Referencing immigration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came out strongly against the idea of states’ rights. He inferred that the states have no recourse but to submit to federal law.
“There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is “the supreme law of the land.” I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln,” Jeff Sessions said during a recent gathering with the California Peace Officers’ Association.
However, Sessions’ words are at sharp odds with the Founding Fathers themselves, who created the United States of America in an attempt to chain down centralized power. In response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson set the record straight regarding federal supremacy in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in the early days of the Republic.
On the issue of nullification, Jefferson wrote in 1799: “That the several states who formed [the Constitution], being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and, That a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.”
Madison, the Father of the Constitution, went even further than Jefferson in 1798, saying: “…in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”
Sessions’ line of thinking is shared by liberal activist judges, who have chipped away at the Constitution and destroyed the notion of the states’ rights with their rulings throughout the years. Still, the anti-commandeering doctrine remains intact to this very day. This stops the federal government from commandeering the states to enact a regulatory program against their will.
“Whatever the outer limits of that sovereignty may be, one thing is clear: The Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in New York v. United States (1992), one of the key cases upholding the anti-commandeering doctrine.
Modern-day instances where nullification is in effect include states such as Idaho and Kansas that have fully nullified federal gun control as well as states like Alaska, Washington, Colorado, California, and several others that have legalized marijuana against the wishes of the feds. Those instances fly in the face of Sessions’ claim that the federal government is supreme over the states, a notion that the Founding Fathers would have clearly rejected.