Tag Archives: Tom Woods

A Case Study on Nullification: Marijuana Laws


I’ve written a few of posts mentioning nullification: Tom Woods on NPR, Tom Woods’ article on anti-nullifiers, and challenging the notion that the Supreme Court ought to have a monopoly on Constitutional interpretation.

Tom Woods wrote the book on this subject and has FAQ.

But the first thing I would like to ask in today’s post is: “How much does it matter that nullification has a Constitutional or historical basis?” The more I think about it, I find that my answer is: “It matters only to the extent that people will accept its use as a method for decentralizing power.” If it were to be shown, beyond a doubt, that nullification is, in fact, unconstitutional, that wouldn’t matter one bit to me in terms of its legitimacy. I took no oath to uphold the Constitution; I was forced under it at birth.

It seems ridiculous that the same people who accept no limits on federal power are often the same ones who declare nullification unconstitutional. But most of what is considered “constitutional law” has nothing to do with the Constitution, but with legal precedents. For example, judicial review is not in the Constitution. It was a precedent set by Marbury v. Madison (1803).  In the same way, why can’t states nullifying federal laws set a precedent? According to the anti-nullifiers’ own logic, nullification would have to be acceptable.

Photo of Mark ThorntonAnd we have several precedents of states doing just that. A recent example is of Washington and Colorado decriminalizing marijuana and Mark Thornton writes a fantastic article about it.

One particularly interesting point he makes is that, in doing this, Washington and Colorado are effectively nullifying a UN Law as well. He says,

In effect, the voters of Colorado and Washington have placed themselves and their states on equal legal footing with both national and international governments. This is important, because, if thanks to nullification, governments have to obtain acceptance, or at least acquiescence from subsidiary governments, rather than just imposing their dictates on them, they are more likely to act in a less threatening and harmful manner.

Read the rest of this entry


Logic Fail on NPR


This video is from a couple of years ago, but I think the subject is still quite relevant today. It is a recording of NPR’s “On Point with Tom Ashbrook” where Neil Siegel (a Duke Law Professor) and Tom Woods (professor of U.S. history) are guests, discussing the subject of nullification in light of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

At first, I was struck by how poor the arguments were by callers. Then, I noticed how bad the arguments by Professor Siegel were. And finally, I began wondering if they were going to let Tom Woods speak. It was quite frustrating to listen to, and what better place to vent my frustration than the Internet?

@01:22 Neil Siegel expresses that he thinks there are legitimate discussions about limits to federal power but doesn’t like the fact that such discussions often involve talking about nullification or secession. This seems strange to me for a couple of reasons: 1) he says the individual mandate is constitutional because of Congress’ taxing power, and agrees with the decision of the Raich case (where SCOTUS ruled that Congress, under the Interstate Commerce clause, has the power to regulate marijuana that has neither been sold nor crossed state lines) which to me implies he believes that there are no limits to federal power; 2) he doesn’t address how limits to federal power will be enforced. He repeatedly says that nullification is not mentioned in the Constitution and is therefore not legitimate, yet does not acknowledge the fact that neither is judicial review by the US Supreme Court. Read the rest of this entry

The Anti-Nullifiers



This article by my boy Tom Woods seems to be a good primer on the merits of nullification and answering some common objections. For a more complete list of objections and his responses, see here.

As far as legal arguments go, my question is, “Who cares?” (Please see my article on No Time 4 Bull regarding this.) Since I already take the view that the “social compact” called the U.S. Constitution doesn’t apply to me since I never signed it, I hold that its enumerated powers that are coercive, such as the power to tax, are illegitimate. See Lysander Spooner’s No Treason for more on this. However, we should use the means we have available to us, and if the state governments can be used to nullify federal laws, that is useful in and of itself. I also think it’s useful in the sense that the greater utilization of nullification will increase its acceptance and legitimacy. Hopefully, the devolution of power from the federal government to the states will put a check on Leviathan, as well as further the march of the very radical goal of secession. And once secession of the states from the Union is widely accepted, how long until secession of individuals from the State is accepted and the “gang of robbers” loses legitimacy entirely?

Yeah, I’ll admit that this process of dissolving the State sounds a little farfetched. But if so, then I would like to ask: if the free society is to be achieved, however unlikely, what is the most likely method that it will be brought about?

David Seaman – Civil Liberties Hipster


I’ve been following David Seaman’s YouTube channel for a while now, and he seems to keep me pretty up to date with electronic privacy issues, the NDAA, the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order, and related issues without being too overwhelming in output. He is also running for Congress, but I haven’t looked too much into what he believes about most other things (though I have some idea when he says he’d rather see money being spent on the TSA go to education or NASA. Is there not a way to improve the education levels of Americans or space exploration without expropriating funds through the threat of force?). In this particular video he talks about a story in The New York Times regarding an FBI agent’s laptop that was hacked and found to have many data about individual iPhone users. The majority of Seaman’s video is a complaint about the comments by reddit users who make light of the fact that the government is spying on people. Good for him. I do, however, question parts of his call to action, particularly the portion in which he says that one should write his or her congressman to threaten to support his opponent if he does nothing to stop these abuses. The problem is that hardly anyone in Congress cares about individual liberties or privacy, and the same applies to their potential opponents. Even worse, their opponent might want to destroy your privacy even more. As well, with politicians you are buying a packaged deal, and an improvement in privacy might be bundled with someone who wants to tax you even more. (I also question whether sending money to the ACLU is the best thing to do to advance civil liberties). Other parts of his call to action seem much better, like contacting local media outlets and addeing them to cover these stories. Not sure how effective it will be (I plan to try this myself) but I’m so glad it is something outside of the political process. I grow tired of the inefficacy of democracy, where people think voting is the only way to change things. This reminds me of another video I saw today by Tom Woods. He created a new page on his website: tomwoods.com/afterpaul. It is about what practical actions individuals can take to advance liberty in a post-Ron Paul political environment. Personally, I’m not sure what the best way to advance the Non-Aggression Principle is, but I looking forward to learning it with you.