Pennsylvania should utilize "nullification" to oppose forced health care reform and other "illegal" directives issued by the federal government, according to a speaker at a meeting of the Lehighton 9/12 Project last night.
William Taylor Reil, who has extensively studied the state and U.S. constitutions, told the approximately 75 people at the meeting that nullification is not a new concept. He said it was utilized in 1832 during a confrontation between the U.S. government and the state of South Carolina over the latter's attempt to nullify a federal law.
The meeting last night was held at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Among the guests in attendance was state Rep. Doyle Heffley, who assured the 9/12 Project that state lawmakers, including Gov. Tom Corbett, are continuing to oppose President Obama's health care reform measures.
Nullification is a position taken that a U.S. state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law that a state has deemed unconstitutional. It is his position that Pennsylvania is opposing health care reform mandates.
Reil said it isn't only health care reform that the state should oppose.
"Expansion of unconstitutional behavior is going on everywhere," he said.
As an example, he said the state is presently utilizing biometrics, a very high resolution photo process, for driver licenses. He said the photo, whether put on the license or not, is then stored in a computer database available to many agencies, many of them not just in Pennsylvania.
"They were putting that information on a database accessible anywhere in the world," Reil said.
Heffley said he is an opponent of biometric photos on licenses.
Reil quoted Thomas Jefferson who said, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."
The speaker commented, "The concept of a state nullifying a federal law simply means that a state refuses to comply with the law or permit its enforcement within state boundaries."
Reil gave a lot of history regarding the federal constitution, and made reference numerous times to the Federalist Papers, a series of essays promoting the ratification of the constitution.
He said under the constitution, "the people are sovereign in this country."
He said state nullification was initially encouraged by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in opposition to alienation and sedition acts that the federal government imposed. Reil said the Sedition Act was passed to keep people from speaking against the government.
"People did get arrested and fined," he said.
Probably the most notable example of nullification being utilized by a state came in 1832 when the federal government imposed high import taxes and South Carolina rejected them. An attempt was made by South Carolina for nullification of the taxes to the extent that the state was prepared to go to war against the federal government, said Reil. Congress averted a combat situation by reducing the taxes.
"Nullification is a viable remedy," stressed Reil.
"We haven't been acting like bosses for a long time," he added. "We've been letting those in office be the bosses. But they went too far and they woke the sleeping giant.
"With liberty comes great responsibility," Reil told the Lehighton 9/12 members.
He remarked that John Adams stated the constitution was made "only for a moral and religious people."
"If we don't go back to those principles," he said, "I think our future is very bleak."