Nullify This! (or how a real patriot would act), Part II




A question we should all ask ourselves

The common perception of most people that I have come in contact with is that being called to serve on jury duty requires you dispense punishment in accordance with the will of the state.   What you are sometimes not told is that you, as an independent juror,  are not bound to carry out the wishes of the judge or the state.    If you believe that the law is being unjustly applied in a case because you feel that the law according to your understanding is wrong and unconstitutional or if the government’s case is an overreach of their power,  you can vote to acquit.   This is called jury nullification.  I don’t claim to be a legal scholar or an attorney.  From my understanding of the definition of jury nullification and looking at the actions of the jury pool in the Montana pot case,  you could cite this case as a real life example.

In addition,  state governments also have the right to nullify any federal law(s) that they believe are an overreach of Federal government’s power and unconstitutional.   Proposition 19 was an example of state nullification where a group of citizens wrote up a ballot initiative to express their disapproval of the current Federal drug laws surrounding marijuana.   While Prop 19 lost at the polls this past November,  the national dialogue about bringing an end to 70+ years of drug prohibition (a policy endorsed by Harry J. Anslinger and rubber stamped by Franklin D. Roosevelt,  the latter revered as a “hero” by many living Democrats) has grown immensly in the past few years.

We have also seen the theory of nullification in action with several states refusing to comply with the recently passed health care reform law, aka Obamacare by its strident opponents including yours truly.  There is a bill in New Jersey legislature that is seeking to nullify the actions of the TSA regarding their invasive searches of airline passengers.  A lot of the pooh-poohers of nullification will conjure up unsavory images of our nation’s dark eras and say how state nullification of laws is right up there with preserving deplorable institutions of the past or present.   Some people on the left will bring up images of segregation and Bull Connor spraying African Americans  and civil rights leaders with firehoses or of the Columbine High School massacure while people on the right will bring up images of terrorist acts like 9/11 and images of Osama bin Laden.

What does Bull Connor getting happy with a firehose or the 9/11 terrorist acts have to do with a state or a people expressing their disapproval of current overreaching Federal legislation regarding health care, drug laws or preserving basic civil liberties as defined by our Constitution?   Could it be possible that the Federal government is wrong in these specific cases and that bringing up these unrelated cases is nothing more than mere smoke and mirrors to stifle intelligent and rational discussion on how flawed and wrongheaded some of these current policies are?   Should the 50 states just be meek and compliant to the will of the Federal government at all times?

Some would say, “the law is the law…end of discussion!  Shut up!  You’re being a traitor/Al-Qaeda sympathizer/neo-Nazi/an enabler of beastiality.  Sedition!  Sedition!”   But what if you believe that the laws being applied are wrong, immoral and unconstitutional?  What do you say then?   Gee, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are smarter than I.  I  should just bend over and take it up the ass.  Or do you, in the words of Jimney Cricket,  stand up, speak out and “let your conscience be your guide?”   Until people from the left and right can break themselves from the co-dependent mindset of “my country/party, right or wrong,”  we will become compliant like the domestic abuse victim who gets beaten over and over by their physically and verbally abusive spouse and is afraid to speak out against the abuse and abuser(s).

The way I see it,  we, the people,  are already there and have let fear of reprisal and retaliation instead of our consciences become our guides.   All because we want to be a part of “The Get Along Gang” or hold on to that Pollyanna like illusion of hope that maybe these stubborn people will see things are way.   So taking that self-defeatist/self loathing approach, we convince ourselves to stay in that abusive relationship.  That fantasy ending happens in the Wonderful World of Walt Disney, an afterschool special or a Care Bears or Veggie Tales cartoon.  The last time I checked,  there were no cartoon cels, scripts or movie cameras on this set of real life.

The most patriotic thing we can do as Americans is to stand up to our government and say enough is enough when we believe that they are stepping over their boundaries.   To their credit,  the Tea Party movement did this and succeeded in helping the Republicans take back the House in the 2010 midterm elections.  So did the abolitionist movement back in the 19th century and their influence brought about the end of slavery.   Likewise with the state of New York in the 1920s refusing to comply with the Federal alcohol prohibition policies and helping bring an end to national Prohibition.

Looking at the Montana pot case, Prop 19 and the current legislation from various states to not comply with the recently passed ”health care reform,”  jury and state nullification of Federal laws is a healthy extension of the Constitutional checks and balances that many on this blog claim to revere.  It is a practice that we need to keep in place if we are to remain a healthy republic, democracy or whatever you want to call what we have here (I believe it’s a corporatist tyrannical clusterfuck with an aiding and abeting duopoly disguised as government).  If we don’t keep our government in check, we will be destined to get the government we deserve while our freedoms get thrown into the trashbin of history.

Some links for your amusement on nullification and the Montana pot case:

Summary of the Montana pot case from a libertarian point of view:

Website for the Fully Informed Jury Association, supporters of jury nullification

Website of Thomas E. Woods, Jr. author of “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century” and a explanation of state nullification.

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