Posted on: 2012-10-19 23:38:20.000A modern objection raised against scholars impertinent enough to mention nullification today is that it violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution. That clause, found in Article VI, reads: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” A state that nullifies a federal law, the objection runs, is therefore at odds with the supremacy clause and is ipso facto engaged in illegitimate behavior. But a nullifying state does not deny the principle that the Constitution and laws made in pursuance thereof are the supreme law of the land. On the contrary, it defends that principle, as it disputes whether the law in question is itself pursuant to the Constitution in the first place. (Moreover, it’s probably safe to assume that Jefferson and his supporters, who knew a little something about the Constitution, were familiar with the supremacy clause.) To give the federal government the exclusive power to determine such matters is a recipe for federal domination. That was Thomas Jefferson’s point. If the federal government is allowed a monopoly on constitutional interpretation—that is, if the states have no real power to contest and resist the federal government’s interpretation—then in effect it gets to determine the extent of its own powers. Human nature being what it is, the federal government will tend to expand its own powers vis-à-vis those of the states as it hands down rulings in favor of itself. How could that be in any way unexpected?
Woods Jr., Thomas E. (2007-07-10). 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask (pp. 27-28). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.