nullification

Larry Pratt: States Should Arrest Federal Agents Enforcing Gun Laws

Gun Owners of America’s executive director, Larry Pratt, commended states that have passed laws “nullifying” federal gun regulations, saying that states should arrest federal agents enforcing gun laws that they think violate the Second Amendment, just as they should have ignored the Fugitive Slave Act to arrest slave-catchers coming into northern states.

In an interview on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program on August 4, Pratt fielded a question from a caller who asked what Americans can do “when the man in the Oval Office lacks competence” and is possibly “borderline insane” like “Nero, Hitler and Mao Zedong.”

The answer, Pratt said, was nullification.

“We’re blessed in this country that we do still have something left of our federal system,” he responded. “And there are a number of states that have passed laws in one area or another that have told the feds, ‘Don’t stick your nose in here.’ And, in fact, in some of the cases, and I’m thinking of Kansas particularly, if they find that you’re involved in unconstitutional activity regarding the Second Amendment in Kansas, they’ll arrest you. And that’s the way it should be.

“That’s what states did in the run-up to the War Between the States. Many of the northern states, I remember specifically Wisconsin enacted legislation that led to the arrest of a slave-catcher who had pursued a slave into Wisconsin, and they nailed him and they put him in jail.”

Richard Mack Suggests States 'Nullify Federal Income Tax,' Hopes Process Will Remain 'Peaceful'

Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff who now heads a group that promotes “nullification” of federal laws at the state and county levels, suggested at an event in Tempe last week that states threaten to “nullify federal income tax” in order to stop money from going to the federal government. He added that he hoped the process of states “tak[ing] back” the 10th Amendment would remain “peaceful.”

Mack made the remarks at an event dedicated to opposing a proposed constitutional convention, which also featured Republican State Senate President Andy Biggs and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who used the opportunity to call for Sen. John McCain to be hung for treason

“There isn’t anything that’s going on in our country today that the states can’t stop,” Mack said, encouraging states and counties to refuse to take federal funds and refuse to direct money to the federal government.

“And even spending,” he said. “You want to balance the budget? Get the governors together and the state legislatures together and tell them, ‘This is how it’s going to be from now on, we’re not going to send you this and we’re not taking this, we’re not going to do this, and we might even tell the citizens, we might even pass a law in Arizona to nullify federal income tax.’ That would be courageous, wouldn’t that? It would also be a lot of fun.”

“Who asserts the 10th Amendment? Who has the constitutional and moral and ethical obligation to enforce the 10th Amendment? Is that the federal government’s job? They’re destroying it. Who’s going to stand and enforce and defend the 10th Amendment? It’s us,” he said later in his talk. “We retain everything else that’s not given to them. If we don’t hold onto it, and we’ve allowed them to take it, we have to take it back. And hopefully we have the courage and the smarts and the wherewithal to keep this process peaceful. And if we get a lot of people doing it, and a lot of states doing it, and a lot of governors doing it, and a lot of sheriffs doing it, and a lot of counties doing it, it will remain peaceful. And that’s why my whole thing has been, we take back America county by county and state by state.”

Mack is currently leading an effort to stage a political takeover of an Arizona county to implement his radical nullification agenda.

Larry Pratt Hopes Obama Learns From Example Of Executed King

On his “Gun Owners News Hour” program in March, Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt invited Christian reconstructionist activist Joel McDurmon to discuss is work republishing a book from the 1920s on the role of pastors and “biblical law” in the founding of America.

This led to a discussion of how, in McDurmon’s words, President Obama along with “the entirety of Congress and the Supreme Court justices” are all “lawbreakers” because “they all operate outside the law to different degrees,” just like the English monarchy before the American Revolution.

McDurmon then brought up a colonial sermon citing the example of Charles I, who was executed for treason in 1649, as justification for regicide. This reminded Pratt of a speech by Patrick Henry against King George that made a similar point in justifying the killing of tyrants, which he said would provide a useful lesson to President Obama.

“Well, I like the way Patrick Henry finessed the question of regicide, of tyrannicide,” he said, “and he then pointed, I think it might have been to Charles I, and he was likening the current king and situation to that. And there were cries of, ‘Treason! Treason!’ And he had a pregnant pause, and then he said, ‘And may he learn from his example.’”

“But yes, might he learn!” he continued. “Might Barack Hussein Obama learn. Might they all learn. They live in a world of limits. They are not men without limits, and that’s something that I think astonishes some of our rulers. They really think, because as the president has said, ‘I have a pen and I have a phone,’ they think he can do any bloody thing he wants. Well, we’ll see about that.”

Later in the program, Pratt praised so-called “constitutional sheriffs” — who believe they have the power to arrest federal officials who are enforcing laws they believe violate the Constitution — and legislatures like that of Kansas that have passed laws “nullifying” federal laws they don’t like. These politicians, he said, are carrying on the spirit of the American revolution.


“You’ve got sheriffs who understand constitutional government and understand their role,” he said, “you’ve got the state of Kansas, which has passed legislation warning the feds that if they come in and try to do something unconstitutional to enforce some of their gun laws, the folks that try that will be charged with a crime. Obviously they will be detained and not permitted to continue that kind of illegal and unconstitutional action."

“That, I’m sure, is greeted with disdain in the proper parts of Washington, D.C., New York City and so forth, but frankly I think the folks in Kansas are serious as a heart attack, I think these constitutional sheriffs would without question make an arrest if they saw something unconstitutional that was oppressing one of the citizens of their county, and that’s the kind of spirit that we saw at the time of this period leading up to the war for American independence. It may not be dead yet in this country, the spirit that brought us from the New England pulpit, it may well be beginning to raise its head again, beginning to articulate itself again.”

GOP Lawmaker Hopes To Put Utah Constitution Ahead Of U.S. Constitution

Yesterday, Utah’s Republican-led House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved a measure to rewrite the oaths taken by state officials by “amending the language to put the Utah Constitution ahead of the U.S. Constitution in the oath.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that state Rep. Brian Greene led the fight to “change the oath of office and require elected officials to swear to defend Utah's Constitution first, ahead of the U.S. Constitution.” Greene insisted that he wanted the oath to reflect “our duty as state legislators to first and foremost uphold the Constitution and make sure the federal Constitution does not run roughshod over the state Constitution.”

Greene, who recently raised eyebrows with his suggestion that a married man who has sex with his wife while she is unconscious should not be charged with rape, says on his website that he wants to amend the U.S. Constitution with a Countermand Amendment to allow states to nullify federal laws they don’t like and effectively overturn the Supremacy Clause.

The Republican lawmaker has also tried to give local sheriffs the authority to arrest federal officials for enforcing gun laws.

The state House and Senate must approve the measure with a two-thirds majority in order to put the constitutional change up for a statewide referendum.

HT RWW reader Elaine.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Hobnobs With Radical Nullificationists

Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times has come across an intriguing Facebook invitation for an event tomorrow in Scottsdale, featuring nullificationist sheriff Richard Mack, anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon….and Arizona’s current attorney general, Tom Horne.

Horne’s staff has confirmed to the New Times that the attorney general will be attending the “Liberty on Tap” event, so we can move on to questioning why Arizona’s top law enforcement officer will be attending an event that appears to promote the radical belief that the county sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the nation and has the power to ignore federal laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and to arrest federal law enforcement officers.

The invitation for the event notes that Horne will “talk on the concept of the Constitutional County Project.” This project seems to be a small effort to get nullificationists to take over one county in each state to run a system that ignores federal and state laws that they deem to be unconstitutional. The project is honing in on Navajo County, Arizona, which they hope to turn into “a self-sustainable county dedicated to advancing the proper role of Constitutional government, free market principles, and the defense of ‘life, liberty, and property.’”

In a radio interview in June, Mack discussed the Constitutional County Project, whose leaders he said he had met with, saying, "we have got to be able to sacrifice and move to where we can be united and take over a county politically."

Mack was a prominent presence at the Bundy ranch during the militia standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in April and is a regular at anti-government events. He leads the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association, which promotes the idea of the sheriffs as the supreme law enforcement officers.

Cliven Bundy repeatedly said he didn’t recognize the authority of the federal government over the federally subsidized public land on which he grazed his cattle and urged the sheriff to arrest federal law enforcement officers.

GOP Obstruction Leads to Supreme Court Ruling on Recess Appointments

Today's Supreme Court ruling on recess appointments case came about only as a result of the GOP's campaign of obstruction and nullification.
PFAW

Utah Man Starving Himself To Stop Same-Sex Marriages

Right-wing advocates of “nullification” say it is a principle by which state and county officials can simply ignore federal laws and court rulings they consider unconstitutional.  A Utah man who believes a federal judge acted unconstitutionally in ordering officials to permit same-sex marriage in the state has been fasting since December 21, he says, and will keep doing so until state officials refuse to obey the federal judge.  He invokes the founding fathers in his call for nullification.

In an interview posted today on the Cultural Hall website, Meacham said it is “completely pointless” for state officials to go through the courts because they are “packed full of activist judges that don’t listen to the constitution.” He has urged state officials and county clerks to defy the order. He told an interviewer he is emulating Gandhi, and said he is willing to sacrifice his life for the cause.

Trestin Meacham is a libertarian-leaning Navy veteran who ran for the state senate in 2012 as a candidate for the far-right Constitution Party, which promotes biblical law. His online bio from Project Vote Smart doesn’t have much more information other than that he is a small business owner and Mormon, while his personal Facebook page describes his politics as “Anti-Marxist Secessionist.” (It lists joking pop culture references for his work and education.)

As a candidate he was described as a conservative blogger, though some of his blogs appear to be defunct. In his writings and postings he has demonstrated a commitment to the Tea Party’s notion that much of what the federal government does violates the Tenth Amendment. As a candidate, he argued:

For over a hundred years we have been drifting further and further from the government designed by our founders, to something more closely resembling the writings of Karl Marx …

It is the duty of the State Legislatures to stand up to the federal government and take back our God-given right of self-government laid out in the Constitution. Washington is not going to reform itself. Even if we had Ronald Reagan as President, with control of both houses of Congress, it would still be heading down the wrong path. Washington is too corrupt; it will not relinquish its unconstitutional power. Reform can only come from an outside source, that source is the states.

As a State Senator, I will oppose any further unconstitutional power grabs from Washington. I will also sponsor and support legislation, which takes back the states rightful power from our corrupt federal government.

Meacham claims federal courts decisions on gay marriage will lead to tyranny, ultimately forcing churches and LDS to officiate same-sex weddings:

I think an attack on freedom, an attack on the Constitution, affects everybody.  If a fed judge can throw out the Constitution and the will of the people then we’re really little better off than a Soviet satellite nation. Our freedom means nothing. They can do anything if they can do this.

In a 2011 comment on a story on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, he wrote, “Our schools have always been places for socialist indoctrinations. The public school system is the tenth plank of the Communist Manifesto.” An old YouTube channel apparently created while he was serving in Korea includes birther material.

Meacham has linked to right-wing sources online promoting nullification. In today’s interview he also appealed to the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, quoting Joseph Smith saying that saints should not follow any law that violates the Constitution.

Meacham has a blog devoted to his fast / hunger strike as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The blog Meacham created to promote his fast appears to be built on the same platform as a fictional country, Kherutistan, that Meacham seems to be constructing online, complete with its own Declaration of Independence and flag. Kherutistan is a libertarian paradise, a “heroarchy” led by people of good character where the basic ground rule of living is for people to be excellent to one another.

McConnell to Participate in Recess Appointments Case

The Roberts Court will let the GOP leader participate in oral arguments in a constitutional case that his party's obstruction engendered.
PFAW

Larry Pratt Presents 'Nullifier of the Year' Award to Sheriff Who Warned of Gun Control 'Bloodbath'

Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt is a big fan of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group of Tenther county sheriffs who have declared that they answer directly to the Constitution (or their interpretation of it), rather than to the federal government. Unsurprisingly, the organization and the movement it represents have grown substantially during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Pratt often praises the Constitutional Sheriffs in his speeches, and was a guest of honor at their annual convention last week, where he presented the “High Noon Award” to the Milwaukee County Sheriff who took out an ad urging people to arm themselves rather than calling 911. Pratt also presented the “Nullifier of the Year” award to Sheriff Denny Peyman of Jackson County, Kentucky, who has announced that he will not enforce federal gun laws in his county, warning that there would be a “bloodbath in our community when they come in to take guns.”

Pratt himself summed up the gist of the Constitutional Sheriffs movement when he told WND:

There is a misconception in our time that the court somehow is the arbiter of what is constitutional; that’s not true! Every official that raises their right hand and says they’re going to adhere to the constitution, seek to protect it to the best of their ability, ‘so help me God’ – that’s something that they’re all obligated to do.

The nullification movement is growing in popularity in conservative state legislatures – for instance, Kansas has passed a law declaring that "Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas."

The nullification concept dates back to South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun, who argued that if the federal government did not allow a southern states to “nullify” an 1828 tariff act, they would be within their rights to secede from the Union. Historian Cody Carlson explains, “The unspoken fear, of course, was that if the federal government could levy a tariff to profoundly alter the economy of the South, was the institution of slavery safe from federal interference? Could not the North, in the guise of instituting new economic policies, virtually prohibit slavery?”

David Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, via Steve Benen, explains why nullification has long been discredited:

Nullification was a 19th century theory, identified most closely with South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, based on the notion that the states created the Constitution and retained the power to determine whether the federal government complied with limitations on its power. This theory has been universally rejected throughout the course of American history by the courts as inconsistent with the Constitution. As the Constitution's preamble makes clear, 'We the People,' not the states, 'ordain[ed] and establish[ed] th[e] Constitution.'

The Constitution's Supremacy Clause provides that federal law is the 'supreme Law of the Land,' and Article III of the Constitution gives to the federal judiciary the power to decide "all cases arising under the Constitution.' States, thus, cannot simply declare that the acts of the federal government are null and void. But, despite the rock-solid arguments against nullification, state governments continue to press the idea that they have the power to treat certain federal laws as null and void. These arguments, while not new, have no basis in the Constitution."

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