Folks everywhere agree that the federal government has grown too large and too powerful. D.C. legislates on issues only the states should control, stealing decision-making power from the states and the people. But folks do not agree how to solve this problem.
One popular remedy is nullification. Using nullification, states refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws. Though it sounds straightforward, nullification poses legal and practical challenges that make it virtually unusable. In a recent article, Tim Baldwin of the Liberty Defense League explains why a Convention of States is a much more effective means to limiting federal power:
“When States ‘nullify’ a federal law, history shows us that it only leads to federal litigation. A nullifier could as easily call that remedy litigation. We know laws without force are no laws at all but are only resolutions or statements. Yes, statements are necessary to express political will and change public opinion, but these statements have no effect of limiting force. Looking at the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which explain nullification’s platform, nullification was never expressly a remedy of force but only of political expression.”
“Nowhere in the Constitution does state nullification or interposition exist, just as the right of secession is not expressed in the Constitution. Thus, the argument for the existence of such a state right derives from (deductive and inductive) arguments about the implied or inherent powers of the States relative to the federal government.”
“In sharp contrast, these nullifiers claim Article V is the biggest unknown constitutional factor in our system of government, despite its having an article all to itself (not an insignificant fact).”
“The truth is, Article V is more certain than state nullification, and it is a power that should be embraced by any society capable of self-government.”
We think a Convention of States is a better strategy than nullification because it’s safer, more legitimate, and more effective. State nullification is one short step away from secession and violent conflict; a Convention of States can propose amendments without the threat of war.
Nullification does not appear in the Constitution; a Convention of States is described explicitly in Article V. And states would have to nullify thousands of laws to be effective; a Convention of States can amend the document that directly controls the federal government.