Nullification and Secession in Modern Constitutional Thought
Edited by Sanford Levinson
The Missouri legislature passes a bill to flout federal gun-control laws it deems unconstitutional. Texas refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, citing the state's sovereignty. The Tenth Amendment Center promotes the “Federal Health Care Nullification Act.” In these and many other similar instances, the spirit of nullification is seeing a resurgence in an ever-more politically fragmented and decentralized America. What this means—in legal, cultural, and historical terms—is the question explored in Nullification and Secession in Modern Constitutional Thought. Bringing together a number of distinguished scholars, the book offers a variety of informed perspectives on what editor Sanford Levinson terms “neo-nullification,” a category that extends from formal declarations on the invalidity of federal law to what might be called “uncooperative federalism.”
Mark Tushnet, Mark Graber, James Read, Jared Goldstein, Vicki Jackson, and Alison La Croix are among the contributors who consider a strain of federalism stretching from the framing of the Constitution to the state of Texas’'s most recent threat to secede from the United States. The authors look at the theory and practice of nullification and secession here and abroad, discussing how contemporary advocates use the text and history of the Constitution to make their cases, and how very different texts and histories influence such movements outside of the United States—in Scotland, for instance, or Catalonia, or Quebec, or even England vis-à-vis the European Union. Together these essays provide a nuanced account of the practical and philosophical implications of a concept that has marked America's troubled times, from the build-up to the Civil War to the struggle over civil rights to battles over the Second Amendment and Obamacare.
“While reading this volume, it is impossible not to take nullification and secession seriously. Serious constitutionalists will have in this volume a welcome addition to their libraries.”
—Publius: The Journal of Federalism
“This is a fascinating set of essays on the supposedly obsolete doctrine of nullification, and its political cousin, secession. Filled with historical and comparative insights, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in American federalism and federal systems generally.”
—Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School
“Sanford Levinson has assembled a probing set of contributions on a fascinating topic that is of immediate interest and has historical resonance. An outstanding group of scholars examines principled resistance to a constitutional order from many different angles, including useful comparative perspectives.”
—Stephen Griffin, author of Broken Trust: Dysfunctional Government and Constitutional Reform
“Secession and nullification are ghosts that haunt us still. In this stimulating set of essays, constitutional experts examine just how far the states may go to resist federal law. ”
—Gerard Magliocca, author of American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth AmendmentSee fewer reviews...