Nullification: Winners And (Mostly) Losers

A DEBATE ABOUT NOTHING STILL HAS FALLOUT …  The great South Carolina nullification … or rather non-nullification … debate ended with a whimper this week as S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell ruled against an amendment sponsored by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort). Davis’ amendment – which would have imposed modest…


The great South Carolina nullification … or rather non-nullification … debate ended with a whimper this week as S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell ruled against an amendment sponsored by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort).

Davis’ amendment – which would have imposed modest restrictions on the state’s ability to implement parts of Obamacare – was rejected by McConnell late Wednesday. This ruling was upheld by a 24-18 vote of the full S.C. Senate. Moments later, the Senate voted 33-9 against a House bill “nullifying” Obamacare – although as we’ve pointed out on numerous prior occasions the House legislation nullified absolutely nothing.

Either way, the issue is now dead …

Nullification advocates had high hopes in December 2012 when S.C. Rep. Bill Chumley introduced the original version of the Obamacare nullification bill.

Chumley’s original bill specifically outlined how Obamacare would be nullified by state authorities – including the imprisonment of federal officials who attempted to enforce the law’s provisions within South Carolina’s borders.

It was the real deal, in other words …

The legislation that ultimately passed the S.C. House was a far cry from nullification, though. It merely asserted that the Attorney General of South Carolina “may bring an action in the name of the State” on behalf of a person or business “harmed by implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Anyway … now that this debate is (mercifully) over, it’s time to take a look at a few of the winners and losers.


Americans for Limited Government – Aside from Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation, this grassroots advocacy group – which has impeccable pro-free market credentials – was the first out of the box on this issue. ALG provided substantive research, persuasive analysis and consistent messaging showing the utter pointlessness of this entire exercise. Other libertarian-leaning groups like The Cato Institute and The Federalist Society followed suit, but ALG took a big early risk in coming out strongly on this issue – a risk that paid off.

Tom Davis – Sure, he lost the war over his amendment … but the nullification debate earned Davis the respect of lawmakers and activists on both sides of the fight. His effort to find a middle ground may have failed, but Davis found his way back into the limelight for the first time in a long time – seeking workable solutions out of the pile of crap he inherited from the S.C. House. Davis had been uncharacteristically silent in the months leading up to this scrape – but he’s now back on the radar in a big way.

Nikki Haley – On Medicaid expansion and the effort to block Obamacare, Nikki Haley has been a monumental hypocrite (HERE and HERE). She’ll get a hall pass on this round, though. The failure of the S.C. General Assembly to send a nullification-related bill to her desk means she won’t have to take a position on an issue she’s been dodging for months.


Barack Obama – Given the Palmetto State’s, um, colorful history, the false perception that a nullification bill had been passed would have presented the Obama White House with a golden opportunity to frame Obamacare opponents unflatteringly. Now Obama will have to continue reading stories about how his law is a complete and total clusterfuck that’s jacking insurance costs, among other unfortunate outcomes.

Glenn McConnell – Sure the debate over this legislation was an exercise in irrelevance, but McConnell will be forever remembered by nullification supporters as the guy who put the final stake in the heart of their dream. Assuming he gets his cushy government job at the College of Charleston, he won’t care about their enmity – but if he ever has to face the voters again, his role in this debate has the potential to hurt him.

The John Birch Society – With ALG, Cato, The Federalist Society, FITSNews and the Heritage Foundation all aligned against this ridiculous waste of taxpayer time and legislative energy, it stood to reason that some right wing group was going to get behind it. After all, South Carolinians are dumber than they look – and a group with special interest backing that doesn’t mind throwing intellectually disingenuous red meat will always find a willing audience in the Palmetto State. Unfortunately, the Birchers didn’t exactly distinguish themselves in the fray …

South Carolinians – Residents of the Palmetto State suffer from abysmally low income levels, atrociously deficient academic outcomes and a bloated, corrupt, dysfunctional state government. Rather than taking substantive steps to fix these problems, state lawmakers have wasted huge chunks of time debating what amounted to a non-biding preamble of a piece of utterly meaningless legislation.

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Vanguard16 March 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm

FYI: Obamacare is the work of the Heritage Foundation.

Smirks March 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm

And Newt Gingrich took SC in the primary, being one of the proponents for the individual mandate. And Romney took SC in 2012, being the one who ultimately instated the ACA on the state level.

Yes, yes, SC hypocrisy tops even Republican hypocrisy. Ask most of our state’s citizens how they feel about illegal immigration and then wonder why one of amnesty’s biggest proponents, Graham, keeps getting reelected.

tomstickler March 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm Reply
Smirks March 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

South Carolinians with abysmally low income levels lost when this state rejected the Medicaid expansion.

South Carolinians won since nullification of the ACA would be ultimately rejected and therefore we’d be stuck, yet again, defending worthless legislation that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell.

Rocky March 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Ya just can’t beat city hall – or common sense.

Paul March 20, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Leatherman won. He allowed the right-wingers to waste precious time. He will allow more dumb ass issues to hit the floor so that they waste time. Then, in the end, he will ram the budget down those same right-winger’s throats and make them accept his out of control big spending ways.
Leatherman’s goon of a jug head lawyer stands up there by the podium, like he is going to throttle anyone that gets out of line. These guys are thugs. And ugly.

SCBlues March 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm

It is definitely about LOSERS – you got that right!

GrandTango March 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm

To quote R.P. McMurphy: “I tried G–D— it, at least I did that”…

Something calculating politicians like FITS and Sanford will never get: You can stand for the people and Lose and skirmish….but they will remember what you stood for, in the end…
It’s why Sanford is nothing but a compromised joke, who looks stupid and begging to have his ego fed…and FITS is seen as a political opportunist, dancing for whichever pimp offers the best deal and cushy-boy perks…by the same machine he claims to rage against…

Ted Cruz March 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I tried that, I tried that!! Don’t forget me…

EJB March 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Sanford is a “de-balled, compromised joke” sitting in a cushy DC office, rakin’ in a couple hundred grand a year and taking government funded junkets all over the world. Must not forget the little details.

If You Can't Stand the Heat March 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

“ALG, Cato, The Federalist Society, FITSNews and the Heritage Foundation.”

That’s some interesting company there, FITS. Just curious, you in charge of the spittoons or the chamberpots?

OldFolks(notWill) March 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Tell me – nobody else seems to want to – What is the difference between passing a marihuana (to the purists, “marijuana”) law that is completely against the Federal Controlled Substances Act (“legalizing recreational use” OR “medical marihuana”) and “nullification”. With all due respect to the cockroaches in both Federal and State Guvvinment, the Federal Attorney General, if he had any balls at all, would come down on Colorado and Washington State with a “hammer” that would put down the “nullification” argument forever (as many of us traditionally trained attorneys thought was settled with the failed argument of John C. Calhoun some 180+ years ago).

The current Federal Controlled Substances Act clearly allows the states some authority in regulating these drugs and other substances, AS LONG AS it is compatible with the Federal law. This means that the states can be stricter than the Federal law, but not less strict.

Slartibartfast March 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm

“…his law is a complete and total clusterfuck…” Aye, that it is, laddie.. that it is.

Amanda P. March 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Imprisoning federal bureaucrats stomping on our rights and shredding the Constitution sounds like a fantastic idea to me…

How much longer will Americans put up with this crap, and what are our states going to do about the regime in DC trying to make them into administrative units in the giant scam to steal our freedom and money?

The Tax Man Cometh March 21, 2014 at 8:04 am

Its over sweetheart,pack it in.Next,we are coming for YOU!

Judity March 20, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Tom Davis voted for Jean Toal for no apparent reason he could articulately explain. He supported a proven corrupt, Democrat. He has not regained any measure of respectability. He is sinking like a rock. Go home Tom and leave us alone.

Just another Joe March 21, 2014 at 8:33 am

All that Tom Davis did was to waste tax dollars.

SparkleCity March 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm

It was a bunch of time consuming Bull Shit from the start

Total waste of time,talent and resources fit only to kiss the asses of Tea Party types

Mickey Askins March 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm

The John Birch Society and the GOP have the same agenda, the old JBS is the new GOP.


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