A Modern-Day Conundrum for Andrew Jackson

AJ duelWould he protect his guns or support the enforcement of constitutional laws?

Missouri senators endorsed legislation on Tuesday that seeks to nullify U.S. gun restrictions and send federal agents to jail for enforcing such laws, though the measure would likely face a court challenge if it gets approved in the state.

Courts have consistently ruled that states cannot nullify federal laws, but that hasn’t stopped Missouri and other states from trying.

Sen. Brian Nieves, the Republican sponsoring the bill, said the legislation would protect law-abiding gun owners from federal encroachments and regulations. Missouri Republicans began pushing for the legislation following President Barack Obama’s call last year for increased background checks and a ban on assault weapons. . . .

Kansas and Alaska have already passed gun nullification laws, while Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Missouri have been pushing. Nine states, led by Montana, have passed laws asserting that gunmakers in their states are exempt from federal regulations, and so they can make all the full-auto machine guns and assault weapons they want.

The real fun comes when local politicians and law enforcement officers get in the nullification game: Nearly 250 sheriffs from Oregon to California to Arizona to Minnesota have written open letters defying federal gun laws and threatening to arrest U.S. government officials working in their jurisdictions. One rural Florida sheriff even beat prosecution last fall for releasing (and destroying evidence related to) a suspect who’d illegally held a concealed weapon.

 

Even though John C. Calhoun isn’t involved, I’m still going with supporting the Constitution.

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4 Replies to “A Modern-Day Conundrum for Andrew Jackson”

  1. Gee, you’d think all of these alleged Constitution lovers would remember this little segment from Article VI: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution;<<

    I have yet to understand the basis for this belief that Second Amendment rights are so absolute. The U.S. Supreme Court has always allowed some limitations on First Amendment claims (how much depends on the applicable standard of review) and the First Amendment is absolutely unqualified in its language, unlike the Second Amendment.

    I don't agree with the Heller decision (invalidating the DC gun law) but the US Supreme Court made it clear that it was NOT saying that there was an unrestricted right for people to go around toting guns without anyone having the right to say differently to them. As Justice Scalia wrote in the Court's opinion in Heller, "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152-153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489-490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students' Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." http://laws.findlaw.com/us/000/07-290.html

    1. M.D.,
      You know as well as I do that many people prefer to believe this part of that decision doesn’t exist. I tell people about this part of that case and they look at me like I’m crazy and lying to them. Then I show them in black and white and they act like it is a hoax. They don’t want to hear it and they do not want to believe it. Talk about willful ignorance on the part of a sector of people.

      As for nullification we have a very active Tenth Amendment Center here in Missouri. They use the argument of ignorance regarding nullification. It seems that they and some others think that unless the Constitution expressly states something, it is legal. They argue that because Jefferson wrote it, it is legal while ignoring anything he wrote that they don’t like. It really comes down to that group lying to people in order to get what they want.

      We point out how several of the laws passed by the legislature were struck down by the Supreme Court while others are costing the state a lot of money in legal fees due to the massive amount of lawsuits the legislation creates. They don’t care. They have an agenda that is paid for by ALEC and other special interest groups and they play up the conservative talking points all the time. It is appalling. However, I think the Medicaid expansion issue will be their undoing as more and more people ask questions the conservatives don’t want to answer.

      1. “It seems that they and some others think that unless the Constitution expressly states something, it is legal.”

        Doesn’t that cut against the Jeffersonian states’ rights argument of strict construction?

        1. It really means they just want to do whatever they want. First of all, I’m in Missouri. Following strict construction ideas, this cannot be part of the United States. Jefferson even proposed creating an amendment so that the US could legally buy Louisiana, but Madison told him he did not have to do so as it was an implied power. That to me is the death of strict construction theory.

          I see Jefferson as a theorist who had problems taking theory and making it reality. He loved his states rights idea right up until he was president and used federal power to override state objections such as enforcing the embargo.

          Jefferson is such an interesting, complex, and contradictory man that I decided I would take the Coursera course that just started on the 17th. Peter Onuf is giving the lectures and that alone is worth my time. No cost, no credit, but certainly worth the conversation and of course Onuf’s wisdom.

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