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Friday, December 25, 2015

Nullification: An American Tradition

There are people who get upset because juries have the ability, nay the right, to refuse to convict someone of the violation of a law if that jury decides the law is stupid. This fact drives prosecutors crazy. Judges insist it isn't legal, although in practice, there is very little they can do about it. It is called "jury nullification" and any jury in the United States can do it.
John Adams didn’t mince words about the jury’s purpose in 1771 when he said “it is not only [a juror’s] right, but his duty… to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
Similarly, states can not only refuse to enforce federal laws, states can even pass laws that directly contradict or overturn federal law. The feds can yammer all they want, but unless they want to send in troops, the feds can't do much to prevent it. This is also "nullification". It is in complete accordance with the Constitution via the Bill of Rights, Tenth Amendment. As even SCOTUS justices admit, there is absolutely nothing in any of the above ideas which violates the principles laid down by the Founding Fathers.
"The approach is on sound legal footing, with notable Supreme Court opinions backing the view that the federal government cannot require a state to expend manpower or resources in the enforcement of a federal act. The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone. In it, Justice Scalia held:
'The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.' "
We have been doing this for 200 years. Whenever there is a law people don't like, they just don't enforce it (the legal term is "desuetude"). Thus, even though someone technically SHOULD be arrested, no one actually DOES get arrested when a woman wears pants in Tuscon. 

Look, we don't actually live in a nation of laws. That ended forty years ago, when we started killing babies and selling their parts. Anymore, we just pretend. Any citizen, any jury member, any state, can do whatever s/he/it likes, and apart from starting a civil war, no one can do anything about it.

So, when people tell us we have to follow an immoral federal law, we can laugh in their faces. Screw the Feds. They stopped working for us a long, long time ago.

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