What impact does the idea of nullification have on the debate of state rights?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The idea of nullification had a huge impact on states’ rights.  Nullification means that a state can reject (or nullify) a law if it doesn’t like the law. It gives the states a huge amount of power. It basically means that a state action can override an action by the federal government.  While this may sound like a good idea, there are problems with the concept.  First, it is unconstitutional. The Constitution is very clear that federal law overrides state law.  Thus, when a state nullifies a law, it is doing something illegal. This means the federal government will have to take action.  No president can allow a state to reject a federal law.  To do so could lead to impeachment of the president.  Therefore, while the concept of nullification gives the states a huge amount of power, it is simply something that can’t happen under the Constitution.

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