For most of the last century, talk of secession, nullification and the rest of the extreme states-rights lexicon were relegated to the fringiest parts of the political fringe. But since Barack Obama entered the White House in January 2009, mainstream Republican rhetoric and proposed legislation at the state level have both warmed to the hoary idea that state governments can take their relationship with the federal government on what amounts to an a la carte basis or perhaps abandon it altogether.
Take the concept of Nullification -- the notion that individual states can unilaterally refuse to follow or enforce federal law they don't agree with. For the most part, it's been laughed off since the Civil War. It was brought up again by segregationists during the Civil Rights Era but more out of desperation and political theater than as a serious approach to the constitution.
But the rise of the Tea Party and its amorphous anti-federal government platform has brought these ideas closer to the mainstream than they've been in decades. So, while nullification advocates, Tenthers, secessionists, "constitutional tender" proponents, and the rest don't necessarily share the same theoretical rationales, together they've brought hostility to the federal government back into the realm of respectable political discourse. ...
The concept of states' rights mostly clings to one interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, which says that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Tenthers would say this means a state doesn't have to follow federal laws the state believes exceeds the federal government's constitutional authority.
But this pretty clearly goes against the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, in Article 6:
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.- Jillian Rayfield
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