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Nullification Nonsense

The Great Façade of American Law and Politics

Brian McCall POSTED: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

( The latest fad to take the Tea Party crowd by storm is “Nullification.”  Thomas E. Woods, Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, has recently published a book on the subject, Nullification, How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.  As a professor of law with a particular interest in Catholic Legal Theory, I purchased the book to see what suggestions Mr. Woods has to offer for the current crisis in government. 

Mr. Woods and the other Tea Party luminaries are correct in identifying a deep crisis in civil society which has been progressing in tandem with the crisis in the Church these past decades.  Government, whose teleological end is to promote the common good, has done nothing of the sort for far too long.  The laws passed by our governmental entities have promoted and protected some of the worst evils in history: the slaughter of millions of unborn, the subsidization of contraception, divorce, sex education in the public schools that corrupts our youth, and so-called same-sex “marriage.” 

This tyranny of evil must be resisted by all Catholics just as vigorously as the tyranny of Modernism in the Church.  Our government must be recalled to its divinely instituted purpose of promoting, rather than destroying, the common good.

Here was an author who had contributed to one of the greatest books diagnosing the crisis in the Church, The Great Façade, so I thought perhaps his book on “nullification” would just as skillfully diagnose the problems in civil society.

The Constitutional Convention and Vatican II –

The Search for the Original Spirit of the Convention

If you thought along the same lines, you will be sorely disappointed.  Rather than diagnosing the true crisis in government as a departure from Catholic teaching on law and the State, the book is a call to embrace the same flawed Enlightenment philosophy that led to the current crisis.  Ironically, for a Catholic who could write so eloquently about the pathetic attempts of “conservative” Catholics to defend the ambiguities of the Second Vatican Council which have been injected like viruses into the Body of Christ, Woods defends the Constitutional Convention and the document it produced with the same zeal.

Woods argues that the “real intention” of the drafters of the Constitution and the state conventions which ratified it was to create a limited federal government and promote a federated alliance of sovereign states.  The essence of Nullification lies in what Woods calls the “axiomatic point that a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all.”[1]  The phrase “no law at all” is, as we shall see shortly, an inaccurate borrowing from the principle of Catholic teaching enunciated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, and even by Martin Luther King in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail—but not, very conspicuously, by Woods.  I mean the principle that a law contrary to eternal, divine or natural law is “no law at all.”

According to Woods, however, if the federal government passes a purported law that exceeds the authority granted in the Constitution, such law is void and should be nullified by the sovereign states.  The two recurring, and thus most prominent, examples in contemporary political life that Woods uses in the book are the federal criminalization of the use (including medical use) of marijuana and the federal mandate to buy healthcare insurance.  To maintain his argument requires Woods to prove that these acts are not provided for in the Constitution.

But the problem is that the Constitution—like Digitatis Humanae, Sancrosanctum Concilium and other documents of Vatican II—contains time bombs in the form of ambiguous, equivocal, open-ended clauses clearly inserted by a liberal cabal in the process of drafting and approval by a committee in a setting where no unified intention or interpretation existed at the time.  These time bombs were worked into the give and take of group negotiation so as to be exploded later in order to justify the Hobbesian/Lockean state the Federalists desired.

The General Welfare Clause, the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause are some of the most prominent examples of constitutional time bombs Woods addresses in his book.  Just like the dogged defenders of the ambiguities of Vatican II, however, Woods defends these time bombs by arguing that they must be interpreted according to the “original intent” and the “spirit” of the Constitution. 

He writes: “For it is they whose interpretation of the Constitution – and in particular, the precise nature of what they believed they were getting into – is of ultimate importance.”[2]  Finding this evasive original interpretation of the Constitution is an exercise as futile as searching for the original intention of the Vatican II Fathers.  Woods quotes extensively from Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson as well as the polemical Federalist Papers numerous passages claiming these clauses were meant to have a narrow and limited meaning. All of these arguments sound just like those of the defenses of the Vatican II novelties.  “Digitatis Humane stated that it left intact Traditional Catholic teaching on social obligations of states to Christ the King.”  Likewise, Woods quotes President Madison as saying:

“It exceeds the possibility of belief” that supporters of limited government “should have silently permitted the introduction of words or phrases in a sense rendering fruitless the restrictions & definitions elaborated by them.”[3]

Does it really exceed the possibility of belief?  That is like saying it is inconceivable that Vatican II would quietly insert words in Digitatis Humanae that would undermine Catholic Social Teaching on Christ the King when stating in the opening lines that they were not changing such teaching.

Defending a restricted reading of the Commerce Clause, for example, by appealing to “the understanding that informed the decisions of the ratifying conventions”[4] is like appealing to the understanding of the Council Fathers who voted for Digitatis Humanae.  What the past forty years have shown in the Church is that appeals to an elusive understanding of a vast group of Fathers is no real bulwark against what these men actually did by their vote – promulgate a document which had a life of its own once issued.

The Constitution is no different.  It cannot be saved by appeals to an original understanding, which in any event we have two centuries of litigation to show can never be proven conclusively.  Given any desired interpretation of a clause in the Constitution, any half decent researcher can find some off-hand comment of some “Founding Father” or other to prove it accords with the “original intent.”  To claim that the “state ratifying conventions are full of assurances about the innocuous nature of the clause”[5] is analogous to asserting that the records of the Council are full of assurances of the innocuous nature of the ambiguous clauses which have caused so many problems in the Church.

The Federalist Framers acted no differently from the liberal Council Fathers and periti at Vatican II, who vehemently denied they were introducing anything radical or novel into Catholic life and teaching at the time of the Council, only to explode all the time bombs they left in the documents for the next four decades to justify doing just that.  Woods admits as much with respect to Alexander Hamilton, even if he seems blind to the same conduct by other Federalist “fathers” at the “council” in Philadelphia:

For one thing, prior to New York’s ratification of the Constitution, Hamilton noted in Federalist #17 and #34 that the [Commerce] clause did not mean that an area like agriculture would come under the purview of the federal government.  But having given the people that assurance, Hamilton then declared, several years after the Constitution was ratified, did mean agriculture could be directed by the federal government.[6]

Although Woods views Hamilton as but the exception that supposedly proves the rule that the other Founding Fathers were consistent in their “original intention,” history shows otherwise.  Madison and Jefferson are used as examples throughout the book of those upright Founders who consistently maintained the “true” spirit of the Convention and fought against unauthorized elastic interpretations of the ambiguous clauses.  James Madison is quoted extensively in the book as an example of a Founding Father defending the compact theory of the Constitution and the right of states to disregard federal law, and the limited scope of clauses such as the General Welfare and Commerce Clauses.[7]  Madison is presented as a most compelling historical proof that these ideas embody the spirit of the Constitutional Convention because he was, after all, a Federalist and thus more in favor of a centralized government than the Republicans.

Yet, as with Alexander Hamilton, Madison’s earlier protestations of delimited federal powers and states’ rights quoted by Woods are contradicted not only by his actual actions as President but even his own words.  Not quoted by Woods, for example, are statements by Madison such as the following, in which he denounced as one of many “strange doctrines and misconceptions” the thinking of those who deny

the nature of the Constitutional compact, as precluding a right in any one of the parties to renounce it at will, by giving to all an equal right to judge of its obligations; and, as the obligations are mutual, a right to enforce correlative with a right to dissolve them [which would] make manifest the impossibility as well as injustice, of executing the laws of the Union, particularly the laws of commerce, if even a single State be exempt from their operation[8]

Decades after the Constitutional Convention, Madison denounced the very idea of “nullification” of federal law by individual states as

this preposterous & anarchical pretension [of which] there is not a shadow of countenance in the Constitn. [sic] and well that there is not; for it is certain that with such a deadly poison in it, no Constn. [sic] could be sure of lasting a year; there having scarcely been a year, since ours was formed, without a discontent in some one or other of the States which might have availed itself of the nullifying prerogative.[9]

As for Jefferson, an article does not provide sufficient space to demonstrate that his actions as President repudiated all his high sounding ideas about liberty.  He expanded the imperial power of the Presidency even more than his Federalist predecessors. Even Woods includes in his book the letter of a citizen denouncing Jefferson as a fraud and calling him “one of the greatest tyrants in history.”[10]

The Viruses of Enlightenment Liberalism

The ultimate problem with the remedy of Nullification is that it depends on the very document that is the root cause of our government going haywire.  The Constitution is a product of the errors of Enlightenment Liberalism just as Dignitatis Humanae is a product of Neo-Modernism.   Pointing to a few traditional sounding phrases or holdover concepts from the Catholic past—the borrowed capital that has been keeping our nation afloat these past two hundred years—does not inoculate the body politic against these Enlightenment viruses.

Unfortunately, in arguing the case for nullification Woods demonstrates that some of these viruses have infected his own political philosophy.  The most deadly viruses are the following:

·         That sovereignty comes from the people and is delegated to the government by them.

·         The limitation of an appeal against federal authority to some other form of positive law rather than to the higher law.

·         An ultimate acceptance of the Majoritarian Fallacy.

The “Sovereignty of the People”

The Constitution and Woods’s defense of it are rooted in a false notion of sovereignty, which is the authority to govern the res publica or civil polity.  According to Woods, “In the American System the sovereigns are the peoples of the various states.”[11]  Wrong!  The only sovereign in any political system is Christ the King.

In the Encyclical Letter Quas Primas, Pius XI confirms the constant teaching of the Church that all authority comes from God.  Sovereignty over the world has been delegated not by Man but by God the Father to His Son:

Moreover, Christ Himself speaks of His own kingly authority; . . . after His resurrection, when giving to His Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing all nations, He took the opportunity to call Himself king, [Matt. xxv, 31-40] confirming the title publicly, [John xviii, 37] and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given Him in Heaven and on earth. [Matt. xxviii, 18] These words can only be taken to indicate the greatness of his power, the infinite extent of His kingdom. What wonder, then, that He Whom St. John calls the "prince of the kings of the earth" [Apoc. 1, 5] appears in the Apostle's vision of the future as He Who "hath on His garment and on His thigh written 'King of kings and Lord of lords!'." [Apoc. xix, 16] It is Christ Whom the Father "hath appointed heir of all things"; [Heb. 1, 2.][12]

Pius XI had already explained that the world had gone haywire precisely because Men had inverted the order of delegation from the Father to the Son and the Son to constituted political authorities, to one where it was delegated from the people upwards.  Pius XI stated in his first encyclical:

[W]ith authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation.[13]

Catholic teaching has always allowed for a multiplicity of means for designating which individuals will exercise, as viceroy for Christ the King, His sovereignty in a particular country or territory.  The designation of the one to hold this office can be, and has been, by hereditary succession, election by a group of hereditary electors or by the entire people as a whole (as is currently the practice in America today).  The most appropriate means of designating he who holds the office of exercising Christ’s sovereignty are a subject for legitimate debate among Catholics – and the Church has always allowed such debate to occur unencumbered.  What is not up for debate is the proposition that he who is designated receives the authority to govern, sovereignty, from those who selected him.  The only sovereign, he who has a right to rule, is Christ.  Therefore, He is the only one with the power to confer a portion of His unlimited sovereignty to particular political leaders.  Leo XIII explained brilliantly in his encyclical Immortale Dei, the reasons for Christ’s unique claim to universal sovereignty.  Christ’s claim is two-fold.  First, by His divine nature, as Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe, he is sovereign by right.  If the only thing brining the universe into being and maintaining from slipping into nothingness, Christ as God has the sole claim to be sovereign of that which he keeps in existence.  Secondly, Christ in his human nature has merited to be sovereign of the whole world by the act of His redemption.  Christ’s passion and death saved and redeemed the entire world.  As the Savior of the World, whom without the world could only promise death, Christ is entitled to His position as Sovereign of the world.  For this reason St. Paul declares: “That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).  Presidents or kings or prime ministers may exercise governing powers after their designation by some or all of the people, but one truth remains – these powers come not from those designating them but from Christ the King.  To hold otherwise, to claim a sovereignty coming from the people is tantamount to refusing to bow one’s knee to Christ.

Woods appears throughout his book to be steeped in the Enlightenment rejection of this Catholic understanding of sovereignty.  He speaks repeatedly of sovereignty coming not from Christ but from the states or the people.  Woods spends the entire fourth chapter of his book arguing vigorously that the U.S. government received its authority “from an agreement among states and the various peoples thereof” rather than “from a single sovereign people.”[14]   Regardless of whether his historical argument about which of these constitutional theories was held by early Americans is correct, it is a distinction without a difference.  The government of the United States derives its authority neither from the states and peoples thereof nor from a single sovereign people, but rather from Christ the King, the one, true and only sovereign. Woods’ entire constitutional law theory, from which he derives the nullification remedy, is rooted in the false contractual or compact theory of government taught by Grotius, Hobbes, Locke and their fellow travelers.

Catholic teaching, which perfected Aristotelian natural philosophy, has always held that government is not a product of some humanly created contract in the false political creation story invented in the eighteenth century.  Political authority is part of the natural social order created by God in the Garden of Eden, not by Man in the jungle of the state of nature.  Man is by nature a social and political animal, as even Aristotle could see.  Political authority is not some haggled-over concession by “naturally free” men as a necessary evil.  It is part of God’s plan. 

As Pius XI noted almost a hundred years ago, the theory of the contractarian “sovereignty of the people” is why the world is “tottering to its fall.”  Thus, nullification, whose justification lies in this false notion of political sovereignty, cannot be the cure to our woes since its use involves acceptance of an un-Catholic political philosophy.

The Need for Higher Law

Woods’s final plea for nullification consists in the question: “What alternative exists?”  He plays on the fact that Catholics and non-Catholics alike are in increasing numbers realizing that our government is spiraling out of control.  He advises, as the only alternative, a return to the original principles that set us on this spiral course: popular sovereignty and contractual government. But there is another alternative, Mr. Woods: the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

According to the Church, the check on tyrannical and oppressive government that Woods wants to find in state nullification is not some Newtonian gravitational system of contracting agents competing with the federal government for power.  It is the entire legal order created by God—the Eternal, Natural and Divine laws, which as St. Thomas demonstrates in the Summa Theologica, are real laws binding on all men, including those who govern civil society.[15]  All human law is subject to and restrained by these higher laws. Again, an article allows insufficient space to explain and define these species of higher law, but any interested reader can investigate them, without buying a book, by reading my two articles available at[16]  One explains the nature of the Eternal and Natural Law and the other examines the Divine Law.  

Suffice it to say that this higher law was the bulwark against tyranny, oppression and injustice until the Protestant revolutionaries and their Enlightenment offspring discredited and dismantled it and argued for the substitution of a contractual government of competing interests and “separated powers” that Woods embraces as the answer to our self-inflicted woes.  John Dickenson summarizes the role of this higher law in his introduction to the classic twelfth century Catholic political work, The Policraticus: 

It has become a historical commonplace that mediaeval thought was dominated by the conception of a body of law existing independently of the authority of any government and to which all positive law must conform and to which government no less than individuals owed obedience.  Rulers were thought of as bound by a higher law . . . which accordingly made it possible to apply to their acts another criterion of legality or illegality.  In the words of the Policraticus, “between a tyrant and the true prince there is this single or chief difference: that the latter obeys the law and rules the people by its dictates.  A tyrant is one who oppresses the people by rulership based upon force while he who rules in accordance with the laws is a prince.”  “There are certain precepts of the law which have a perpetual necessity having the force of law among all nations. . . . And not only do I withdraw from the hands of rulers the power of dispensing with the law, but in my opinion those laws which carry a perpetual injunction are not subject at all to their pleasure.”[17]

Perhaps this “historical commonplace” was omitted from Mr. Woods’s graduate studies in history?  It was the “conception of a higher law” in Christendom which “tended to retard the organization of effective government,” not some populist appeal to a contractual document like the Constitution under the false notion of a sovereignty derived from the people.[18]

It is the appeal to the higher law in which real nullification of evil human laws consists, not in the nonsense of “nullification” by contracting states or peoples.  True nullification of invalid laws is not a product of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions.  It is the product, rather, of Catholic teaching on true liberty.  St. Thomas Aquinas provides a concise explanation of Catholic nullification—which, incidentally, is referenced nowhere in Woods’s book:

[L]aws may be unjust in two ways: first, by being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things mentioned above – either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory – or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence rather than laws; because, as Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5), "a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all." Wherefore such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, according to Matthew 5:40-41: "If a man . . . take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two."

Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because, as stated in Acts 5:29, "we ought to obey God rather than man."[19]

This is the true statement of the grounds for nullification of human law, misquoted by Woods, as mentioned above. It is not that a law contrary to the Constitution is no law at all, but rather that a law contrary to the higher law—which establishes the good and ends of Man—is no law at all.  The test of legality or illegality (nullification) is not the varying interpretations of a piece of paper haggled over in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago, but the higher laws of God: Eternal, Divine and Natural.  Nullification occurs when a political ruler exceeds the sovereign power committed to him by God, not the interpretation of the power committed to him by Men either in convention in Philadelphia or in the most recent election.

We do not have time to explore this teaching in detail here, but at least note that St. Thomas’ teaching on Nullification is laced with Catholic prudence.  Even when a ruler exceeds the power committed to him by God, nullification is not always justified.  It involves a complex moral decision depending on what aspect of higher law has been violated in light of the common good.  Yet, when human law violates a fundamental precept of Divine Law—like the Fifth Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill, by abortion laws—it must be deemed nullified and must in nowise be observed.  This is true Nullification in the Catholic sense of the concept.

The Majoritarian Fallacy

The omission of Catholic grounds for Nullification and the substitution of a compact theory of government ultimately leads Woods to fall into the Majoritarian Fallacy. This consists in relying on public opinion, or majority opinion, to determine what is right or legal.  Once the objective standard of the higher law is abrogated in favor of a negotiated contractual relationship embodied in a documentary work of human hands, subjectivity is ultimately the result.

Notwithstanding Woods’s protestations that nullification is not simply the states refusing to enforce “laws the states do not like,”[20] that is exactly what nullification turns into without the objective standard of the higher law.  The Constitution is not an objective standard.  It is an ambiguous statement of a political compromise achieved through ambiguous generalities and concepts that work in tension with one another—again just as we see in certain of the Vatican II documents.  Since the Constitutional standard of the meaning of the contracting parties is itself open ended and subjective, all that is left as a standard for nullification is majority opinion.

And that, indeed, is precisely where Woods’s argument ends up.  He writes: “Are we surprised when a government on this scale, so remote from popular control and oversight, routinely acts in such open defiance of public opinion?”[21] The history of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that Woods expertly summarizes in his book demonstrates the very point.  A number of states did not support the nullification of the Alien and Sedition Acts by Virginia and Kentucky because they did not think those acts violated the Constitution. This very example of “nullification” demonstrates that the only standard for determining constitutionality for nullification purposes is public opinion in each state as to the interpretation of a humanly crafted document.  Nullification as proposed by Woods is a slave to majority opinion.

This fatal defect in Woods’s case is brought home by his own recent answer to a question on a radio show discussing his book.  A caller inquired whether nullification should be used to put an end to the unjust and tyrannical decision in Roe v. Wade without reference to popular opinion:

Do you believe that state officials, governors for instance, should interpose themselves between the U.S. Supreme Court and the unborn? And the second part is: Do you think it should be necessary for there to be some sort of groundswell in order for a governor to do that? In other words, should he stick his finger up in the wind and make sure he has popular support before he defends the unborn, or should he go ahead and place himself between an unjust, tyrannical law and the unborn regardless of his popular support?

Here is Woods’s reply:

Uh, here we have to distinguish between, uh, you know, between, what’s morally right and what’s likely to work. Because I mean, I could, I could try all kinds of things that would just wind me up in jail and accomplish nothing.  So, the point is that I wanna think about what is likely to work. Now, of course, morally I believe a governor or anyone who is in the government, any human being, oughta stand up in between the federal government and Roe v. Wade. I, I absolutely believe that because it’s morally wrong, and we have to obey God rather than men.  So, there’s no question there’s a moral obligation to do this.  The reason I would be concerned about using nullification for this purpose is not that I doubt the moral rectitude of that position—not at all. But it would be this: that nullification has really only started to be talked about really in the past year, and we’ve got a big uphill battle just to get this concept accepted as it is. So if we were to come out swinging with probably the most controversial issue in America, I’m afraid it would take nullification down with it and we would be no better off than we were before. I would rather ease into this by starting with areas in which there is a general consensus that the federal government has overreached, so that if we get to a point where nullification becomes an acceptable part of the constitutional landscape, then we can stick our necks out a little more and move into areas where there’s gonna be more controversy. But as I say, because nullification itself is a source of controversy, I think we need to be more modest about what we can expect from it, and then perhaps try more conventional approaches with more intractable issues like abortion.

Now, it is hard to think of human law today more opposed to the Divine Law than Roe v. Wade and all the statutory laws flowing from it.  Should these be nullified as “no law at all” and declared the “acts of violence” they really are?  Oh no, Woods says—too controversial, not part of the general consensus.  Sure, I am personally morally opposed to abortion, but let’s use nullification for causes we can all agree on—like legalizing marijuana and preventing the government from issuing REAL IDs!  Meanwhile, let the slaughter of the unborn continue, because, after all, that “issue” is “intractable.”

Do not misinterpret my argument. I am absolutely no supporter of Barack Obama or George Bush or Nancy Pelosi or any of the other rulers of our country, who, drunk on the intoxicating idea that sovereignty comes from people, have been overreaching their authority delegated from God and pushing our nation ever further on the path of destruction.  A whole host of statutes, regulations and court decisions range, in their errors, from flagrant violations of the Divine and Natural Law to merely idiotic, poorly thought out, wasteful and imprudent.  In fact, I defend practically nothing done by our federal government since… well, let’s just say “the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.”  Yet, the solution is not to go along nullifying whatever law with respect to which we can muster a general consensus in favor of nullification. The answer is the same as it has been since the tyranny of Liberalism first reared its ugly head.  The answer is perennial Catholic legal and political teaching.

Our faith in the illusory “original intent” behind a piece of paper written by deistic and anti-Catholic liberals in 1789 needs to give way to our submission to the true Sovereign: Christ the King. Until the political authorities of our country renounce the idea that their power originates in the people and acknowledge the sovereignty of God, including His nullification of their unjust laws, the American regime will continue to go as, Woods puts it, “haywire.”  Resorting to a compact theory borrowed from the toolkit of Enlightenment liberalism is like treating a heart attack victim with Band Aids.

So let’s dispense with this nullification nonsense—the latest liberal cure for liberal ills. Let us instead recognize for what it is the ungodly legal and political order that has weighed for too long upon the Western world. Let us call upon our nation to take up instead the easy yoke of Christ the King.  “What is the alternative to nullification?” Woods might ask.  Here is the answer from Pope Pius XI—and it is the only answer that can save us now:

Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." [Annum Sacrum, May 25, 1899]. Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In Him is the salvation of the individual, in Him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." [Acts iv, 12]. He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. . . .  If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ.[22]

[1] Nullification p. 3.

[2] Nullification p. 104.

[3] Nullification p. 24.

[4] Nullification p. 26.

[5] Nullification p. 29.

[6] Nullification p. 25.

[7] See e.g. p. 22.

[8] James Madison to Mathew Carey, July 27, 1831, available through the Library of Congress at

[9] James Madison to Nicholas P. Trist, December, 1831, available through the Library of Congress at

[10] Nullification p. 61-62.

[11] Nullificatoin p. 36.

[12] Pius XI, Quas Primas No. 11.

[13] Pius XI, Ubi Arcano.

[14] Nullification p. 88.

[15] Summa Theologica I-II Q. 90 et. seq.

[16] The first one, The Architecture of Law: Building Law on a Solid Foundation the Eternal and Natural Law has recently been published in Vera Lex, the Journal of the International Natural Law Society.  The second one, Consulting the Architect when Problems Arise: The Divine Law has been accepted for publication by the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy.    

[17] The Statesman’s Book of John of Salisbury, xxviii (Alfred Knopf 1937).

[18] Id. at 30.

[19] Summa Theologica I-II, Q. 96 Art. 4 (emphasis added).

[20] Nullification p. 16.

[21] Nullification p. 18.

[22] Quas Primas No. 18.

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