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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Is Obama Embracing His Own Form of Nullification?

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Posted at RightWisconsin.com

Is it time for me to recant? Earlier this year, I was highly critical of conservatives who embraced a strategy of "nullification" of federal laws they disliked, including Obamacare:
 
The legislators also went all 19th Century on us by embracing the principle of "nullification" an idea that has enjoyed pretty much complete obscurity since the U.S. Civil war. (The idea, repeatedly rejected by the courts, is that states can nullify federal laws they deem unconstitutional.
 
Reported the Journal Sentinel:
 
"Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is one of the nine from Wisconsin who told the Campaign for Liberty he would back legislation to declare Obamacare illegal and allow police to arrest federal officials who take steps to implement it in Wisconsin. He said he believes the health care law is unconstitutional, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that it passes constitutional muster."
 
Suffice it to say that his position is, to quote our own Bob Uecker... "juuuust a bit outside...."
 
The problem here, of course, is that it is one thing to oppose the implementation of Obamacare state exchanges and quite another thing to begin channeling your inner John C. Calhoun and embrace the rhetoric of the 1830s. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a less effective way to make the case for opposition to an overweening federal government than to adopt positions that fit every caricature of the retrograde right the left/media could ever imagine. As if this were not bad enough, there was also some buzz about secession, despite the fact that we fought a war over that, which as you might recall ended badly for the advocates. 
 
 Conservatives need to be aware of the optics. And here, they could hardly have been worse.
 
Despite my charge that it constituted a form of crackpotism, the movement has gained traction in state legislatures around the country. 
 
But in light of the Obama Administration’s decision to ignore whole swaths of its own law, the question arises: is Obama "nullifying" his own laws? And, if he is: how is that fundamentally different from states also picking and choosing what laws they will obey, and which ones they will ignore?
 
Of course, there are differences (including the talk about arrest), but when the federal government arbitrarily decides which laws it will enforce, does that change the dynamic for states also deciding which laws they will enforce? (For the record, I'm not recanting, but I do think the questions are provocative, which is why I'm asking them.)
 
Along these lines, Cato’s Michael F. Cannon provides some helpful clarification, in this piece: "Yes, Delaying Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Is Illegal"

Read the rest here.

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