Nullification? The Experts Weigh In

Nullification? The Experts Weigh In

As I go around trying to be a Paulette Revere by discussing the possibility of using Article V to have a convention of the states, I inevitably run into friends and neighbors who have been turned against it by groups like the John Birch Society or more reputible web sites such as the Eagle Forum. Many have been convinced by groups like the Tenth Amendment Center and books by Tom Woods that nullification would be the preferable option. Even after Michael Farris debated the JBS clearing up all of their objections, I still run into people both live and on social media who try to say amending the Constitution is a scary notion. The following is an example:

Most conservatives know now that an Article V convention of the states combined with electing true conservatives, instead of the establishment GOP, is the best hope we have for restoring the Constitution and saving our country. We need to use this two part plan to bypass Congress and the overgrown federal bureaucracy. However, it occurred to me that other people who read this site might be running into the same type of comments like the example above when they speak to friends and colleagues. Therefore, I compiled some quotes about nullification from three of the leading constitutional experts in our country which hopefully can help you as you spread the word or debate people on the issue.

Professor Rob Natelson, a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute was interviewed by Tim Baldwin from Liberty Defense League:

BALDWIN: Some people believe that rather than using Article V, all we have to do is use the nullification, state nullification, to reign-back federal power. How do you respond to someone who believes that?

NATELSON: “First, nullification is what we call and “extra constitutional remedy,” that is to say it is not really under the Constitution.” You have an obligation as a society to try the Constitutional remedies before you try the extra Constitutional remedies.

The other problem is one of sheer practicality. The Federal government turns out thousands of laws a year, perhaps tens of thousands of regulations a year. In order for the states to nullify any significant number of those, enough to make a difference, the state legislatures would have to be in session constantly doing nothing but nullifying federal regulations, so we are a lot better off, I think, if we change the constitution, and make a large correction at one time rather than trying to make a lot of little, smaller corrections.

BALDWIN: If a nullification is passed, how can the state enforce that and if they could enforce it, where does it lead?

NATELSON: That’s why historically, nullification has had mixed results. It doesn’t really work that effectively. The most famous example is when South Carolina tried to nullify a tariff and Andrew Jackson essentially got authorization from Congress to send out the troops.

If you push it to the ultimate, it can lead to civil war.

Now it is true under the theory of our Constitution, under the theory of our government, revolution is the ultimate right that people have, but as Madison pointed out, there is an obligation first to use the Constitutional methods before you start going to the methods that are outside the constitution.

Transcript by

Video can be seen at Queen Of Liberty

Professor Natelson also wrote an excellent post on Madison’s definition of interposition and the broad definition of nullification. Click here to read.

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Mark Levin, author and President of Landmark Legal Foundation, said via Facebook“ James Madison and the framers were right!

In his 1830 letter, James Madison explains at length his rejection of nullification and his support for Article V. Moreover, unlike Article V, which was expressly proposed, crafted, and adopted at the Constitutional Convention, and ratified as part of the Constitution at the state ratification conventions, nullification was not. The word nullification doesn’t even appear in Madison’s notes of the Convention’s proceedings and, of course, in the Constitution itself. Article V is obviously part of the Constitution. I didn’t invent it. But I do endorse it.

There are those who are neo-confederates and part of fringe groups who seek the unraveling of the Republic. During the pre~Civil War period nullification was seen by many as a step toward secession. I reject this.

Furthermore, a republic of 50 states cannot function if one or two or ten states nullify laws they consider unconstitutional, whether those states are blue or red or what have you. It is not our purpose to reinvent the Articles of Confederation in some form but to reestablish our constitutional system, federalism and the power of the states acting collectively.

The reform amendments I propose may not be perfect but are intended to empower in most cases three-fifths of the state legislatures to act if the political will exists or compels it. This is not about a couple of states nullifying a federal statute or whatever, creating chaos and legal instability, but a significant majority of state legislatures overriding federal action. If the federal government ignores the actions of these states, the states then enforce their collective will. It’s the state legislatures that are then free to ignore, reject, or bypass federal intrusion or usurpation.”

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To learn more about an Article V Convention, read Mark Levin’s New York Times best selling book, The Liberty Amendments.
Click Here to purchase it

Click Here To Read The First Chapter of The Liberty Amendments

The Liberty Amendments

Mike Farris is a constitutional lawyer and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He is one of the leaders in the COS movement.

Farris said:

“Advocacy for nullification as a solution to a runaway federal government is about as effective as trying to stop a runaway locomotive by standing on the train track while shouting, ‘Stop train!’ There is no power in mere shouting.

The scope of the federal abuses of power makes the theory of nullification simply unworkable. Thousands of laws and regulations have been enacted using an improper interpretation of the Commerce Clause, just to consider one source of federal abuse. Nullification would require 50 separate states to nullify each and every one of these laws and regulations. Fifty states times 2,000 laws equal 100,000 laws needing to be passed—and this would be just the beginning of the needed acts of nullification. This is not going to happen and there is real reason to doubt that any nullification pronouncements would end up actually stopping the runaway locomotive of federal power. Nullification is not found in the Constitution—the Convention of States is right there in the black and white of Article V.

The Constitution gives the states real power when they act together. That is what Article V contemplates. When the states act together in a Convention of the States, they can unilaterally propose amendments that will be returned to the States for ratification. Neither Congress nor the Federal Courts can stop them. The Governor cannot stop them. The President cannot stop them. The state legislators hold all the levers of power. This is not mere shouting at the locomotive but amounts to erecting a mountain of solid granite in the train’s path. When a locomotive hits a mountain, the mountain wins.”

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I hope these fabulous quotes by legal professionals who are experts on this subject matter help all of you with your grassroots activism.

Alexis Deacon

In your car? Want to listen to my voice? Click the arrow below for the audio version of this post.


  1. William says:

    My concern with new constitutional amendments such as term limits, etc, is how you expect to enforce the more restrictive amendments when those in office don’t obey the Constitution as it stands. How do you expect to enforce the new or modified amendments on those in office? I’ve posed this question many times and have gotten no satisfactory answer. Do you just expect these usurpers to step down? They ignore the People today as well, so don’t try to say “public pressure” after passing these amendments will do the trick. They’ll just get some activist judge to declare your amendments unconstitutional. So, how do you expect to enforce new more restrictive amendments on those in office when they’ve shown they will not abide by the ones’ already in place?

    • William, first state what the options are to answer your question. The answer is easier to see then. Like it says above, first consider the Constitutional remedies already in place, which is why we chose the Art. V process. Then consider that the judicial activism referenced is a legal opinion so address the changes to those aspects of opinion that you think will be persuasive for 38 of the state legislatures. Because it always comes down to winning votes and if we cannot get enough votes to support our opinion, then we lose. We think we can get enough votes to effect some changes. The JBS seems to desire chaos and anarchy instead. The more civilized approach seems wiser to me.


  1. […] Llewellyn Harrison “Lew” Rockwell, Jr, the paleolibertarian who founded the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, publishes anti- Lincoln articles on his website, These men listed above and many of their followers have a sinister agenda of promoting secession and nullification. On many occasions I have posted legal experts opinions on why nullification is not the answer to our… […]

  2. […] Llewellyn Harrison “Lew” Rockwell, Jr, the paleolibertarian who founded the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, publishes anti- Lincoln articles on his website, These men listed above and many of their followers have a sinister agenda of promoting secession and nullification. On many occasions I have posted legal experts opinions on why nullification is not the answer to our…. […]

  3. pool shock says:

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    Nullification? The Experts Weigh In – Queen Of Liberty™

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