“Nullification, in United States constitutional history, is a legal theory that a state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal laws which that state has deemed unconstitutional with respect to the United States Constitution(as opposed to the state’s own constitution). The theory of nullification has never been legally upheld by federal courts.”
Recent arguments before the Supreme Court and the judges’ comments leads one to believe that if the Court does not overturn Roe v. Wade entirely, that as a “compromise” it will rule that states, like Mississippi, have the right to make their own laws as relates to abortion. Some states have already passed “trigger” laws that will severely restrict abortion if the court rules against
Roe. If the court chooses to “compromise” and push the issue back down to the states, then we will have 50 different laws as pertains to abortion. This will result in an unwieldy mess with some states all but prohibiting abortion, while others will maintain more liberal access.
Regardless how one feels about abortion, I raise the issue of nullification. When Southern states tried to succeed from the Union in the mid-1800s, Lincoln said no, the Union must be preserved, and accordingly hold dominion over state laws. A Civil War ensued. One would think the matter settled, but apparently not.
Another question is raised: If the Supreme Court can push what has heretofore been a fundamental right back down to the states, where does it end? I’ve heard that the Bill of Rights is a statement of what the majority can never do to a minority. What about other fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution: for example, speech, religion, and the right to bear arms? Could those be pushed back to the states? Could they be nullified? If so, we no longer have a United States of America, but rather 50 different fiefdoms that set their own rules, with fundamental differences between them. So much for the Union.
Pundits are ringing alarm bells about the demise of our democracy. They point to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Time will tell how the Supremes eventually rule, but if they “compromise” and push the issue back down to the states, then that could be the beginning of the dissolution of our republic. In other words, nullification.