Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There are some who claim that James Madison believed in "nullification" of federal law by the states. That assertion is simply false. Here are his own words. You should note that he also points out that Thomas Jefferson did not believe in "nullification" either.

The Writings of James Madison. Edited by Gaillard Hunt.
James Madison to Nicholas P. Trist, December, 1831. Includes copy.:: memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mjmtext:@field(DOCID @lit(jm090134))

"It will not escape notice that the Judicial authority of the U. S. when overruling that of a State, is complained of as subjecting a Sovereign State, with all its rights & duties, to the will of a Court composed of not more than seven individuals. This is far from a true state of the case. The question wd. be between a single State, and the authority of a tribunal representing as many States as compose the Union.

Another circumstance to be noted is that the Nullifiers in stating their doctrine omit the particular form in which it is to be carried into execution; thereby confounding it with the extreme cases of oppression which justify a resort to the original right of resistance, a right belonging to every community, under every form of Government, consolidated as well as Federal. To view the doctrine in its true character, it must be recollected that it asserts, a right in a single State, to stop the execution of a Federal law, altho' in effect stopping the law everywhere, until a Convention of the States could be brought about by a process requiring an uncertain time; and finally in the Convention when formed a vote of 7 States, if in favor of the veto, to give it a prevalence over the vast majority of 17 States. For this preposterous & anarchical pretension there is not a shadow of countenance in the Constitn. and well that there is not; for it is certain that with such a deadly poison in it, no Constn. could be sure of lasting a year; there having scarcely been a year, since ours was formed, without a discontent in some one or other of the States which might have availed itself of the nullifying prerogative. Yet this has boldly sought a sanction under the name of Mr. Jefferson, because, in his letter to Majr Cartwright, he held out a Convention of the States, as, with us, a peaceable remedy in cases to be decided in Europe by intestine wars. Who can believe that Mr. J. referred to a Convention summoned at the pleasure of a single State, with an interregnum during its deliberations; and, above all with a rule of decision subjecting nearly ¾ to ¼. No man's creed was more opposed to such an inversion of the Repubn. order of things."

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