Earlier this week, the Alabama senate passed a bill that purports to nullify any action the federal government takes regarding firearms. The bill provides that “[a]ll federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations regarding firearms are a violation of the Second Amendment,” and that such acts “shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.” Last month, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a similar bill into law in his state.
As ThinkProgress has previously explained, these bills are unconstitutional and have virtually no chance of being upheld by the courts. The Constitution provides that duly enacted federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” Indeed, if states had the unilateral authority to decide which federal laws are or are not constitutional, as nullification’s proponents claim, it would undermine America’s very ability to exist as a single nation. As James Madison warned, nullification would “speedily put an end to the Union itself.”