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Thread: States can't legally nullify federal law.

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    States can't legally nullify federal law.

    As my thread title says, states can't legally nullify federal law. The notion that they can has probably even been thrown out by the Supreme Court. However, because the powers of the head of any government executive branch at or under the state level can be defined by the state constitution, I believe that the state legislators can amend the state constitution to prohibit enforcement of the law by local and state law enforcement officers.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Ok. So....where do we go from here?
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    Ok. So....where do we go from here?
    I'd like to have an open discussion about whether a state can legally prohibit the enforcement of federal law.

    Let me tell you something. Back in the old days, the Supreme Court made a ruling which then-President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce. The ruling was on the legality of something, but I can't recall what the ruling deemed illegal. EDIT: He could legally ignore the ruling, which I believe supports my position that states do not have to allow the enforcement of a federal law. Since the powers of local and state executive officials and law enforcement officers are presumably governed by the state constitution, state legislatures can prohibit the governor from executing a federal law, if they wish to do so.

    I should add that I am not a lawyer, and most of us probably are not, so all opinions stated here are merely opinions. If a lawyer provides his opinion, that opinion should be considered true unless and until a higher judge expresses even the slightest disagreement with that lawyer's opinion.
    Last edited by moonman239; Feb 18th, 2013 at 12:20 AM. Reason: Added some things.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I'm pretty sure it was this school of "logic" that led to the Civil War. Nullification Crisis describes this.

    I find the notion that a lawyer's opinion carries more weight than any other citizen's laughable, if not offensive.

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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    This was certainly one of the issues that led to the Civil War, and has been pretty thoroughly refuted at all levels of the courts, by now. However, every law enforcement agency can opt to not enforce certain laws, so it doesn't even take an act of the legislature to nullify some things in practice, if not in law. Additionally, if a law mandates X, then either a legislature, or an agency, can implement X in such an inept fashion that it is effectively nullified anyways. This happens all the time on issues large and small and for reasons serious, accidental, and utterly banal. That's life.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    I find the notion that a lawyer's opinion carries more weight than any other citizen's laughable, if not offensive.
    Why? I'm not saying that the opinion should automatically be considered accurate/true, but the same situation would be if topic of discussion was medical related, I'd be more inclined to trust a doctor's opinion than that of a random person.

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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I think it is best to evaluate lawyers based on the number of ambulance hubcaps they have hanging on their wall (some keep them hidden, though). I feel that this is a good indicator of their professional enthusiasm and industriousness.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by baja_yu View Post
    Why? I'm not saying that the opinion should automatically be considered accurate/true, but the same situation would be if topic of discussion was medical related, I'd be more inclined to trust a doctor's opinion than that of a random person.
    This. I know for a fact there ARE good lawyers out there. In fact, I personally know two of them.

    Anyways, we're getting off-topic, and I wanted a serious discussion.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I see there is a law that will be proposed before the Texas state legislature that makes it illegal for law enforcement officers under the state's jurisdiction to enforce the strict gun control Obama wants. http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?se...ker&id=8955929
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    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Strict?! He wants to ban automatic weaponry. That's not strict.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    We have a series of Sheriffs who have already stated that they won't enforce it, even though nothing has been passed, yet. Therefore, it doesn't even take an act of the legislature. Law enforcement can choose not to enforce some law and it is nullified unless some higher authority forces compliance on the law enforcement.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    We have a series of Sheriffs who have already stated that they won't enforce it, even though nothing has been passed, yet. Therefore, it doesn't even take an act of the legislature. Law enforcement can choose not to enforce some law and it is nullified unless some higher authority forces compliance on the law enforcement.
    This 'higher enforcement', though, is being enacted as coercion. The feds simply do not have the manpower to enforce any federal laws and almost always relies on local enforcement.

    While is seems (from a right-wing perspective) that said sheriffs are acting as the 'good guys' in this case, the reality is that it will work out bad for local enforcement - and joe public - if they start picking and choosing which federal laws they enforce. They will in reality have to enforce whatever laws roll down to them: picking and choosing will create an even bigger rift between the public and law enforcement as a whole, as it places far too much power in the hands of LE, and [further] corruption will ensue.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    Strict?! He wants to ban automatic weaponry. That's not strict.
    Automatic weaponry? Are you sure you are not confusing this with something else? Why would the federal government ban something which isn't a problem?
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    He meant assault weapons. Fully automatic weapons have been banned for civilians for a long time.

    The reason is because it is low enough hanging fruit that it might happen.

    As for the 'higher enforcement', I didn't mean the feds. I meant that the state, or the body politic (the Sheriff is an elective position out here) could require a Sheriff to uphold a certain law that said Sheriff chose not to uphold. In other words, a person can only get away with not doing something if their employer is agreeable to that. If the employer is not agreeable, they will replace the employee with somebody who will do whatever it is. In this case, I believe the Sheriffs are taking the position they are largely because they feel that their employer will want them to do so (it is only Sheriffs in very rural counties with a strong right-wing slant, so enforcing the law would likely result in the Sheriff losing the next election).
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    He meant assault weapons. Fully automatic weapons have been banned for civilians for a long time.

    ...
    Fully auto weapons are banned? I think you'll find that's a common misconception, along with silencers (suppressors).

    Edit: words mean things; when arguing cases such as this it is imperative to get the terminology correct. The fact that semi-automatic and automatic are commonly misrepresented, along with the fact that a vast swath of people think machine guns are banned indicates that there is a certain amount of misunderstanding about certain facts (putting it mildly).
    Last edited by SJWhiteley; Feb 25th, 2013 at 03:42 PM.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    ...

    As for the 'higher enforcement', I didn't mean the feds. I meant that the state, or the body politic (the Sheriff is an elective position out here) could require a Sheriff to uphold a certain law that said Sheriff chose not to uphold. In other words, a person can only get away with not doing something if their employer is agreeable to that. If the employer is not agreeable, they will replace the employee with somebody who will do whatever it is. In this case, I believe the Sheriffs are taking the position they are largely because they feel that their employer will want them to do so (it is only Sheriffs in very rural counties with a strong right-wing slant, so enforcing the law would likely result in the Sheriff losing the next election).
    But if the State actually enacts a law that does not require compliance with federal law, which is really the OPs contention (or the point in question), said sheriff is simply acting out the laws that they are required to uphold. A sheriff acting 'alone' or even within a greater body, will almost certainly not end well; a best case scenario is that the sheriff loses re-election. I do, however, see it as creating a greater divide between authority and the people and communities at all levels.

    I think Moonmans bigger question is the 'legality' of a state enacting a law which specifically nullifies a federal law. Many states hold the United States Constitution as a part of their own Constitution. If the federal government enacts a law which [clearly] violates part of that constitution - as held by the supreme court - does not a state have an obligation to uphold the constitution?

    On the validity of Supreme Court decisions, should the Supreme Court be faced with a challenge which contends that a law violates the constitution - which it has already decided that the 2nd Amendment specifically allows private ownership of military style weapons (arms) - reversing that ruling, what power does the Supreme Court have if it can make the Constitution mean what a given political body deems it to mean?

    Specifically, depending on the current political outcome, the supreme court will be faced with one or two challenges: firstly, that a banning of assault weapons (semantics aside) cannot be enacted by the federal government because the supreme court has already ruled that the constitution affords individuals the rights to said weapons; secondly, a state law which reasserts the second amendment rights, as upheld by the Supreme Court, is within the powers of the States, that a State has an obligation to the people to uphold the Constitution.

    Regardless, people will not give up those guns, or any guns. The current legislation being acted (sic) out is akin to prohibition; not a peaceful time in American history.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I wouldn't disagree with anything there. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.

    One point that I'm unclear on is this: I was under the impression that the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the rights of an individual to bear arms, but I wasn't aware that they had ruled on a right to bear a specific type of weapon such as an assault weapon (whatever that is). That ruling was a few years back, and I'm certainly fuzzy on the details, but I thought it was more generic.

    In any case, the Second Amendment is one of the most devilishly written parts of the Constitution, and the courts could easily reverse themselves, as they have already on this one. Everybody states the second half, but nobody is quite clear what to make of the first part, so they tend to leave it out. It certainly isn't convenient to those who are arguing in favor of gun rights, because it is frankly ludicrous no matter how you look at it. If you read the whole sentence to state that the reason for bearing arms is for participation in a well-regulated militia, then that doesn't give people a willy-nilly right to bear arms. They could viably be required to participate in a well-regulated militia as a requirement for bearing arms, and that would leave well-regulated and militia both up to definition by the courts or the legislatures. If, on the other hand, you feel that the first part was really just explaing why there is a right to bear arms, without adding any restriction to it, then anybody who has been awake in the last few years would realize that assualt weapons really aren't even part of the discussion. When the Constitution was written, the average farmer had a weapon that was roughly equal to the finest military hardware available to any army. A group of such could reasonably take on any military. These days, even machine guns wouldn't allow any such group to take on even a fourth rate army. Those rebelling against the crappy Libyan army were getting their arses kicked until we took out the Libyan air force and most of their armor and artillery. At the very least, if you believe that being able to threaten the government is the purpose for bearing arms, then you would have to include Stinger missles and RPGs, since no real rebellion would stand a chance without those tools, and I don't hear ANYBODY arguing for those things.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I'm always wondering why nobody ever points out that the 2nd Amendment is entirely silent on hunting and target (sport) weapon rights. In essence the only weapons sanctioned at all are those intended for a military or paramilitary purpose.

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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Shaggy, you make the point yourself regarding what 'arms' the Supreme Court has specifically defined - the 'arms' that are available to the military should not be denied from the citizenry. At the time the 2nd was authored, the best arms were available to both the military and citizenry. Why should it be different today?

    The absurd argument is that individuals should [not] be allowed tanks, howitzers, jets and so on. Well, the reality is that individuals are not denied those things necessarily, but they are most often cost prohibitive and are regulated (but not necessarily prohibited). There are certain weapons of mass destruction (missiles for example) which are generally not permitted; these are not necessarily a definition of 'arms'. The 2nd indeed the militia portion hints at what weaponry the citizen is [expected] to carry; militias are and have been historically composed of the general populace who bring their own arms to fight as a coordinated unit. There are plenty of historical documents which reinforce this notion, if one were to expand the research outside of the constitution to get a more determined hint at its meaning. In addition, the Amendments [Bill of Rights] enumerates individual rights; why should the 2nd be any different.

    As you correctly note, these 'war weapons' are not even on the table of discussion. It is the standard issue weapon that is up for discussion: indeed, it is not even that - it is merely the fact that a weapon resemble a military weapon that is being discussed. If, indeed, an armed populace with modern, but inferior, weapons be unable to stand up to a modern army, why is even considered that they should be banned because of the difference in arms now as then?

    Another word - that must be taken in historical terms - is the word 'regular' and 'regulated'. Both have been distorted today. The federal government was given the power to 'regulate' - but this historically means to make 'regular'; equal, fair and consistent, and not to control, give and take as it sees fit. We have grown accustomed to such 'regulation', but it doesn't necessarily mean that it is what the government should be doing.

    However, I would contend that, even with inferior weapons, a determined populace can oust even the most advanced army. In a protracted campaign (rather than a skirmish), a modern, armed, populace will be superior to the armaments of the army of the same country, simply through attrition.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Are you sure you are not confusing this with something else?
    He meant assault weapons
    That pretty much covered it. Just my clumsy use of words, I'm afraid. You can probably put it down to the fact that us Brits aren't as ready familiar with the terminology surrounding death dealing as you Americans are

    As I understand it Obama is proposing to ban Semi-Automatic weaponry e.g. Assult Rifles and the like. That to me hardly constitutes "strict". I could understand "strict" being applied to the banning hunting weaopns or every day self defence but assault rifles just don't fall into either category for me.

    I'm not sure I understand the argument about whether the citizenry need the ability to stand up to a modern army. Just which modern army are you thinking of? If it's a foreign invader then it would be your governments responsibility to "arm the militia" (putting aside the fact that I can't imagine any foreign invader with the capability to overcome the regular US army). If you're thinking of defending yourself against your own government then you're already stepping outside the law so argument about whther the tools you use to do so are legal or not are somewhat moot.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    The Brits, of course. Who else would we want to arm ourselves against? Any day now you are likely to sweep down out of Canada just like you did a few years ago back in....well...around 1812, and we really started that one pretty much ourselves, but revenge is a dish best served cold, and you can hardly argue that we wouldn't be caught by surprise by a British attack out of Canada these days.


    However, I would contend that, even with inferior weapons, a determined populace can oust even the most advanced army. In a protracted campaign (rather than a skirmish), a modern, armed, populace will be superior to the armaments of the army of the same country, simply through attrition.
    Only if a VERY large majority of the population is on one side. Even in Syria we are seeing that it only takes a sizable minority to allow a government to hang onto power long enough to utterly rend the fabric of a society. The rebels there will surely win, eventually, but there won't be a stable Syria again in our lifetimes (or theirs). Any group that is not a majority has no chance at all. At that point, you are just the IRA or ETA. You can keep on killing people for a long time, but do you ever get anywhere in the end?
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    ... but do you ever get anywhere in the end?
    Does this mean that resistance is futile? That's how the Brits got into their sorry state, as the pathetic Piers Morgan demonstrates.
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    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    No, resistance has several good uses. For one thing, it can produce illumination. A pity more people don't try it out, though understandable, as resistance also tends to create heat.

    However, armed resistance has had a decidedly mixed set of results over history. It appears to be effective when dealing with colonial powers, but when it is two groups that both call the place home, it seems to create so much bitterness anymore that it takes generations to overcome the lasting side effects. Perhaps it has always been thus. The US still has some discernible effects of the relatively civil US Civil War, despite the fact that all participants have long since left the scene, as have their kids.
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    you can hardly argue that we wouldn't be caught by surprise by a British attack out of Canada these days.
    Damn, they're onto us. Abort! Abort!

    Does this mean that resistance is futile?
    I think that's a really interesting question. I certainly don't think it's futile and between Shaggy's puns he hit the nail on the head with "it provides illumination". At the very least it gets people looking at the issue you're trying to highlight. Whether it effects the change you're actually resisting for is far less certain and depends on all sorts of factors.

    I think Shaggy's analysis of domestic vs colonial resistance is a bit simplistic but there's certainly a correlation there. I suspect it's actually more to do with whether foreign powers feel they can get involved and, alongside trade and security concerns, that involves whether they can see a moral injustice being perpetrated. In the case of colonial resistance the moral injustice is usually fairly clear, though not always. Nobody is seriously calling for the British to leave Gibralter, for example (well, the Spanish grumble occasionally but it's pretty half-hearted). Equally, where foreign powers see a moral injustice in a domestic circumstance (e.g. Libya) they are more inclined to get involved - as long as it doesn't interfere with their trade interests.

    In fact, the more I think about this as I type, the more I think the key criteria for success or failure is foreign intervention. I'm struggling to think of any uprising from the last 4 centuries that outright succeeded without it. Egypt, I guess. That's about it. Which probably means you can give your citizenry as many assault rifle as you like, it's not going to help them effect revolution. Unless a foreign power turns up with tanks and jets you're pretty much boned.

    What's more likely to happen is for the resister's agenda to be furthered but not fully achieved. The situation in Ireland is a good example of this. The IRA's stated goal was the English out of Ireland. They never achieved that. But they did achieve a much fairer level of representation for Republican/Catholic interests in their own government. Back before 70s their interests were barely represented at all now they have majority representation.

    edit>@Shaggy, with puns like that, I think it's time you went Ohm.
    Last edited by FunkyDexter; Feb 27th, 2013 at 04:38 AM.
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    PowerPoster SJWhiteley's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    ...
    I think that's a really interesting question. I certainly don't think it's futile and between Shaggy's puns he hit the nail on the head with "it provides illumination". At the very least it gets people looking at the issue you're trying to highlight. Whether it effects the change you're actually resisting for is far less certain and depends on all sorts of factors.

    I think Shaggy's analysis of domestic vs colonial resistance is a bit simplistic but there's certainly a correlation there. I suspect it's actually more to do with whether foreign powers feel they can get involved and, alongside trade and security concerns, that involves whether they can see a moral injustice being perpetrated. ...
    What kind of foreign intervention? As many believe, and it may as well be true for the sake of this argument, if the US has the largest military force, what outside authority has the power to intercede if there is a civil war in the US (or at least some kind of defining wedge which delineates two sides into literally opposing forces)?

    Some may think that force is unnecessary, but this would imply that peoples beliefs and motivations can be changed by simple negotiation. This may bring up international law, Geneva conventions, Warsaw Pact, etc. But the reality is that countries only follow international law when it serves their purpose. Laws are quite literally, not worth the paper they are written on without the ability to enforce the laws. If the force that is capable of enforcing the laws are the only ones breaking the laws, where do we stand? To me, quite literally, there is no such thing as international law.

    [I'll not discuss the IRA issue, as I feel quite strongly about that having lived through a greater part of those 'troubles'].

    Back to the issue in the US: if a percentage of the population is willing fight for a certain right that the government of said country, how should it play out and how will it play out? We are not talking rhetoric, here, although many feel that this is just bluster. When you take away the sole means of resistance - no matter how futile - against any law a government may lay down, you are on the path of a totalitarian government. Totalitarian rule is quite easily disguised as democratic rule, both are instruments of evil.

    As noted, laws are worth nothing without enforcement and that is precisely what the US government is ensuring. The wholesale purchase of firearms and ammunition by domestic agencies alone should raise suspicion, especially when said weapons being purchased are described as 'defensive weapons' in the hands of government officials, yet 'assault weapons' in the hands of the American people. The government believes there will be violence; if an 'assault weapons ban' does come into effect, this will make a significant percentage of the American population criminals. Reading several of the 'ban bills', we are not talking about a slap on the wrist and a few bucks to feed the coffers of a bloated bureaucracy. Serious jail time and fines on par with hard drug dealers and cartel operations. As we know, the 'war on drugs' has proven to be quite effective.

    Armed Americans will not play passive, like the Brits - when attacked by a rapist, don't struggle, as it will only make it worse - who have grown accustomed to their fears being soothed by the government. I was one of you, and am angry and saddened that a so-called civilized culture is so barbaric in its treatment of its own citizens; or rather, subjects.
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    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    what outside authority has the power to intercede if there is a civil war in the US
    I agree. My comments about foreign interventionwere applicable to armed uprising in general rather than the US specifically. In the case of the US I very much doubt that any other nation would have the military power to make much difference. You're not unique in that but it's a pretty small club. Like I said, foreign intervention is dependent on more than just a percieved injustice, it also depends on the trade and security concerns of the potential intervener. I can't think of any nation that would see either it's security or trade interests being served by risking an involvement in the US.

    None the less, Foreign Intervention would almost certainly be required for an armed uprising to succeed in the US. Believe me, assault rifles aren't much use against tanks, jets and missiles. The only exception to the need for Foreign Intervention would be a military coup. If the military decides to change the government it can. The citizenry, armed or otherwise, simply cannot expect to do so alone and no amount of bellicose rhetoric is going to change that. Thinking about it, that's what happened in Egypt: the military joined the protesters. Given that they seem to have gone on to install what's starting to look suspiciously like a dictatorship, it may not be a path you want to pursue.

    Some may think that force is unnecessary, but this would imply that peoples beliefs and motivations can be changed by simple negotiation. This may bring up international law, Geneva conventions, Warsaw Pact, etc. But the reality is that countries only follow international law when it serves their purpose. Laws are quite literally, not worth the paper they are written on without the ability to enforce the laws. If the force that is capable of enforcing the laws are the only ones breaking the laws, where do we stand? To me, quite literally, there is no such thing as international law.
    I agree, law is nothing without enforcement. It interesting you bring up International law because, of course, there is no enforement of international law. In fact there's not really such a thing as international law at all. Rather there's a series of treaties that all parties agree to adhere to. Broadly it works because each party understands they're better off playing along than going it alone but, unsurprisingly, it falls over occasionally when one of the parties decides that forumla no longer adds up for them. It's interesting that it still works most of the time though, that would be a victory for negotiation I think.

    I'll not discuss the IRA issue, as I feel quite strongly about that having lived through a greater part of those 'troubles'
    It's worth mentioning that my name is Declan and my family are from Limerick. If you know much about the troubles you'll probably be able to guess what my family's leaning were from that information alone. We came to England to get away from the troubles but the family still have strong ties back to Ireland and I used to hear plenty of republican sympathy. What's good is that I barely hear any anymore. Things are much much calmer than they were 30 years ago and I think the troubles are pretty much behind us for good. As a general rule anyone still hanging on to any of the old terrorist organisation titles is now viewed as little more than a thug. Even the old leadership structures have come in from the cold and talk to each other rather than shooting at each other.

    When you take away the sole means of resistance - no matter how futile - against any law a government may lay down, you are on the path of a totalitarian government.
    I agree. The last recourse of any citizen when faced with totalitarian government is revolution. Where I think you're wrong is in the belief that taking away assault rifles represent an undermining of that principle. 1. Revolution is an inherantly illegal act therefore whether the weapon you use to engage in it is legal or not is moot and 2. The gun's not going to help you anyway. What's gonig to help you is the sympathy of your or a foreign power's military.

    Totalitarian rule is quite easily disguised as democratic rule, both are instruments of evil.
    I might be being pedantic here or I might not but demodratic rule is not evil. Totalitarian rule disguised as democratic rule is. I'm not sure if that's what you meant or not.

    Armed Americans will not play passive, like the Brits - when attacked by a rapist, don't struggle, as it will only make it worse - who have grown accustomed to their fears being soothed by the government. I was one of you, and am angry and saddened that a so-called civilized culture is so barbaric in its treatment of its own citizens; or rather, subjects.
    Now you're just being silly. Nobody's been barbaric to me in ages.
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  27. #27
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I got thinking back to when the last time a significant group of Americans decided that they were so oppressed that they had to take up arms against the US. I'm not including some strange little fringe groups that live in various hollows out here, as they aren't significant outside of their hollow. I believe that the last instance was the Black Power movement in the 60s, but even in that case the minority involved was highly divided between strategies of militancy and pacifism. However, regardless of their position, they were distinctly a minority, and both wings were regarded as threatening influences that needed to be eradicated by various parts of the majority (a minority part of the majority in many places, but a majority part of the majority in others).

    The overall outcome was positive. Was it because of the militancy or in spite of it?

    We have never had a case in the US where a majority opposed the government. At best, we have had some largely self-reinforcing minorities who felt terribly oppressed. That may or may not ever change, but when a minority group takes up arms against the majority group, the result is generally not so good for either side. All militancy is, in such a case, is more intractable negotiation. Diplomacy by other means, if you will, but really just very poor negotiation.
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  28. #28
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Was it because of the militancy or in spite of it?
    From the little I know I'd be inclined to say a bit of both. Didn't the movement enjoy considerable governement support, though? I'm thinking of the military lining up to allow black kids to attend school in Birmingham, Alabama. To me that movement was more to do with getting the government to enforce it's own existing legislation rather than trying to force them to change it. It's a piece of history I'm woefully under-informed about, though.

    edit> After I typed that I realised I was being clumsy with my words again. It wasn't the movement that enjoyed government supprt but rather the cause.
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    PowerPoster SJWhiteley's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    ... but when a minority group takes up arms against the majority group, the result is generally not so good for either side. ...
    So, when an armed minority group uses those arms to prevent the majority group from removing said arms because they believe said arms are a threat to civil society, will they take up those very same arms to create/preserve a society devoid of those arms?

    Arm humor aside, isn't there a dichotomy in this situation?
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  30. #30
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    isn't there a dichotomy in this situation?
    Definitely, but isn't that inherent in a healthy society? We recognise that, for a large society to function, it needs to be governed. The alternative is anarchy. As soon as you acknowledge that a society must be governed it is necessary to somehow split the constituents of that society into governors and governees and then to impart an amount of power to make and enforce decisions to the governors. We hope that we can come up with a mechanism for doing that which will ensure the governors are motivated to make and enforce decisions that are broadly for the good of the governees rather than the good of themselves and so far the best (but still admitedly imperfect) mechanism we've come up for doing that is democracy. Since one size doesnt fit all it's inevitable, even in a healthy democracy, that some decisions will displease a minority, but that doesn't make the decision wrong and doesn't mean it shouldn't be enforced.

    In a nutshell, a society cannot always serve the interests of every individual so we attempt to serve the interests of the whole. In order to do that we impart power to a minority but charge them with using it in the interests of the whole.
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  31. #31
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Quote Originally Posted by SJWhiteley View Post
    Arm humor aside, isn't there a dichotomy in this situation?
    Yes, and not just in that situation. This is the whole issue with the nullification that started this thread (I think, I'm never quite sure what moonman is specifically refering to). Whenever you have a minority group there is a fairly likely chance that their interests will be trampled by the interests of the majority, and that becomes even more likely if the minority is passive in that discussion. Whether the minority takes up arms over the issue is really just a matter of degree. Similarly, if the majority took up arms to suppress the minority, that is still just a matter of degree...except that they often get to write the history books, so they have a better chance to make their case for posterity.

    Any conflict between any two groups that escalates can only escalate to the greatest level of contention that the more contentious group posesses. Nullification was originally (actually, it may be even older than this, but this was the first I heard of it) brought up regarding the slave issue with the south in the run-up to the Civil War. The majority of the population, by far, was in the north, and they were electing abolitionists. The south brought up the concept of nullification as a means to prevent the acts of the majority from impacting the interests of the minority. They were tacitly acknowledging that they lacked the votes to pass what they wanted, so they stated that they wouldn't be governed by the will of the majority. Both sides then escalated, and pretty quickly we had a war. It was just a case of the majority saying, "you will do thus!", the minority replying, "no we won't!" and both sides being intractable and escalating to conflict.

    There is always this chance with any nullification, but in practice, one side or the other usually backs down.
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  32. #32
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    Does Nullification preclude Equality? I'm not sure but it's probably not worth getting Ansii about it.
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  33. #33
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    That Ansii comment was totally out of character.
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  34. #34
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    We need to bring the derailing of this thread to a full stop... period.
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  35. #35
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: States can't legally nullify federal law.

    I would say that thread derailing all depends upon your training.
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