail to Scott Walker, “Governor, if it doesn’t work out in November, then what? The law allows the federal government to take over and impose its own plan on balky states. That’s not where Wisconsin wants to end up, so let the process begin.” What do YOU think?
The editorial concludes, “Look, we are not particularly fond of ObamaCare.
“But, equally so, we cannot abide the specter of nullification.”
NO TO NULLIFICATION in word or deed!
Here we go...
John Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Waukesha and an advocate for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.