Nullification coming to the courtroom?

judgeNullification is rearing its head as a very hot topic in this era of the Tea Party and widespread disgust with governmental overreach.  Nullification is the belief that states, communities and their residents have the right to nullify, or overrule, laws handed down by the government which they believe are unconstitutional.

Critics of nullification point to its use by states that eventually joined the Confederate States of America, as well as by entities opposed to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.   A counter-argument points to the fact that civil rights protesters regularly operated under the banner of nullification by doing things like: refusing to sit at the back of the bus, sitting at whites-only lunch counters, and attempting to enroll at whites-only public schools.  

There’s a movement afoot in New Hampshire that has the nation watching.  That state’s House of Representatives has introduced a bill allowing courtroom jurors to be instructed that they can vote ‘not guilty’ if they don’t like a law and find it unconstitutional.  Critics of the New Hampshire legislation suggest it is anarchy rearing its ugly head.  Proponents see it as a vehicle for average citizens to return our country and its system of governance to something a lot closer to what The Founding Fathers envisioned.

In an era when party bosses and deep-pocketed lobbyists appear to call all the shots in Congress and in our state legislatures, many grassroots activists are viewing nullification as the best bet for trashing bad legislation like ObamaCare and “immigration reform” / amnesty.

New Hampshire has long been a political maverick.  Its state motto is “Live Free or Die.”  It will be interesting to see where this legislation goes — whether it dies a quick death, stays isolated to The Granite State, or acts as an accelerant to spread the concept of nullification across the country like a wildfire.

4 thoughts on “Nullification coming to the courtroom?

  1. No doubt the author thinks that 9 well connected lawyers who are appointed to lifetime careers by the closest thing to a dictator we have (the office of the presidency) should have the final say in a nation that is to be about “We the People” and “Land of the Free”.

    Oh the logic and reason….must have been a Harvard Graduate

  2. The concept of jury nullification is hardly new. It has been going on as long as there have been juries deciding cases. For example, in Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical England, the sole punishment for adultery was hanging. Most common people thought that was highly excessive, so of the many adultery cases brought during the Cromwell period, only one resulted in a guilty verdict. Even when people were caught in the act, they were found not guilty because juries did not agree with the punishment.

    What is new in this law, is allowing lawyers to explicitly argue in favor of jury nullification in their arguments to the jury.

  3. We need to Move from jury nullification to “legislative” nullification ASAP …here in North Carolina. If we are to be “first in freedom”

  4. Nullification is applicable only to courts of common law, which have not existed since 1938 when common law was replaced
    by civil law, being admiralty procedure in disguise. Under the present system the jury sits merely in an advisory capacity.
    Whereas under common law, the jury sat as the judge of the facts and the law, and the judge was the referee.

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