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Nullification in a Nutshell

February 19, 2010
Patrick Krey
2/18/2010

The “Principles of 98,” as they came to be known, are rarely discussed in modern history lectures even though these are integral to understanding how our federal Constitution was intended to function. These are the principles of state interposition or nullification that assert that if the federal government fails to check itself through one of its three branches, then it would be up to the states to rein in the feds.

The main basis for the theory is that the states created the national government when they joined the compact and not the other way around. The states therefore retained the power to judge for themselves the constitutionality of federal laws and reserved the right to refuse to enforce them if they went beyond their constitutionally delegated powers. As a matter of fact, nullification was used even before the implementation of the Constitution when the Colonists nullified laws made by the British Monarchy. The concept of a state nullifying a federal law simply means that a state refuses to comply with the law or permit its enforcement within state boundaries.

The story continues …..

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