The current book, published earlier this year, has the potential—if enough state officials read it (and have the courage to take their responsibilities seriously)—to make a huge difference in the way the federal government and the states relate to each other by reducing the federal government’s power to its Constitutional limits.
“Nullification begins with the axiomatic point that a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all. It is void and of no effect. Nullification simply pushes this uncontroversial point a step further: if a law is unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect, it is up to the states, the parties to the federal compact, to declare it so and thus refuse to enforce it.” (p. 3)Woods points out that, contrary to popular opinion, it is not just the federal courts that have the right to sit in judgment upon the constitutionality of federal legislation. State governments do, too, and he gives many examples to show that the right of nullification was frequently invoked early in our nation’s history.
It seems to me that Woods has properly identified our best hope of successfully resisting an over-sized, out-of-control, out-of-touch federal government. Private individuals, even large grass-roots movements (like the Tea Party) will not be able to effectively limit the federal government’s power by themselves. The only effective resistance over the long term will have to come from state legislatures that properly understand their role in keeping the federal government in check.
I wish I had the power to get a copy of this book into the hands of every member of the Kansas state legislature.