According to the prolific Albuquerque Journal columnist Winthrop Quigley, the concept of “nullification” (or re-assertion of the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution) is a terrible idea. He wrote about this in the Business Outlook section of Monday’s paper and the link can be found here if you subscribe or have a password. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with writers who disagree with the Rio Grande Foundation, few actual arguments are ever rendered. Quigley offers only one “If anything can be nullified for any reason, the law is no longer the law.”
I guess that is an argument. So, Mr. Quigley, what about Rosa Parks? Are we all supposed to “just follow the law” no matter how morally repugnant and egregious it may be? Specifically, Quiqley mentions an Ohio resolution that will appear on the ballot to “prohibit any law, including a federal law, from requiring Ohioans to participate in any health plan.” Surely, the creation of a federal health plan is well beyond the scope of the US Constitution. The Founding Fathers, being wise (although imperfect) men, intuitively understood that positive rights don’t exist. I may have the right to walk down the street unmolested, but I don’t have the right to steal a woman’s purse no matter what good I may plan to do with the money I steal. I also don’t have the right to demand health care, housing, clothing, or any other material good from society. After all, what gives me the right to put a gun (even if it is a gun held by a government official) to the head of my doctor or nurse and say “treat me or else!”
So, this all circles back to Quigley, nullification, and the 10th amendment. It all boils down to who has the moral high ground. The South attempted to use nullification in their attempt to preserve the morally repugnant institution of slavery, but if some states attempt to use the same Constitutionally-correct arguments to preserve individual rights that are today being threatened by unchecked federal power, then I find no fault with those efforts.