NULLIFICATION TALK FROM CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS…. Right-wing lawmakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) make interesting comments all the time. Yesterday, though, was extra special.
Some of the nuttiness was fairly routine. Bachmann told Sean Hannity, for example, that she will never “give the government control over my body.” For the staunch opponent of abortion rights, it seemed like an odd thing to say. Likewise, DeMint explained that he’s against health care reform that would give government control of the “most personal” aspect of Americans’ lives. For the staunch supporter of anti-gay constitutional amendments, this, too, seemed like an odd thing to say.
But the two wacky Republicans actually teamed up last night to participate in a tele-town-hall event (a meeting over the phone) organized by Americans for Prosperity, a far-right lobbying group opposed to health care reform.
During the call, DeMint and Bachmann didn’t use the word “nullification,” but they seemed to offer some support for the idea.
A caller asked DeMint what the states could do in order to stop unconstitutional action by the federal government on health care. DeMint replied, “I think the key to pushing back against the federal government is some governors and state legislators who champion individual freedom.”
DeMint said he would love to see states go to court to invoke the Tenth Amendment: “If we had some states come together and say the only way to save this country is to push back.” He also added: “I think you’ll see some states say no more, we’re not going down with the federal government.”
Bachmann added that governors should take collective action. “We’d have to see some fairly revolutionary action taken by the these states, and it’s question of whether these governors would do that,” she said.
Given her track record, when Bachmann starts talking about “revolutionary action,” it’s unclear if she means “revolutionary” in the ground-breaking sense or the overthrow-the-U.S.-government sense.
Also note, this truly insane talk is already percolating among right-wing GOP officials at the state level, most notably in Florida and Texas.
If you’re new to this argument, Josh Marshall explained today, “Nullification, the constitutional theory that states can block enforcement of federal laws they find objectionable, was crackpot from the start and hasn’t been seriously entertained anywhere in the county since the Civil War (with the exception of feigned attempts in the South during the Civil Right Era).”
It’s why it’s all the more unnerving to hear two sitting members of Congress talking like this in public — in the 21st century.
Nevertheless, it’s something to keep an eye on, since a) the fight with conservatives can continue long after reform passes (if it passes); and b) these efforts are a reminder of just how far off the ideological cliff some contingents of the GOP have gone.