James Madison on Nullification

Madison on NullificationI recently got into a debate with  an “historian” on secession, Lincoln, nullification, and constitutional originalism. He not have a clue what he was talking about (constitutionally), and he shamelessly misrepresents the viewpoints of others to bolster his own claims.

I routinely asked where in the constitution is secession a remedy for lawlessness. Not only did he ignore my question, he claimed the Federalist Papers and Joseph Story’s “Commentaries…” are not a sufficient guide to understanding judicial originalism. The common line used by those to bash Story is “he was born in 1808, what does he know, he wasn’t there,” or he was Marshall’s “right-hand man.” Both arguments are fallacious and incredibly foolish responses. By this logic, Thomas Jefferson could in no way comprehend the original intent of the Constitution because he was in Paris at the time of it’s drafting. Moreover, no person currently living could understand it’s meaning (except for the “historian” of course). This is the mask of post-modernism with regard to interpreting historical texts.

The historian did acknowledge the ratification debates in the pursuit of uncovering the original intent, yet was still unable to answer my question of where in the ratification debates is secession incorporated into the powers granted to the states as a viable option to combat an oppressive congress?

More on Story: I routinely use Bork, and Story (both born after ratification) as a source when defending Constitutional originalism along with the Federalist papers in academia, the same place this historian earned his degree. Even within academia these sources are considered to be legitimate.

The Lincoln haters (Tenth Amendment Center/John Birch Society) and their brand of constitutional revisionism is just as dangerous as the revisionism of the leftist.

The other admin of this page, and many of my friends that take opposite positions as I do, know I do not get vitriolic or personal while in debate. This could only mean one thing for my historian adversary: he doesn’t like being wrong.

For those interested, he appealed to his book on Madison. This is Madison himself on nullification and secession:



– Will Ricciardella



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Filed under Conservatism, Jurisprudence, Political Philosophy

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