Idaho's Flirtation With Nullification Creates an Incubator for Sedition

Updated 2/6: I changed this substantially from when I first posted it, including the title.

Idaho Republicans proudly campaigned on the slogan that "regressive is the new progressive." The oxymoronic catch-phrase was a method of engaging the teabagging wingnuts, who have steadily infiltrated into the power structure of the Idaho Republican Party, riddling its platform with anachronistic mandates, like a return to the gold standard or repealing the seventeenth amendment allowing for the direct election of senators. In the center of such efforts one can often find political opportunist, Wayne Hoffman, and his camouflobbying Idaho Freedom Foundation which continues to refuse to identify the source of its financial support.

Wayne and company are no strangers to mainstreaming extreme political ideology into Republican politics. Last year they entertained assistance from hate groups in drafting legislation to mirror Arizona's ethnic cleansing immigration reform. This year, Wayne and the IFF seek to hitch a ride on the Idaho Health Freedom Act by amending it to assert that Idaho has the power to nullify federal law, specifically to void any compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The proposed legislation states that:

The Idaho Legislature hereby declares that the state of Idaho, on behalf of its citizens, is the final arbiter of whether an act of Congress is unconstitutional and therefore declares that the federal laws known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Public Law 111-148, and the "Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010," Public Law 111-152, are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate its meaning and intent, and further, are null, void and of no effect regarding any Idaho citizen residing within the borders of the state of Idaho.

The history of nullification is a study into the very basis of our federal system of government. The author of the constitution, James Madison, concluded that allowing nullification would “speedily put an end to the Union itself” because it would allow the states to simply ignore any law they want. The concept of individual state nullification of federal law has been rejected by a long line of Supreme Court cases going back for more than a century as a clear violation of the supremacy clause. The Civil War was fought over southern state's assertion of this power. Indeed the south continues to refer to the Civil War as the "War Between the States", refusing still to acknowledge federal power.

The Idaho Attorney General's office issued a terse opinion concluding that the power is not available in any state and, additionally, specifically violates Idaho's constitution, adopted after this historical context, and which states unequivocally:

State inseparable part of Union.-The State of Idaho is an inseparable part of the American Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.

The AG opinion goes on to state:

The framers therefore expressly recognized Idaho's status as a part of the United States and the supremacy of the United States Constitution. Consistent with this recognition, every legislator is required to affirm "that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Idaho.[] Legislators and other state officials, in other words, pledge to carry out their duties in a fashion that directly conflicts with the second form of the nullification theory.

The alpha and omega of the nullification theory, in sum, rest upon rejecting the principle that the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land.[] The theory runs contrary to the very purpose of the federal constitution and Idaho's express constitutional acknowledgment in Article I, § 3 of that supremacy.

As the opinion also notes the most recent effort to rejuvenate the nullification doctrine emanated from southern states seeking to void federal desegregation efforts. The primary modern day proponent of this doctrine nationally is Thomas E. Woods, Jr., the co-founder of a neo-confederate hate group. The resurfacing of this doctrine in Idaho is at the behest of Wayne Hoffman and the IFF, which "brought Woods to Boise State University last fall, have distributed copies of Woods’ book, and worked with lawmakers on the particulars of the nullification plan." Hoffman and the IFF are seeking to utilize legal and monetary resources of the state of Idaho in another effort to revise history. In the process these camouflobbyists are also irresponsibly recreating an incubator for sedition.

In the face of historical record and overwhelming legal authority, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee printed the bill anyway, in a party line vote. The legislation has 24 sponsors. Idaho's most active tea baggers have sent out a call to members to pack the hearing room utilizing insurrectionist rhetoric which has become alarmingly familiar.

"This is the line in the sand," says a notice from Tea Party Boise. "On one side is federal tyranny — on the other side is freedom. What do you choose? If it is freedom — then be at the Capital (sic) on Feb. 7th."

The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Feb. 7 in the House State Affairs Committee on the Garden Level of the Capitol.

Reaching the 1,000 mark would equal last week's estimate of the number of people who showed for a budget hearing regarding proposed cuts to the Medicaid program providing health care to the poor and disabled.

Underscoring these efforts is the glaring fact that the Idaho legislature has taken no independent effort to address the consequences of the health care crisis. Instead of promoting substantive solutions to the health cost epidemic, the legislature is preparing to, yet again, score meaningless political points, none of which will help Idaho's uninsured or the people whose Medicaid they've threatened. Instead they're playing constitutional semantics encouraging an ignorant rabble to entertain sedition as salvation and again embarrassing Idaho on the national stage. Idaho is better than this.

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Shall we join the rabble, then?


You should

Paint target on back.

Walk into hearing room.

Tell all the gun enthusiasts/militia member/teabagger what idiots they are.

Repeat address and all contact information.

I don't expect too many folks are gonna overcome their Superbowl hangover manana. But teabaggers are, are, well, unorthodox.

Looking into the mirror last Wednesday, I actually composed a three minute speech. And not even Sisyphus could identify a more futile endeavor than venturing before a hostile Fox induced crowd and try and reason with them.

The irony of it all

Once the Health Care Law goes fully into effect, folks are going to love it, especially here.

No more trips to Mexico for affordable health care. The state's burden paying for indigent patients will reduce drastically.
...and we will never see another big tin can next to a cash register with a picture of a dying kid on it, whose folks have been wiped out of everything they have to keep the kid alive.

They'll Love It / Hate It

Hey, banjomike...Republicans will use it but will pretend they don't, and still fight against it when they have the opportunity.

We have the highest (of any state, percentage-wise) increase of people on Food Stamps and Medicaid in this state. Does anyone believe that only Democrats are getting public assistance? Hells to the no!

With such a large majority of Republicans, you know they're dipping at the trough the same as anyone else, then publicly proclaiming the evils of socialism and safety nets.

It's like Ayn Rand getting Social Security and Medicare (both of which she was entitled to receive) after years of insisting they were the programs of fools and losers. She took hers when she could get it but never publicly admitted that she may have misspoke, or may have been wrong, about their value.

Hoffman is an opportunist looking for national cachet. (He really reminds me of a young Blake Hall). The AG's announcement was rather interesting, but will be ignored as it doesn't fit their battle plans. (He must not be planning to hang around here much longer, to be so out of step with the leadership.)

I missed the counter-rally last night. I hope it was glorious. I suspect it was anemic.

...searching for the truth...

Every session--every single one--Wingnuts derail & commandeer

This yearly legislative detour (last 10 years, right on schedule) to the looney-tune twilight zone of 'Idaho wingnut central' has not escaped the notice of some very, very heavy hitters. One of my associates has seen a privately funded, out-of-state business study on this, relating to Idaho's culture of paranoia and xenophobia, and its implications for future (and their continued) investment in the Gem State. It does not look good, especially in light of the still surging rise in foreclosures, and the very latest black mark: smart people are leaving, or refusing altogether to move to Idaho (even unemployed smart people who need jobs).

Sooner or later, it had to catch up with the witless.


It would be so terribly awesome to see such a report.